Pew Research defines millennials as anyone born between 1981 and 1997. With more than 80 million in the US alone, millennials have an annual buying power of $200 billion, making them by far the most lucrative market on the planet. As a marketer, your main obligation is to tap into the largest and most relevant audience possible but, despite the power of the millennial consumer, many brands are still not prioritizing them even when they should.
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, comprise a generation that is very much a product of modern technology. They also comprise a group of people who are teetering on the edge of their biggest spending years and, as every business knows, those with the deepest pockets often turn out to be the best customers.
Of course, not every company offers a product or service that’s of interest to the millennial generation. Nonetheless, there are a lot that aren’t marketing properly to millennials when they undoubtedly should be. After all, many companies remain stuck in the old ways or have yet to truly adopt modern marketing methods of the type that actually appeal to younger generations. It’s understandable given that there tends to be a huge gap between the way baby boomers and millennials think, particularly with regards to the way they react to advertising.
Millennials and Brand Loyalty
With the vast wealth of choice afforded by online shopping, one might understandably assume that millennials are among the most likely of all to shop around to find the best deal, moving from one brand to another with every purchase they make. However, a study by Elite Daily found that this isn’t actually the case and, perhaps surprisingly, millennials are actually the most brand-loyal generation of all. The study found that just over half of them claimed they were loyal to their favourite brands. Although brand loyalty might not be significantly higher among millennials than it is among other generations, a lot of marketers make the mistake of disregarding return customers because they assume that millennials rarely come back for more.
The main reason that millennials tend to be loyal to the brands they use is that, rather than being swayed to make purchase decisions based on traditional advertising approaches, they rely on social proof to influence them. Inbound marketing revolves around building brand loyalty, whereas fewer than one percent of millennials claim to be influenced by traditional methods of advertising. After all, when faced with practically unlimited choice, it’s often easier just to stay with one tried and tested brand, and that usually ends up being the brand with the best reputation.
Millennials and Technology
Although older generations are less likely to eschew modern technology than they used to be, millennials tend to be far more in touch with it than anyone else. After all, they were the first generation to grow up in the age of the personal computer, the Internet and the mobile phone, all things that we’ve come to rely on enormously in our daily lives. Around three-quarters of millennials own a laptop and more than two-thirds own a smartphone, so it’s hardly surprising that online content is the most visible to them.
Millennials also shape the modern sharing economy whereby people are increasingly more interested in experiences rather than material things. In other words, they’re more likely to be interested in tuning in to a new set of services rather than buying more material objects. For example, the unprecedented rise in popularity of streaming media, digital video rentals and digital distribution platforms for just about everything that can be digitalised has spelled the decline of many traditional industries. Younger generations are also more likely to be seduced by real experiences presented in a way that they can really relate to, such as through immersive visuals and interactive content.
Millennials and Purchase Channels
The most important consideration for any successful e-commerce venture is to fully understand the customer journey, particularly in the case of millennials. While older generations might still tend to prefer walking into a traditional high-street store, millennials are statistically more likely to shop online, but it’s not as simple as that. Millennials are increasingly using multiple channels throughout the online shopping experience and, as a marketer, you need to make sure that your brand is present on all of these channels.
There might be a lot of talk about the decline of the desktop (laptops included), but over two-thirds of millennials demand a seamless, integrated experience across all devices, mobiles and desktops included. For example, most people now use a smartphone to access the Web, and the majority of time spent online takes place on the small screen. However, while the small screen makes for a popular browsing platform, most people, millennials included, still prefer to use their laptops for actually making purchases.
Millennials and Website Usability
Owing to the fact that most of them demand a seamless user experience across all of the Internet-enabled devices they use, millennials are quick to be turned off by any usability issues with a website. They might be familiar with modern technology, but they’re also notoriously short on patience, so any annoying glitches, long loading times or intrusive advertising is likely to turn them off right away. In other words, millennials expect convenience and reliability at the tap of a button and, if anything comes between them and having that experience, your brand will suffer.
Younger people tend to be experts at searching the Internet for a better deal, so there’s not likely to be any reason for them to stay on a website they’re not 100 percent satisfied with. Fortunately, brands can leverage this fact by providing detailed and relevant content presented in the form of a responsive website that offers an impeccable user experience on both the small and the large screen. In conclusion, just because millennials know how to use modern technology doesn’t mean that they don’t still have other issues with your website.
Millennials and Content
Millennials spend a staggering 25 hours per week online, according to AdAge. They spend this time scouring social media, reading blogs and other websites or watching videos on YouTube. At the same time, they’re frantically sharing content they like on Facebook and Twitter, forwarding emails that they find entertaining and getting actively involved in online forums and blog comment streams.
Every marketer has heard time and again that content is king, but it’s not so much content that’s king as it is conversation. Content that is engaging, relevant and authentic enough empowers millennials by giving them something to share and talk about. By contrast, outbound marketing, which relies entirely on interrupting people while making no real attempt to build meaningful connections, does nothing to empower people. As such, millennials really don’t trust traditional advertising.
For any company to thrive in today’s competitive and digitally orientated marketplace, it is crucial to market through the right channels to the right audience. If you want to effectively engage a millennial audience, as most businesses should, you’ll need to get to know them through and through. This means making the shift from traditional outbound marketing methods towards inbound marketing, where it’s all about building meaningful relationships with the real people who make your business function.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.