Millennials. It seems everyone’s talking about them. Their likes. Their dislikes. Their shortcomings. Their spending habits. Marketing to Millennials isn’t your grandma’s marketing. In order to reach the 18-30 set, you’ve got to understand a little bit about them and adjust some of your tactics if you wish to get their attention.
Who Are The Millennials?
Millennials, also known as Generation Y (solely based on the fact that they came after Generation X), refers to the subset of the population born in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Some people may refer to this group as the Peter Pan Generation and the Boomerang Generation, because of their reputation for moving back home with their parents after college.
Millennials have been studied, labeled, stereotyped, and patronized. They are often classified as lazy, job hopping, narcissists who mooch off of their parents. Some, like Ron Alsop, the author of the book The Trophy Kids Grow Up, blame the parents for the perceived shortcomings of this generation. According to the book, Millennials have entitled attitudes and unrealistic expectations about work because they were the first generation to receive participation awards for competitive sports, and they have an almost Velcro-like attachment to their parents.
Time Magazine tackled the Millennials in May of 2013. The article, titled “The Me Me Me Generation” focuses on the complexities of the generation. Sociological research supports the negative stereotypes of Millennials, having grown up in the AOL era, watching reality television, with the “Me Generation” (Baby Boomers) as parents. But it also points out that Millennials are the first generation of teens since, well, ever, to not rebel, as they have nothing to rebel against (thanks to their permissive parents). They are also, according to the article, very positive and optimistic about their futures. As self-absorbed and entitled as Millennials may be, they are also much more open-minded than older generations.
Connecting With Millennial Customers
So how can organizations connect with this extremely complex demographic? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but here are some tips that can help you communicate with Millennials:
- Show Social Media Savvy. Not only do you have to have social media profiles, but you must be active on those profiles. And Facebook alone won’t cut it. Millennials hang out on Facebook, yes, but they’re also on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. By utilizing a variety of social networks, you can better connect with Gen Y.
- How are Your Reviews? Millennials don’t make decisions without checking online reviews. So make sure that a) You’ve got profiles set up on sites like Yelp or Amazon and b) you’ve got excellent reviews. Millennials need to know that other people find your business acceptable before they’ll try you out. This is not a generation that falls for slick ad campaigns, nor do they make impulse purchases (sorry, infomercial producers).
- Don’t be Clever for the Sake of Being Clever. A while back, Microsoft launched a video called “Child of the 90’s.” It was clever. It was nostalgic for that generation. But that was that. It did nothing to draw Millennials to Internet Explorer. They watched the video on Safari and Chrome, maybe shared it with a few hundred friends on social media, and when it was over, they went right back to what they were doing…on Safari and Chrome.
- Get Interactive. Get Millennials involved with your campaigns. This is a gadget generation, and they love participating in user-generated content (UGC). They also like to make suggestions and win contents. If you’re considering developing a new product or service, ask them what they think about it.
- Give Something Away. This generation is strapped with more debt than any generation in history. They are also suffering from crippling unemployment and underemployment. Overall, Millennials (especially those on the younger side) don’t have lots of cash to throw around. That’s why they have to be discerning about where they spend their money. But, if you’re too rich for their blood, give them some free stuff. Millennials will happily take your free T-shirts, tote bags, and stickers. And they’ll wear and display them, giving you a bit of free promotion wherever they go.
- Make Sure Users Can Purchase Online (and that you’ve got fast shipping options). Amazon and Zappos have spoiled all of us when it comes to online shopping. But Gen X and Baby Boomers are typically more patient when it comes to waiting for the UPS truck. Millennials can buy almost anything on Amazon with a guarantee it will arrive in two days. They do not necessarily want to schlep out to your shop to make a purchase, nor will they, especially if your competitor offers their products for sale online. If you don’t have an online shopping cart, get one. And be darn sure you have quick-ship options.
- And Please. Don’t do this. EVER. I have no idea what GM was going for, here. But it’s quite terrible.
No matter how well you promote your product to Millennials, if it’s not top-quality, it’s not going to resonate with them. Don’t mistake their youth for stupidity. They are very discerning customers (think of all the kids with MacBooks who can’t afford to buy their own lunch), and they will fork over money for quality. If you don’t meet their expectations, they’ll be sure to tell their friends on Social Media. And leave you a bad review. On every site they can.
How do you connect with your Millennial customer base?
Latest posts by Prudence Shank (see all)
- How To Write A Blog Post: An Infographic - January 1, 1970
- Ah, Native Advertising. How We Love To Hate You. - January 1, 1970
- Marketing To Millennials: How To Connect With Generation Y - January 1, 1970