The Rise of Millennials

Sep 11, 2015 Industry Updates

Written by Irini Cavalliotis

To sell to any audience, you must first understand it. “Millennials” may be a buzzword, but for anyone in the marketing game, it’s worth taking notice of.

It’s the largest generation by population size globally – but that’s not what gives it so much power. Roughly defined as 18-34-year-olds, Millennials have different purchasing habits than the Gen Yers and Baby Boomers that went before them, and understanding their mindset is crucial to thrive in today’s market.

At this generation’s core is one key characteristic: they are fluent in technology.
As the babies of the ‘80s and ‘90s, Millennials have grown up with the internet, meaning they will turn to their smartphones before the local rag, a Refidex or the Yellow Pages. This digitally-dependent generation, now entrenched in the workforce, has reshaped the consumer market into one that is more engaged than ever before.

Here, brands exist everywhere: not just on television, but in networks of family and friends, locally and around the world.

Millennials are also a highly social generation, with a unique sense of self. Although a gross generalisation, many have a positive outlook on life that is conscious of justice, the environment and general wellbeing. These are, after all, people brought up amidst a backdrop of recycling, global warming, World Vision and Heart Tick logos.

Not surprisingly, the purchasing habits of Millennials are vastly different to that of the older generations. They are still buying, they are just buying differently. They don’t respond to traditional life benchmarks, such as getting married, buying a home or starting a family. Rather, they choose overseas travel instead of an expensive wedding, or to live under their parents’ roof to save money for unique shareable experiences, such as exclusive eating events or music festivals.

There is a lot at stake for marketers who don’t understand Millennials and who don’t adapt products to fit the realities of today’s market. Many feel connecting with Millennials is extremely difficult. After all, they are known for their lack of brand loyalty. Nonetheless, getting this generation on board is fairly straightforward.

Here are some of the key strategies for marketing to Millennials:

Drive the right values:
Millennials are driven by happiness, passion, diversity, sharing and discovery. They are hyperaware of, and have high expectations for, corporate social responsibility to make the world a better place – for themselves and for greater society. In particular, Millennials believe in going green and supporting endeavours that are good for the environment. Give them something to believe in and act on because they’ll quickly switch from businesses that do nothing in this arena to ones that publically share the same values. And, once they are gone, it’s hard to win back their trust.

Give them opportunities to create something on their own:
For Millennials, one size does not fit all. This is a group that grew up in an expanding world of options for just about everything from smartphones to cuisine. As a result, they don’t see one path to travel; they see limitless possibilities to forge their own identity and make their life their own.
The look and feel of a customised product is important to this generation, who has grown up in a society far more diverse and willing to embrace difference than previous generations.

Make sure your technology works:
This generation has grown up with digital devices that bundle communication, entertainment, shopping, mapping and education. Naturally then, Millennials embrace and align themselves with technology and adapt to new devices, apps or social media quickly and with less scepticism than older generations. Put simply, Millennials expect technology to work and, if your website or app doesn’t, they’ll go elsewhere.

Give them the space and the resources to find your brand themselves:
Less likely to believe an ‘expert’, Millennials prefer to take advice from friends and family who have tried a product and can vouch for it. When this inner circle doesn’t have an opinion, they will look for peer reviews online, meaning your brand must be easily found via social media, user-review websites (such as WOMO and Yelp) and on industry apps (such as The Age Good Food Guide and Urbanspoon).

Have a social media presence:
Put your name out there online, but keep in mind not to make it overly commercial. Millennials can see right through thinly veiled marketing ploys. Rather, be genuine and let your prospective market understand what you’re about and what you stand for.

Be creative:
Have you ever seen a boring advertisement go viral? Only the most creative marketing strategies gain momentum online. With Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, messages can be quickly shared and distributed. If you create something meaningful, funny or newsworthy, Millennials will distribute it for you.

Make them feel informed and involved:
Millennials want to be part of the conversation, not simply spoken to. Where many businesses are failing today is they are not listening to the conversations Millennails are having about their products or their company. It’s also important to communicate on a personal level. Create a two-way dialogue with your audience and give them the opportunity to speak directly to your brand. Whether you let them rate your products, publish comments, or share experiences with friends, providing a forum to be a part of the conversation is essential.

Each generation has its own impact on society. This is the Millennials’ turn to wield social, cultural and economic effects on the market. Acknowledge these changing lifestyle values and you will transform this generation into a powerful advocate for your brand.

Irini will be speaking at the Talking Food Stage on Monday 21 September at 1pm.

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