Advertising to Millenials

Blog Top Banner (1)Advertising has changed.

Are you keeping up?

If you want your share of the Millennial market, don’t be stuck in last century’s marketing and advertising! What worked for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers may not work on Millennials. With each new generation, advertisers have to adapt because the old ways often won’t work… but many companies believe that “tried and true” methods are carved in stone and because they worked in the past, they will work in the future. This misguided attitude will only result in getting left behind, becoming irrelevant and losing significant revenue.

Who Are Millennials?

Millennials (ages 15-34) have been called spoiled. They’ve been called entitled. Everybody is a winner and everybody gets a gold star just for showing up.

We may hate those traits in them, but like all generations before them, Millennials are standing upon the shoulders of giants and the previous generations, and they are improving on what the previous generations experienced.

Except that they are doing it faster – a lot faster.

Millennials are digital natives. They are the first generation to have grown up with smartphones, tablets and laptops as extensions of their bodies and brains. They are tech-agile idealists whose expectations are still emerging (due to their age and life experiences), and instant access to social media and the Internet is at their beck and call 24/7.

The way Millennials consume information, and act on it, is different from their parents’ generation. Over the next 2 decades, Millennials will only increase their purchasing power and drive economies. It’s up to advertisers to come up with a new approach to this emerging and powerful market… and quickly.

However, it’s important to note that only about 42% of Millennials (36 million) are hyper-connected, according to a study by advertising agency Carat. What about the other 49 million? Are they all joined at the hip to their mobile devices?

No. They are not. And so, your marketing efforts aimed at Millennials has to be more creative than just flooding the Internet with your message.

Doug Ray, US CEO and Global President of Carat, says that marketing to Millennials as a homogeneous segment is “like marketing to an entire country.” That blanket approach does not take into account individual needs and preferences. As with any other segment, focusing efforts on one group that is easily tracked, completely misses the mark on the rest of the population.

This is a mobile and changeable market segment made up of individuals who all want to feel recognised and heard. It’s vital to see them as individual people, not one big generation. Millennials can be broken down into smaller groups. These groups, as defined by Carat, include:

  • “Trend-netters”: this is the stereotypical Millennial, a digital extrovert who spreads trends (they rarely set trends, but they spread trends). This culture-savvy, hip group is easy to track because they are joined at the hip with their devices and their often impulsive purchases center on brands that communicate luxury and the good life. Trend-netters make up about 42% of this generation.
  • Alter-natives: this younger segment of Millennials – 23% is less conformist and image-conscious. They only share with select people, and because of their strong desire for privacy, they only share what they want others to know. According to Carat, this group doesn’t feel the need to have the latest gadget, and they are less concerned with image.
  • Lifepreneurs: 19% of Millennials are concerned with life balance. They are okay with not being connected 24/7; while they are ambitious, they also set firm boundaries. This group seeks out reliable, practical brands that convey value.
  • Beta-Blazers: This 16% is comprised of the true trend-setters. They seek out story-driven brands, niche brands that convey quality and integrity, and do not purchase because of a brand’s popularity.

What Has Changed

People are still buying and consuming, but why, and how, has changed.

One crucial element is word-of-mouth, at the speed of wireless communication. Millennials ask their friends and social networks for purchasing advice, rather than relying on the messages touted by slick and sexy ads. This social conversation relies on peer influencers. The conversation becomes a collective filter of incoming information, that includes research as well as personal experience.

Traditional advertising may not work because it is estimated that ⅔ of Millennials block ads, so even the most appealing or compelling ad may simply never be seen!

Brand reputation is important. Millennials identify with brands, and say that their brands help them express who they are, their values and where they fit in. Millennials are often willing to pay extra for a brand or product that conveys the image, style and personality they wish to portray.

Millennials, while image- and culture-conscious, are also increasingly environmentally aware and will preferentially buy from companies that demonstrate environmental or social responsibility.

What Hasn’t Changed

Millennials are still influenced by gender differences that are not significantly different than preceding generations. Beauty, wealth, professional success, luxury, adventure and travel are important. Millennial women tend to focus more on beauty, anxiety and stress, fitness, health and “me time.” They also value local communities and local businesses. Millennial men tend to focus more on wealth, status, external recognition, professional success, luxury and quality.

What You Can Do – 10 Steps to Millennial Marketing Success

More than anything, cultivate a relationships with Millennials and inspire them to refer your brand.

1. If you have an advertising budget, hire Millennials, or an agency full of Millennials. They know what they want, they know what resonates with them, and they know where and how to pitch to their peers. “If you want to speak to a millennial audience, hire millennial to create the content for you,” says Havas North America chief creative officer Jason Peterson.

2. Be agile and keep up with social media trends. Millennials often feel like they’re missing out if they’re not connected – the question is, where are they connected? Facebook is becoming increasingly old-school (and full of Millennials’ parents) and so is Twitter. Snapchat, Instagram and Vine are current social media darlings… but wait a couple of months to launch a campaign, and you might miss the boat.

3. Reach out!

    • Engage them directly through 2-way conversations
    • Reward them with discounts
    • Recognise them
    • Ask for “likes” to generate engagement with your brand
  • Post product reviews and encourage Millennials to post and share reviews

4. Have all of your product/service information instantly available and easily accessible. Many Millennials do their research online while in a store.  

5. Be relevant. Many Millennials get their product advice from friends and spouses/partners, parents and celebrities rather than “experts” such as doctors or financial advisors.  Millennials are also less likely to view advertising as a trusted source of information. Speak to their generation, attitudes, preferences, values, beliefs and personalities. Hot topics are the environment, social responsibility, craftsmanship, adventure, happiness, wellness, humour and positivity about the future.

6. Be authentic. Through your storytelling, personality, actions and through community support (causes, volunteering, being socially responsible, etc.) express the values and image that Millennials wish to project about themselves. Millennials are more likely to buy from a socially or environmentally responsible company whose focus is on helping others, than from a company that appears solely profit-oriented. Millennials can smell fake social responsibility from far away! If your actions and values are aligned and you are clear in your environmental stewardship and social responsibility mission, then you will attract the attention of Millennials.

7. Use visual imagery that is ethnically and racially diverse, accepting of alternative gender roles and family structures, and even sexual orientation. Images of traditional nuclear families don’t resonate with Millennials; instead, think “tribes” of people working together for a common cause, non-traditional families and groups of diverse peoples. Millennials are generally group-oriented, especially when it comes to experiences.

8. Create a tribe around your product or service. Because Millennials are often about inclusion, set a positive and optimistic tone about feelings of inclusion in your group or “tribe.”

9. One-on-one or community connections are more powerful than “spam” marketing. Events, referral programs, social media presence, public relations, company-supported causes and social programs, customer recognition programs and testimonials from influencers speak volumes!

10. Ask! Crowdsource talent, ideas, solutions, products, services and even marketing strategies.

Long-established companies that are accustomed to a certain marketing presence may have to rethink their strategies to keep up with the growing Millennial market. Companies that can master the reciprocity principle and authentically help Millennials express themselves and share their own values, will have a competitive advantage.

1 thought on “Advertising to Millenials”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top