5 Ways to Market to Millennials

They were born between 1980 and 2000. There are 80 million-plus of them in the United States. They’re the most educated generation in history, yet many of them are under-employed and have trouble just paying for housing.

One in three of them look to blogs when they’re considering purchases, and they eschew traditional media sources like television, books, and magazines. Only 1 in 100 admits to trusting a brand more based on a compelling advertisement; rather, friends, parents, and online experts are their influencers.

And of course, they love their tech devices and social media—especially Facebook—and they want brands to engage with them there and on other sites.

These are some of the findings of Elite Daily’s Millennial Consumer Trends 2015 Study. “Our findings confirmed that millennials are highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive and–despite popular belief–do indeed develop strong brand loyalty when presented with quality products and actively engaged by brands,” according to David Arabov, CEO and co-founder of Elite Daily.

The New World

If you’re older than the generally-accepted millennial age demographic and didn’t reach adulthood with a smartphone in one hand and a tablet in the other, imagine how different your 20s and 30s would have felt, the connections and closeness and accessibility that weren’t possible before the internet and mobile technology.

If you’re over about 40, you had your personal and business relationships, and you had your information universe, which consisted of the only media sources that were available then: TV and radio and newspapers and magazines. You made phone calls to communicate and sent letters through the mail.

Generation Y grew up connected to the whole world. Forget six degrees of separation. They zoomed straight to one degree as soon as they got their hands on the hardware and applications and networks that would allow it. So when you’re marketing to them:

Be human. Authentic. Genuine. Transparent. Pick your adjective. Millennials know more about the people in their lives and the cultural icons they revere than previous generations. They’re incredibly media-savvy, and can spot a manipulative or disingenuous pitch as soon as it hits their screens. Like everyone else, they want to know how your product or service will benefit them or solve a problem. Bet they’re used to knowing behind-the-scenes stuff, too.

So as your corporate culture and comfort level allow, give them peeks at the backstage activity at your company. Snapchat and Instagram are terrific venues for this kind of thing, along with dozens of other niche sites that only the hip know about. Don’t worry about them. Stick with the mainstream venues.

Make everything mobile-friendly. That’s good practice anyway these days, but essential for Gen Y.

Involve millennials in your product development and upgrade processes. If your staff is heavily populated by the over-40 crowd, bring in millennials as product testers. Put them on panels where they can share feedback as you prepare to introduce something new or upgrade an existing offering. If you’re in a large enough metropolitan area, you may be able to invite them to come to your office. Otherwise, you can do all of this in virtual, online settings.

Ask them to be as honest and transparent as they expect you to be, and make this participation worth their time. People who have been volunteering for in-purpose focus groups for decades often get cash. You may come up with something more creative and more valuable to your Generation Y expert testers.

While you’re at it, run your marketing strategy past them.

Be prepared for—and welcome—criticism. Candor is in these days.

Look at these marketing moves as long-term efforts. A lot of millennials have crushing student loan debt. They may not have had the chance to establish themselves at a company or in a career before 2008 hit, and they may have taken a financial beating because of that.

But experts who study such things say that Generation Y is loyal to brands – once they’ve proven themselves.

A State of Mind

Of course, you probably don’t worry about marketing to millennials unless you’re selling products or services that would be of interest to them. But don’t be absolutely tied to the age demographic. You’ll find the Gen Y mindset in 80-year-olds as well as 20-somethings today.


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