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With Millennials being the largest consumer demographic in the U.S., the ever-increasing number of online retailers, subscription box services, and direct-to-consumer brands are in intense competition for the attention and loyalty of this generation. Marketing to Millennials has become a key focus for any digital e-commerce business, and for very good reasons.
According to the report The State of Consumer Spending: Millennials Flexing their Retail Market Influence in U.S. and U.K., Millennials are the biggest spenders per visit both in-store and online in the U.S. Additionally, they are the most impulsive purchasers and more likely to add unplanned items to their carts than other generations.
Marketing to this lucrative audience has its nuances because Millennials aren’t as likely as Gen-Xers and Boomers to respond to traditional advertising or marketing tactics. So, in this article, we provide tips on how to create a killer strategy when it comes to marketing to Millennials.
The top 3 ingredients you need when marketing to Millennials
With Black Friday/Cyber Monday (BFCM) just around the corner, and the holiday season quickly approaching, an important characteristic about the Millennial audience is that, although they have an enormous amount of purchasing power, they are not a heavy consumerist generation like the Baby Boomers.
So what are the biggest values that inform the purchasing decisions of these powerful and plentiful consumers?
In a report conducted by Sprout Social, Millennials ranked social media as the most important communication channel for brands to establish transparency. 81% of respondents hold the expectation for brands to be transparent. So what does this even mean? Let’s start by looking at what they view as the opposite of transparency.
Millennials view the following social media practices as a demonstration of a brand’s lack of transparency:
- Withholding information (69% of respondents)
- Ignoring customer questions (68%)
- Ignoring employee questions (58%)
- Avoiding relevant political/social issues (34%)
- Not posting very often (20%)
Lead with authenticity
In a world of celebrity endorsements, sponsored posts, and paid influencers, consumers crave authenticity more than ever. An overwhelming 90% of Millennials say brand authenticity is important, preferring ‘real and organic’ over ‘perfect and packaged’.
Being social media-savvy, Millennials can also easily spot consumer-created content vs. brand-created content. And not only can they tell the difference, but they will also disconnect with brands that don’t feel are genuine. On average, 30% of Millennials unfollow a brand on social media because they feel their content is inauthentic.
Sustainability is a must-have, not a nice-to-have
Nielsen polled 30,000 consumers around the world and found that across the board, consumers are willing to pay extra for sustainability. This is especially true for Millennials, with 73% willing to pay more for sustainable goods.
Sustainable product sales have grown 20 percent since 2014. At the same time, conventional product sales have dropped. Millennials, in particular, are having such a strong influence on the market that Nielsen predicts the sustainability market will balloon to $150 billion by 2021.
Examples of brands that have won and failed at connecting with Millennials
Creating marketing programs that tap into these values will help you appeal to Millennials, but it’s imperative you execute in a way that makes sense for your brand.
Chevrolet took a wrong turn
As an example, Chevrolet’s #HiddenGems social campaign missed the mark in terms of brand authenticity. The campaign used video ads featuring Buzzfeed writers from LA, New York, and Chicago driving around in search of the perfect selfie spot.
Using social media and partnering with Buzzfeed influencers was the perfect way to reach Millennials. But, the campaign ultimately failed because it played on the negatively associated stereotype of Millennials being self-obsessed and superficial, and didn’t make a clear connection back to Chevrolet’s brand identity.
Birchbox thinks out of the box
On the other hand, since first starting in 2010, Birchbox has developed itself into a highly successful brand among Millennials, providing a convenient subscription box service focused on beauty and wellness products.
The success of their marketing campaigns was based on their transparent and community-minded approach. Birchbox created strong online communities through a variety of social platforms, practiced transparency by sharing customer reviews and photos, and promoted sustainable products.
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Putting it all into practice
When marketing to Millennials, it’s essential to remember that these consumers aren’t just after the latest trend, the newest technology, or the best deal. They care about the brands they engage with and the ethics and operations behind sourcing and producing the products and services, and how they get from production to the consumer’s door or device. Be transparent in all your marketing channels by communicating sustainable shipping practices, ethical sourcing, and how your practices align with your brand values.
You’ll be successful in marketing to Millennials if you can go beyond the usual noise and traditional chatter of brand promotion. Creating a genuine connection with your audience by communicating how your brand represents the same values as they do will take you beyond simply acquiring new customers. Instead, you’ll be able to garner a powerful Millenial audience that will be loyal to your brand for life.
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