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Millennials have grown up. With the oldest of their cohort reaching the age of 40, they are now the generation that is going to define the global market for years to come. Brands and their marketers have no choice but to adjust.
In general, though numbers vary, millennials are born between 1981 to 1996. They are also known as Generation Y, and the time gap for their birthdates is sometimes set as wide as 1980 to 2000.
Millennials today are the largest workforce in the world. And even though Generation Z (born in 2000-2020) has recently overcome its predecessor in numbers, it is Gen-Yers who will, along with Gen-Xers and Boomers, still remain the primary consumers in the 2020s.
So, how can we win the hearts (and money) of millennial audiences, which account for about a quarter of the world’s population? Let’s think about the effective marketing strategies that can engage them in the second decade of the 21st century.
1. Use Social Media Wisely
First of all, let’s take a look a few years into the past. One of the first major blogging platforms, LiveJournal, was launched in 1999. LinkedIn and MySpace followed in 2003, and after Facebook emerged in 2004, the world was never the same again.
Many people in the “MTV Generation”, yet another moniker for this cohort, are still students. More often than not, that means they spend a good deal of time socializing on the internet, working through the pressures of academic life, and hitting significant life milestones along the way. That’s a lot to handle all at once, and it’s allowed for services like EssayPro and other services that rely on social media to flourish.
Looking particularly at social media, it’s not surprising that if your brand isn’t on Facebook, you’re missing out on a major portion of the millennial audience. Here are some ideas on how to capitalize on the opportunities that Facebook and other social media channels offer:
- Target the right audience. If you can, hire a professional SMM manager or contracter, and they’ll be able to help you develop an audience for your brand or product through social media campaigns.
- Create content that’s appropriate for your audience and keep adapting it based on how people react. Keep it true to your brand, but don’t be afraid to lean into popular tastes either.
- Don’t forget to meter your content — particularly ad content. Recent studies show that users are growing tired with ads that continually bombard them everywhere they go on social media.
2. Work With Comments and Peer Reviews
“Millennials are twice as likely to reference peer reviews on products before buying them as Gen-Xers”, – says Lindsay Drucker Mann, a vice president in Global Investment Research at Goldman Sachs. So, you really need to be on alert about anything that’s said on the internet about your product or brand.
It’s good to have a particular person to work with these reviews on every platform where your brand or product is represented – especially, online shops. Millennials in 2019 made 60% of their purchases online, a survey found. That number is going to grow – and be sure that every online customer will read the reviews on your product! So, you better take care of them.
Also, if you ever even think of deleting the negative reviews or comments under your posts on social media, think twice. In today’s world of total transparency, after you delete one negative comment, you’ll most likely get two more of them.
The right way to handle such backlash is as follows.
- Apologize for any inconvenience
- Try to find out what the real problem is
- Solve the problem
- If there’s no real problem, just say something nice and humorous that doesn’t imply any further discussion. In this instance, it’s best to leave as much of a positive impression as you can for others that stumble on the review.
3. Convince, Not Compel
Content marketing is the key to success when working with the Millennial generation. Thanks to the aforementioned ad wear. Another, more important, factor is that this generation isn’t easily persuaded to purchase or act without good reason. For many, the perception is that money and opportunities are tight, so unnecessary spending is a no go.
So what’s the best way to convince a hard sell crowd that your product is necessary? Show it in action or relate it to other necessities. Here are a few ways that you can demonstrate the value of a product or service to a wider audience:
- Provide useful content on social media channels. Post video tutorials, before/after photos, articles with valuable tips and advice concerning your niche.
- Use comparisons, but carefully. Avoid saying anything bad about your competitors. It’s unethical and millennials hate it when brands are being unethical. Plus, it brings other products and services into the conversation, which can distract from your own work.
- Paint your product in a good light, highlight it’s objective value. Otherwise, don’t go too sales heavy. The common mindset is that a product worth buying will speak for itself, so even if your marketing is carefully crafted, aim for that “speaks for itself” quality.
4. Be Gentle With Them
“6 out of 10 Millennials claim to be going through a “quarter-life” crisis”, revealed a study carried out by First Direct bank and psychologist Dr. Oliver Robinson. In addition to having a rather negative image, most millennials are still going through a very vulnerable stage of life.
The same study found that a large portion of the Gen Y population in Britain suffered from financial difficulties. Other problems and these financial difficulties were linked to struggles finding the right job or building strong relationships in the professional environment. All common issues across the board for many millennials, which often manifests in job hopping or living without certain things like insurance, personal transport, home ownership or other common and expensive hallmarks of previous generations.
