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How to market to millennials

5th Jan 2016
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Millennials have gone from a minority interest’ demographic to a purchasing powerhouse. Generally defined as those aged 18-34 in 2015 this generation has some seriously unique attributes. They’ve grown up with the internet, they’re the most data saturated generation in the history of all human existence. Millennials are the generation that live online, that Google or Bing whenever they have a question and they’re the generation that are really giving Marketers headaches!

Millennials present a number of unique challenges to Marketers. More than any other generation Millennials are driven by social opinions and Social Proof. 84% of Millennials rely on social opinions as a key part of their decision making process. Social Networks have replaced traditional word of mouth; a friend liking and engaging with the content from a particular brand causes that brand and their endorsement of it to show up across the newsfeeds and streams of all of their friends. Not engaging in Social Media Marketing really isn’t an option for a modern business that wishes to reach and influence a Millennial audience.

marketing to millennials

The upshot of this is that in order to gain traction amongst a Millennial audience you must create content they identify and engage with. Shares and Comments on Facebook are as powerful for Marketing as a word of mouth recommendation, this can take some adjusting to. Learning to create content that resonates with your target audience is a process of trial and error but there are some guidelines you can follow to streamline the process.

Use different media types. Short articles, Long articles, Videos, Infographics. See which types of post get the most engagement and deduce why that it is.

Keep your output varied, don’t find one media type with high engagement and stick only to that format.

Remember to create what your audience wants to see, not what you want to create!

One of the ways the Millennials have earned the reputation of ‘always online’ is their use of mobile devices to access the internet. Upwards of 85% of Millennials in the US have a Smartphone and the figures for the UK are very similar. More time is spent browsing the internet on Mobile devices than on Desktops and Laptops and the share PCs have is only set to shrink further as more people use Tablets, Smart TVs and games consoles to access the internet.

This means you must ensure your website utilises Responsive Web Design. If your website isn’t fully mobile responsive then you will lose customers. On average if a customer using a mobile device hasn’t found what they’re looking for within 7 seconds they will navigate away from the website. 43% of Millennials regularly use their mobile device to search for product information while in a shop. You can’t afford to not engage them on their terms. Big brands can invest in Apps to try and mitigate this kind of behaviour, smaller businesses must simply make sure their websites are responsive and that their reputation is positive!

Young people today don’t fit into the Brand Loyalty paradigms of previous generations. Previous generations may have stuck with the same car manufacturer because they wanted to buy a machine produced in their nation that has a reputation for reliability like Ford in the USA. These days young people engage with brands on a much more personal level, young people feel the brands they choose to support represent them as a person and as such expect more from them. One of the most illustrative examples of this phenomena is the above average interest in ‘ethical’ products amongst Millenials even those on a below average wage.

This expectation of a brand to ‘get them’ extends beyond just corporate policy and into all interactions the customers have with the brand. Millennials expect their chosen brands to engage with them on Social Media and to speak to them personally. Because of this more personal relationship with brands we have seen a shift in attitudes around how brands are sought and chosen. Millennials are the group most likely to trust a stranger’s opinions over an endorsed expert’s. This means that having a doctor on your ad or a number of doctor’s endorsements in print often mean less than the number and tone of the reviews on a 3rd party website.

All of these facts have positive and negative connotations. Millennials are more willing than any other age group to pay more for a brand that they feel represents them well. This can allow small businesses to compete with industry giants and really exploit niches in a youth culture rife with sub-groups and diverse identity politics. Because Millennials are so active on Social Media it’s relatively easy to target these niches. Facebook gives the ability to laser target Paid Ads to very specific sets of people and sponsored content on Social Media get’s much better engagement than normal banner ads.

Marketing to Millennials requires an understanding of 3 key principles.

You must engage your audience on their terms, gone are the days of just throwing an ad on a billboard or the radio and waiting for the results. This generation are so distrustful and desensitised to advertising that you’ll just be wasting your money.

A brand no longer says more about the product than the consumer. Not every business needs to give this the same amount of attention but all need to give it some. Millennials in general believe the brands they buy tell people about them as a person; reputation and CSR are more important than ever.

Mobile is the future. This doesn’t apply only for those targeting Millennials but it’s a point worth repeating. If your website is not fully responsive you will be losing customers.


Creativity by Stephen Thomas a member of the WSI-eMarketing Team

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