Poke fun all you want at us hipsters, the beakless tweeters, and the Facebookers who probably haven’t bought a tangible book in years. We walk toting tablets in hand, socializing on our smartphones, addicted to our favorite apps. Our stereotypes make fantastic jokes to lighten boardroom discussions, but the truth is that this generation—the Millennials—is 86 million strong and, with current predictions estimating our pockets to hold $2.45 trillion in annual spending power by 2015, we are the major consumer group of not only today but of the tomorrows to come. How to market to Millennials is big business.
As you know, new customers bring new expectations. If you want to attract Gen Y, your companies must TEAR themselves away from traditional techniques and design their new marketing efforts around the four factors that best appeal to Millennials like me:
- Environmental Impact
Earn Our Trust, Earn Our Business – Be Transparent or Else!
As Ryan Donegan, a Millennial and writer for the Huffington Post acknowledges, “We’re quite possibly the most informed consumer generation ever to face marketing professionals.” With the convenience of tablets and smartphones comes constant access to the internet, meaning knowledge can be obtained at any time and from anywhere.
With answers just a Google search away, misleading advertisements for overpriced or overrated products can be quickly dispelled. In all honesty, Millennials are skeptics. We don’t trust you, let alone your ads that pop up, roll across, or play on our screens like some sort of sugar-crazed toddler. In a sense, having access to an abundance of information since childhood has developed advanced BS detectors in the 86 million Gen Y minds. Any marketing jargon resembling an old-fashioned, over-the-top sales pitch surrounding a product immediately triggers a chorus of alarms in our heads.
Although we still thirst for information, we are attracted to what is concise rather than what is more detailed. In short, less is more; less information, less embellishment will translate into more interest, more belief. We want it clean, clear, and straight to the point.
We’re Not All Going to Join Greenpeace, but we Do Care!
According to Trevor Neilson, the President of the Global Philanthropy Group, 61% of Gen Y is concerned about the state of the world and is driven to make a difference due to a sense of personal responsibility. It is this moral obligation instilled within Millennial hearts that has fueled the success of such benevolent companies as Toms and Starbucks Coffee.
Brian Halligan of Inc.com concluded in his article “How Millennials Think, and What to Do About It” that those of Gen Y “need to believe in your product and the message behind it.” Rather than simply presenting how your product affects our lives, you must consider its effect on the environment as well.
Even if your company does not hold any ties to nonprofit organizations or charitable movements, consider the capabilities of your products out in the world. Not only will we want to know what your product does for us, but we will also want to know what it does for people across the globe.
We Need Access 24/7 and Anywhere we Go!
As a member of America’s largest demographic, let me remind you that we were raised on instant downloads, on-demand television, and Wi-Fi access. We are accustomed to getting what we want within minutes of deciding we want it.
In other words, us Millennials no longer value the touch and feel of a product—but rather the ease and convenience of acquiring it. It is this intense focus on accessibility that has attributed much to the popularity of Apple Inc. and has inspired innovations like Amazon Prime.
Gen Y is a generation on the move. Gone are the days of families sitting down on the couch to tune into channel 5’s evening sitcom. And what is replacing that single screen? A multitude of others bring the same experience of the television set to the palm of one’s hand. Laptops, tablets, smartphones, you name it—all have to power to stream and download music, magazines, books, TV shows, and movies at the tap of a fingertip.
To be frank, as Millennials like me leave the material world behind and shift their attention toward the technological mess of mass media, so must you. Take the investment your company usually devotes to physical media advertising and put it into ads that will find Gen Y screens.
Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter, Inc. offer targeted audiences programs engineered to close in on users that have already expressed interest in your product or those of your competitors, translating into higher returns-per-engagement. Also, analyze your online purchasing processes.
Is it short and sweet? Studies have proven that the shorter the sales process, the higher the close rate.
Empower Us to Make Our Mark!
Regardless of what you may expect from the generation that has replaced most face-to-face conversations with text messaging, posts, and tweets, we still lust for personal connection. As mentioned earlier, our fret for the world drives us to make a difference.
This hipster era of championed individuality has fostered an obsession, an obsession with the possibility to be able to contribute a piece of ourselves to the larger environment in which we duel. Thus, we are attracted to products that grant us that power—the power to make a mark, no matter how small. Companies that have identified this desire have retargeted their ad campaigns accordingly.
Call of Duty: Black Ops recently released sported the slogan “Brings Out the Soldier in All of Us” and the newest iPad Air commercial featured Robin Williams speech from the film Dead Poets Society and concluded with the question: “What will your verse be?” Your marketing efforts must not simply tell, but show us Millennials how your products will impact our lives. Are they necessary for everyday tasks? Will they help us bring out new aspects of ourselves? Do they empower us, the consumer, to do something greater? You must meet us on our level and relate to our desires, our goals, our passions.
It is time to open your eyes—and your marketing budgets—to the Millennial consumer base, the largest demographic in the nation. You cannot simply dust off traditional advertising methods to be reused on this new generation. We are too aware of your tricks, too advanced in our knowledge that your old tactics simply do not compute. If you want to intrigue Gen Y, you must rid your companies of the old blueprints and return to the marketing drawing board with pen in hand and four fundamentals in mind: transparency, environmental impact, accessibility, and relatability.