Like them or loathe them (be honest), millennials make up no less than the largest living generation. In numbers totaling around 77 million worldwide and with annual spending power in the US alone of $1.3 trillion, it’s hardly surprising every brand and business wants to win over millennial audiences. Which are huge, influential and quite happy to part with sizeable sums of cash.
That is, if you appropriately appeal to their sensibilities.
One of the biggest crises currently being faced by marketers worldwide is the way in which reaching millennials demands a very specific and distinctive approach. What works for most other audiences has the very real potential to drive millennials in the exact opposite direction. They’re glued to their mobile devices, their online personas matter just as much as their actual selves and they’re inherently sceptical…if not entirely cynical.
Which makes the whole thing sound like one seriously tough nut to crack. Nevertheless, become one of a select few brands that knows how to hit home with millennials and you could be laughing all the way to the bank.
But before this becomes possible, there are 10 uniquely important lessons every marketer could do with learning about millennial audiences.
- They’re Not Typical Consumers
The first of which being that millennials do not see themselves as consumers in the typical sense. Nor do they see themselves as fans or followers of whatever it is you do. Instead, they view themselves and their generation in general as part of an active group with none of the conventional business-customer barriers. Social-media having put everyone on the same level and nurtured engagement and interaction between all parties. Or to put it another way, you’re one of them and they’re one of you – you’re all part of the same group and on the same level.
- They’re Wise to Marketing Tricks
In generations gone by, the kinds of marketing tricks and tactics you could get away with were plentiful to say the least. These days, millennials are not only aware and wary of marketing tricks, but downright skeptical about anything that can even be considered ‘marketing’ of any kind. To millennials, the idea of marketing is essentially as good as being played for a fool. The marketer being the puppet-master looking to control and manipulate his or her subjects with false promises and sales spiel. Millennials know, understand and are wary of conventional marketing tactics…hence their lack of influence and value.
- They’re Highly Influenceable
Paradoxically, this free-thinking and seemingly stubborn generation is also highly influenceable. With millennials, trends and fads take hold and gain traction at the kind of pace that’s borderline bewildering. Kale. Avocados. Beards. Typewriters in Starbucks. You get the idea. They typically like to see themselves as the types who refuse to follow the herd. Though in actuality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hence the importance of keeping on top of the latest millennial fads, trends and movements.
- They Crave Knowledge
For millennials, quality and value for money don’t necessarily add up to an attractive product. That is, unless you can tell them where it came from, how it was sourced, the backstory of the brand behind it and at least some kind of USP as to why they should trust and spend their money with you. Which is understandable, given the fact that regardless of what it is you do and/or sell, chances are there are thousands of others out there doing and selling exactly the same. They have massive freedom of choice and aren’t afraid to make use of it.
- They’re Anti-Institution
Not necessarily to a Rage Against the Machine extent, but millennials typically do not take kindly to big brands and corporations. Or at least, big brands and corporations that aren’t able to win them over with tales of their eco-friendly operations, community commitment and so on. For the most part however, millennials are instinctively pre-programmed to assume that big is bad. That the biggest, richest and most successful businesses and individuals alike cannot and should not be trusted. By contrast, they are far more likely to instinctively trust smaller businesses, micro-influencers and their fellow millennials in general.
- Chat Is King
Despite being known to check their phones a minimum of 43 times a day, millennials are typically aversed to making calls. Particularly when it comes to customer service, enquiries, complaints, queries and so on. They’re not even fond of penning emails. Instead, millennials expect companies to provide 24/7 live-chat facilities, giving them instant access to the answers they need around the clock. The absence of such facilities being a known and potentially severe turn-off for millennial audiences.
- First Is Best
These days, being the first to find out about anything is tricky. News breaks, you take the liberty of sharing it and by the time you do so, it’s already yesterday’s news. Hence why as far as millennials are concerned, web content and blogs posts that simply recycle what they already know represents a waste of their time. And given that they consider themselves to have little to no available time to waste in the first place, this isn’t a good thing. If you really want to appeal to millennial audiences, you need to remain on the cutting edge of whatever it is that interests them and bring them the latest news, updates and info before anyone else does.
- The Quicker, the Better
Remaining with that point for a moment, it’s worth remembering that millennials have the most shockingly short attention spans – particularly when it comes to marketing. Incredibly, research suggests that the average millennial has an attention span of no more than about 5 seconds when it comes to ads. This means that whatever it is you need to say, you really need to focus on saying it as quickly and concisely as possible. Which is made even more difficult by the fact that millennials also expect everything you provide to have a solid entertainment factor in-built as standard.
- They’re Far from Loyal
Continually satisfy, delight and amuse millennials and they’ll be putty in your hands. However, get things wrong just once and they’ll abandon you without so much as a second thought. In fact, they’ll most likely take things one step further by actively encouraging others to do likewise. One of the biggest differences between millennial audiences and traditional consumers is the way in which it’s rare to get a second chance with the former. They often view errors and oversights as a clear indication of incompetence.
- They’re All About Social Proof
Last but not least, if you want a millennial audience to believe so much as a word you have to say, you have to get someone else to say it on your behalf. Spend the rest of your life creating an award-worthy sales pitch while wearing your heart on your sleeve and it’ll be a life wasted. By contrast, publish just a handful of (genuine) customer reviews/recommendations and you’re onto a winner. Better yet, get one or more key influencers on your side and you’ll be laughing. Feel free to make all the claims and promises you like, but remember that they won’t count for jack unless comprehensively backed up by the required social proof.
Combine all of the above and you find yourself staring at a rather daunting and perplexing prospect. You’d be forgiven for thinking that millennial audiences were no less than stubborn, if not well and truly out to get you.
In reality however, this isn’t the case at all. Instead, it’s a case of millennial audiences representing a natural and inevitable evolution of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. Back in the day, you could tell the average consumer just about anything and they’d respond by throwing money at you. These days, you need to clarify and communicate the value of whatever it is you have to offer – not to mention your brand as a whole – before you can expect to be taken seriously.
If anything therefore, you could say that millennial audiences are simply looking for one thing above all else – transparency. No gimmicks, no false promises and no semblance of being taken for a ride for the benefit of the business in question. Just the products, services and resources they need, provided when, where and how they need them from sources they have faith in.
Of course, making it happen could very well mean completely altering your current approach to digital and print marketing alike. Nevertheless, given that millennials aren’t going anywhere and nor are their consumer habits, it’s a change that needs to be made sooner rather than later. And when you factor in exactly what’s to come when millennials’ babies grow up and become the next consumer generation, it’s most likely going to be a case of all of the above X10.
So rather than fighting tooth and nail against an audience you feel has it out for you, why not capitalize on the unique opportunities millennial audiences represent?