The word “Millennial” has become a buzzword within marketing circles. More and more I see marketers weighing in on the topic of influencing this generation online, often labelling themselves “experts” in all things millennial. But can someone other than a millennial really understand a generation that they don't belong to?
In this blog we seek to break down the mystery surrounding Millennials, highlighting key information that can help your brand influence this cohort better with online media to create action.
Defining a Generation
The generation is defined by some as lazy, arrogant and snarky, but as the most ethically diverse and largest cohort to have existed thus far, they are highly influential for brands. With marketers defining them as technologically savvy, modern, risk taking, hip and fun.
With a varying definition on birth year range the most settled upon is 1980 - 2000. Because of this 20 year age gap there is most certainly a split in the cohort. This split is commonly referred to as 16-24 Younger Millennials (YM) and 25-34 Older Millennials (OM).
Research highlights that “37% of younger Millennials feel they are missing something if they are not on Facebook or Twitter once a day” (BCG, 2016). However, I would go on to note that many studies currently neglect new social networking sites such as Instagram and Snapchat which increase in popularity daily with YM.
Millennials are often seen to be notoriously hard to influence with brand communications. With a recent study by the BCG finding that Millennials turn to at least 5 people within their peer group before making a buying decision, compared to 3 in the boomer generation. Millennials are also more distrusting of testimonials from “experts” on brand websites, but instead turn to influencers, family and friends to determine the merits of a product or service. More importantly, influencing Millennials is much more than simply setting up a campaign on the newest “hyped social network”, pushing generic content and hoping for us to bite. To conquer a Millennial’s attention and create action, your brand will need to understand our motivations and interests to deliver messaging that is actually attention grabbing.
What interests Millennials?
So what interests Millennials? Millennials as a cohort share linked values on what they view as important or of interest. They also display varying levels of egocentrism. These values of interest are centred around luxury, adventure, excitement, status, craftsmanship and travel to name but a few. To appeal to Millennial hearts it’s important to understand their mind and what truly creates action, through leveraging their values brands can increase purchase intent and awareness.
For brands, attracting Millennials is paramount, not only for sales but for creating digital word of mouth which leads to brand loyalty and organic promotion.
Millennials, more so than other generations, form personal and emotional connections with brands, often picking brands that reflect their own values and traits. BCG claim that about 40% of all millennials often pay a premium for brands that they can use to portray themselves. This means millennials use brands as a extension of their own values and status. This could be seen to reflect social label theory as highlighted in my previous blog, meaning Millennials can be influenced with social stimulus that reflects their interests and behaviours.
The 3 steps to inspiring Millennials with marketing messages
1. Create relationships
To create Millennial loyalty your brand will need to engage with Millennials individually, and in small groups through direct two way communications. This allows your brand to build a community putting the consumer (Millennials) in a position to shape brand strategy. Millennials desire opportunities to interact with brands, and to be aware that the brand is taking on board what they are saying, anywhere and anytime about their concerns and experiences.
2. Encourage Reviews
Millennials are influenced by peers when purchasing, therefore encouraging them to review your brand will not only foster relationships, but creates influence within their generational group. Millennials are also more willing than previous generations to share their opinions with friends on Social Networking Sites (SNS) about the merits of a product/service. Further to this 50% of Millennials seek out knowledge and opinions of brands compared with 35% of boomers on SNS, often viewing SNS as knowledge seeking platforms when prospecting to buy. Millennials also believe that they influence the purchase decisions of around four family members and friends, highlighting that Millennials have become powerful advocates within cross-generational influences to purchase.
3. Keep communications relevant
To aggregate Millennial consumers, it is paramount to make sure marketing messages, brand communications and tone resonate. While Millennials respond to the same visual stimulus as previous generations, it’s important to remember their behaviour is somewhat different. Instead companies should strive to convey messages with authenticity that reflect millennial attitudes, beliefs, preferences and personalities. For brands, this means that by leveraging millennial traits you can create purchase intent. By altering your brand messaging to conform to their traits and personalities your business will be able to increase interest. Proof of this is that 59% of millennials have been shown to buy from brands that reflect their values, according to the BCG this is about 50% of YM and 38% of OM. More importantly messaging should be personalised to each and every Millennial individually. This can be achieved by leveraging online data to build up unique behavioural characteristics or profiles.
In review, Millennials are a complicated and a misunderstood generation within today’s marketing eco system. The key take away points to influence Millennials are to remember that they are influenced by brands that reflect their personality traits, values, and behaviours.