Millennial Marketing: You’re Doing It Wrong

Millennial this, millennial that. It seems like “millennial” as a buzzword isn’t going away any time soon. As the largest living generation, occupying more than a quarter of the U.S. population with nearly 80 million individuals, Millennials have slowly but surely taken their place as the demographic to market to. They’re smart, tech savvy, socially conscious—and they’re everywhere.

Like it or not, the fact is Gen Y is the future of business and the economy, if only because of their numbers. So, what are brands doing to reach them? Do they even want to be reached?

Yes. And no. It’s complicated.

While millennials tend to show more brand loyalty than the previous generations, they’re also less likely to respond to traditional advertising. According to a 2017 HubSpot survey, 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. They’re much more likely to trust a friend’s recommendation, or to experiment with a new product or brand. Perhaps, as a culture, young Americans have grown tired of disruptive, hard-sell marketing techniques and yearn for authenticity. Perhaps they expect more from companies than “good enough” products and services—more intrinsic properties like value, quality, and convenience. Maybe they just can’t afford it.

Regarding that last point, it seems unlikely that they simply can’t afford it. Though the average salary for American millennials is still very low—around $33,000 per year—as a whole Gen Y commands the most spending power of any living generation: a whopping $200 billion in annual buying power in the US alone. That’s a whole lot of dough left on the table. For millennials, brands are more than products—it’s all about the experience they provide. In the immortal words of Bruce Hornsby, that’s just the way it is. And it doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.

So, what can companies do to grab their share of the millennial pie? They can start by appealing to what millennials are looking for: authenticity. It’s not about buzzwords or shameless pandering. It’s not about the latest trends or the flavor of the week. Building genuine, meaningful engagement with millennials is all about the relationship. What ultimately matters—and what will keep customers coming back for more—is the relationship the consumer has with the brand and their evaluation of the brand experience.

Brands that focus on influencing the brand experience at every touchpoint will also focus on the moments after the purchase. They’re communicating beyond the transaction in a way that encourages a relationship—a human relationship—with their customers. Companies that understand the importance of the company-customer relationship will reap the benefits almost immediately: customer retention, advocacy, and greater awareness.

Companies have to understand that, at least with millennials, some of the most consequential engagement happens outside of the traditional sales funnel. To succeed with Gen Y—and tap into a $200 billion buying demographic—the focus of every company’s products and services (and, of course, their marketing) should be on making their customers’ lives better. The brands that succeed with millennials aren’t focused solely on the one-time purchase transaction. They’re adding value and purpose to their customers’ lives by crafting their messaging, story, and touchpoints around a lifestyle rather than a purchase.

For better or worse, millennials are becoming the dominant buying force in the US, and they’ll be here a while. The good news? They’re everywhere, which means companies have virtually limitless opportunities to reach them where and when they want to be reached.

The Brand to Human® philosophy is exactly how today’s biggest brands are winning over the younger generations. IDealogic® Brand Lab offers a comprehensive collection of branding, marketing, and advertising solutions scientifically engineered to reach consumers on a lifestyle level by positioning brands as a vital asset to their customers’ lives. Contact us today to learn more.

Market Statistics:

  • 60% of US millennials stick to brands they like
  • 5 out of 6 millennials connect with companies on social media networks
  • 62% report that they’re more likely to become a loyal customer of brands that engage them online

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