Expressing compassion and using an approach that takes into consideration their personal problems, you’re more likely to identify with and invest personally in your marketing or business. There are two main ways to show that personal interest for your millennial audience:
- Create ads, blogs, and social media posts that shed a positive light on the generation you’re marketing to. Highlight the inherent positive qualities of millennials, but don’t shy away from vulnerabilities and advice when it makes sense or when your product might help.
- Work through comments and reviews on social media. Essentially, be where your audience is.
5. Let Them Express Themselves
“This generation masters self-expression”, – states the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation report from 2012. – “There is also a trend toward personal branding”, it says. On the surface, it appears to be a way of self-promotion, but a deeper look reveals, that it’s also about young people struggling to identify their passions and find their way in life.
This is why using various challenges and competitions for promotion on social media is a great idea. Encourage your audience to do whatever they feel strongly about.
- Write poetry;
- Play musical instruments;
- Take photos;
- Write reviews, etc.
Just don’t forget to ask all the participants to add your hashtag and mention your brand and product in the posts they make. If you’re not too pushy or deceptive, most people are willing to add the mentions or links when taking action. People don’t mind supporting brands and products that they enjoy, but nobody likes being pandered to.
6. Keep Gender Equality In Mind
Research shows that most fans and followers of brand pages on Instagram and Facebook are women. In the prime marketing demographic of 25 to 34 years, women make up the biggest group of people who interact with brand pages.
Millennials in large part expect gender equality and more broadly accepting views, with even major brands that hold contrary views receiving a great deal of backlash. That means marketing strategies that are or appear to use any kind of discriminatory or politically negative elements will likely backfire or fail altogether. There is some research to suggest that Gen Y hasn’t totally abandoned traditional gender roles, but overwhelmingly, even for those that identify with more traditional positions, the consensus leans towards acceptance and non-traditional vies.
If you’re looking to market towards a particular gender, for example women given their noticeable presence in the prime demographic, be sure to utilize these tips when crafting an effective marketing plan:
- Emphasize that your audience is in control. They’re making the choice to buy or invest, which highlights the significance of personal choice and agency.
- Emphasize the fact that they’re buying the product to make themselves happy, rather than appealing to some more traditional or stereotypical. For example, in the past products were sold under the pretense of making a romantic partner or happy, rather than the buyer themselves.
- Do what you can to mitigate any kind of pink tax or “traditionally gendered” products. This generation is moving towards messaging and ideas that don’t pressure people into particular roles, and moving against that progressive view will paint your business in a negative light.
7. Emphasize Experience, Not Ownership
“Millennials have been reluctant to buy items such as cars, music, and luxury goods. Instead, they’re turning to a new set of services that provide access to products without the burdens of ownership, giving rise to what’s being called a sharing economy”, – reveals the Goldman Sachs infographic on Millennials from 2015.
That means building a marketing campaign around the prestige of owning some big ticket item isn’t likely to see success in a millennial market. Instead, focus on the experience aspect of whatever you have to offer. This is a two-fold consideration, however.
The first aspect is to consider the actual, practical benefits of owning or using your services and products. Returning to our earlier point about convince, not compel, remember that you absolutely must demonstrate objective value or your product won’t generate tons of interest. A nice new car with all the features is great, but if a person can look and say “why pay this much extra for features I don’t need” then you’re wasting money in the wrong marketing areas. Utility and function sell, so showcase that.
Second, tailor the appeal of your product towards experience. A good example here is focusing on some aspect of your product that allows for a better experience and justifies the cost. Let’s take a look at an older style of advertising versus a more millennial-focused style of ad. Looking at car commercials and how they appeal to the millennial viewer, commercials that talk about how many awards a car has or how many architects labored over the design no longer appeal. They’re not memorable because they’re about a thing not an experience.
Millennials will, however, remember the car commercial that follows a kid going from childhood to adulthood while riding in or driving the same brand of car throughout the years. The emotional connection to a lifelong experience demonstrates value. It’s a car that you can drive for life, the features support you now and in the future, and so on. This applies to all marketing. It doesn’t have to constantly be a sentimental emotion fest, but you should always give people a way to picture themselves with the product and show them how that product will improve their life in a practical, emotional, or objective sense.
We only covered a few of the more effective strategies that you can use to engage millennial audiences. Some work better than others, depending on your niche, but the key to success is understanding what your audience actually wants and figuring out how to tailor your product to those wants and needs. Testing is everything, so try these strategies out and choose the best ones!
In any case, don’t forget that Gen Y consists of people obsessed with fact-checking and doing their due diligence before making a purchase. Don’t try to fool them, be honest about how you deprict your product through ads, posts, and product information, or you could lose a lot of faith with your desired audience. Loyalty in the millennial generation is won through consistent trust and guaranteed value. In a time where there are tons of options, people working with multiple budgets, and access to information in seconds you have to make your business really worth the attention!