Spending potential, exceptionally high brand loyalty, and the utter size of the millennial generation has made it the darling of marketers. Study after study emphasizes the loyal buying habits of the group that has becomethe largest consumer cohort in the US. Once they find a company or product they like, 80% of Millennials will keep coming back, and even travel out of their way to stay with a preferred brand. These factors, and millennials’ discriminatory approach to marketing, has made the race to earn their loyalty a high-stakes game. To market to them properly, brands need to make adjustments across the entire marketing formula: form, content, and message.
Emphasizing how much Millennials use social media is as trite as it is necessary: 66% of millennialslearn about brands and products through social networking, and 90%will share their brand preferences online. But, posting and encouraging “shares” is not enough. Millennials have high expectations on social media, and focus on three things: 1) Authenticity, 2) Transparency, and 3) Interactions. Millennials expect brands to stick to who they are, to be honest, and to interact with them—they want a relationship with companies that they trust and align with their values. Emails are not to be ignored, either. According to findings from Adobe, millennials use email more than any other generation. However, they are checking their emails through their phones, so everything sent must be mobile friendly. Additionally, marketers need to choose wisely about the content of their email and how often they send them—this generation is44% more likely than others to permanently disengage with brands if they receive spammy messages on a regular basis.
Millennials have been forced to become keen discriminators because of the thousands of ads that they are bombarded with everyday. In order to make an impression on Millennials, marketers need to appeal to their unique values and interests, which requires identifying the target audiences and refining their messages to match them. Marketers who create good content are in for a prize. Millennials are very willing to share a brand’s content—especially visual content—with their friends when they find something they like, generating organic exposure. Marketers can take their campaigns to the next level by supplementing content with an extra element of engagement, such as a a chatbot in a Whatsapp or Facebook group.
Encouraging millennials to create their own content is a winning strategy as well. The anonymous uploader(s) of theBad Lip Reading videos for NFL games have garnered tens of millions of views over the past year. Whether the series–which provides voiceovers for the mouth movements of football players–was created by a millennial is unknown, but it has proven very popular within the group, and has inspired many to get involved in a sport they might have otherwise overlooked.
As the cited statistics show, millennials are looking for marketing with a message that appeals to their politics, sense of justice, ideals, social interests, etc. In their own way, millennials are very engaged for specific causes. Many companies have realized this, and have built social media and video campaigns accordingly. A good example of marketing by message was the #UberKITTENS campaign, which appealed to the sensibilities of digitally engaged millennials who care about animals. On National Cat Day, Uber customers could use the app to invite a kitten over from the pound for “15 minutes of kitten cuteness,” and were given the option to adopt the cat. Naturally, social media feeds were loaded with selfies of hosts and kittens. Demand, according to Uber, was “very high” in the cities where the program was run because marketers hit the appropriate buttons for Millennials.
This represents the ideal marketing model for Millennials that was firing on all gears: form (word of the event was spread on social media, mobile text message, and via an e-mail campaign to Uber customers), content (building a community of kittens and Uber users, both in person and online) and messaging (kittens!). The visits weren’t free, by the way. It cost $30 for those 15 minutes of kitten cuteness (the money was donated to a local animal shelter), but was of course waived in the event of an adoption. The message to marketers: do your homework and play your cards right, and you’ll pass the Millennial marketing test!
Levy Raiz is a Partner at Flint Capital