The millennial generation is the most talked-about generation of this time, and for good reason. Not only are they the topic analysis of behavioral scientists, but businesses want to find out more about them in order to figure out how to tap their enormous market potential. Getting millennial consumers on your side is important because they are enormous in number, have huge purchasing power, are tech-savvy, and actually engage with businesses. Getting the millennial consumer to patronize you is a huge win for your company. Just look at the numbers: according to Investopedia, they comprise 25% of the total American population of 320 million.
Because they are digital natives, getting their attention can mean strategic investment in marketing. In searching for products and services, they look at the brand’s efficient social media presence and the personalized experience it offers. The millennial consumer spends on what they believe is worth their money by researching before they buy a product. They do online searches about it, read online reviews, and ask their friends’ opinions through social media. The overall response can be almost immediate and revealing about the brand, leaving a huge influence on the millennial consumer’s decision.
But who is the millennial consumer? Born between 1982-1996, they are typically thought of as the ‘entitled’ generation, but that is not the full story. Millennials are the children of the digital age where almost every item seems almost on-demand. They want everything fast and they fiercely believe in the information that is given to them after research. Most have college degrees, and likely still paying their student loans. However, all that debt doesn’t stop them from spending more on their comfort, conveniences, and what they believe is a good reward for their hard work. They also tend to value experience, such as travel to rare destinations, over brick-and-mortar investments.
One important thing to know about them is that their earnings potential is growing. The traditional approaches that mesmerized their parents and older siblings don’t really work on them anymore. So how can marketers win over the millennial consumer?
- Do not rely on traditional in-your-face advertising – The McCarthy Group says that 80% of millennial consumers believe they are not given the full truth by traditional ads. They also do not want to be subjected to a hard-sell campaign. Instead, they rely on the advice of their friends and the opinion of their community when making buying decisions. Many also believe in influencers who have tried the products and services of the brands they are espousing. Use the power of the digital hive mind similar to what Volvo did. Instead of running ads on TV, they turned to Twitter during the Superbowl event with the #volvocontest to give a free car to a loved one. This resulted in the brand trending during the game, getting more impressions and earning more attention than any car maker in that time period
- Use the power of the truth – Millennials value authenticity and will not take any brand’s claims at face value. Armed with the knowledge of the digital hive mind, they can easily find out the truth in an instant and call advertisers out. It is no wonder that according to a survey by Stackla, 30% of millennials stop following brands that they believe not authentic. This is where companies can use micro-influencer advertising, which results in stronger engagement. For example, millennials would rather follow an influencer than follow a brand because they are perceived as “people like me”.
- Engage – Today’s technologies and social media have enabled the conversation from brand to consumer to be a two-way street. No longer is it the singular path from televisions talking to consumers with consumers having no way of talking back. Conversation and interaction are non-negotiable. Leads that are not engaged get frustrated and leave the brand for other companies who would engage with them. At the same time, Impact warns that 94% of people who feel ignored when raising a concern will share their unhappy experience with at least one person. This bad digital word of mouth will spread, and customers will stay away from the brand.
The maturing millennial consumer is both an opportunity and a challenge to the marketer. Their purchasing power and dominance of the market will inevitably increase. Cleverism cautions us, though, that even with a stronger purchasing power, 57% of millennials claim that they are unlikely to change their spending habits and buying behavior. They want to be convinced of the marketer’s claims. They want to have a convincing, ongoing conversation with the brand. It is time that the marketer should step up.