The millennials are all grown up and are taking over the consumer market. In fact, according to a Nielsen study, millennials make up about one-fourth of the total U.S. population.
However, marketers are having a difficult time reaching out to this demographic. The old traditional marketing methods do not work and they are harder to convince.
That is because they are, you guessed it, a different generation. Their culture, beliefs, and influences are a lot different than what the Gen X and the older generation was accustomed to. This is the generation that grew up with the Internet, which makes them more digitally connected to information compared to any other generations.
To give you a glimpse of how you can approach marketing to millennials, here are some things you should know about this demographic:
1. Debt makes them appreciate the present more than the future
This demographic is in financial debt. While the older generations have enjoyed relatively more affordable education with subsidies from the federal and state government, millennials are left with high tuition rates and a continuing decrease in real income. That is why most millennials have high student loans to pay off after college. Add the dependency on credit cards, and we have a generation that ended up in a debt rut.
That is why long-term products and services are not as appealing to them. After all, how can they think of buying a big house when they still have so many long-term loans to pay? What they are interested in, however, are experiences. What makes them happy now is worthier of the spend than something for the future.
That is one of the reasons why the tiny house movement has gained traction as well. Tiny homes, aside from obviously being smaller, are significantly cheaper than the average American home. The savings they get from smaller mortgage (or having no mortgage at all) can be used to fund memorable experiences instead: a vacation, a new device, good food, etc.
2. Price is secondary to sustainability
Traditional marketing almost always focuses on value based on savings and price. Millennials, however, are not always about that. It turns out that, they also care about where their products or services came from, and how it was produced.
Apparently, social responsibility is one of the keys to winning millennials over. They are actually willing to shell out more for sustainable products or services. It is not enough that you are a good company, your business should also be willing to make a public commitment to showing people that you are also doing some good for the world.
One of the best examples of this type of marketing scenario is TOMS shoes. They don’t exactly have the best quality shoes in the market and their prices are not exactly cheap either, but the brand’s commitment to using sustainable products and improving lives in impoverished nations brings them massive support from the millennial market.
3. All about that mobile device
According to a study by the Pew Research Center in 2016, 92 percent of Americans aged 19 to 29 have a smartphone. In fact, most millennials access their social media accounts exclusively through their mobile devices as well. Millennials also trust that the information from the desktop version of a website is the same as the information found in its mobile counterpart. The best part, according to Google, they shop and book their travels through mobile too.
This shows how important it is for businesses to have their information readily accessible in mobile form. That is why many companies are investing in creating a better user experience for their mobile websites including faster loading time and making it responsive for mobile use.
Companies are also investing in their own mobile apps so as to dictate how information will be presented to consumers, and provide users with the optimal user experience.
4. Word of mouth is amplified through social media
According to an SDL study, five out of six millennials use social media platforms to reach out and connect with companies. In addition, they are not afraid to use these platforms to express how they feel about a product or a service.
Now, this can be a double-edged sword, provide a good product or service and you can expect millennials to spread the good word about you in their social media accounts. The amplified word-of-mouth effect can really help a small business reach out to more people without really spending much.
However, provide a crappy product, and the same will happen. Negative reviews will also be amplified and will forever be existing in web archives. That is why companies have started to hire social media reputation managers to handle the bad reviews going around about their product or service.
5. They can be ruthless, but also forgiving
The thing about the millennial demographic is that they are in control. Disappoint them and they will move to the next best choice without hesitation. And as said above, their decision to move away from you may come with a bad review on social media as well.
However, as ruthless as they seem. They are also very forgiving and will give a company a second chance. However, that forgiveness has to be earned with a public apology and ownership of responsibility over the source of disappointment.
This is contrary to how traditional businesses run things in the past where the reaction would be to either sweep it under the rug or lay blame to something/someone else to keep their image of being infallible.
However, this kind of strategy does not really work anymore. Just look at Samsung. They had a very bad 2016 when a number of their Galaxy Note 7 burst into flames because of a lithium-ion battery issue. Aside from a massive recall, Samsung issued an apology owning up to their mistake by saying that they fell short on their promise to offer best-in-class safety and quality. At the time, there were even rumors that Samsung planned to discontinue the Galaxy Note series because of it.
Fast-forward to 2017 and Samsung has not only recovered from the fiasco, their new Galaxy Note 8 is doing well sales-wise in the US and around the world. Just goes to show that a good ol’ apology with a kick-ass product or service can help your company regain lost luster from a previous mistake.
These are just some of the qualities that define the millennial market. Instead of hard-selling and traditional marketing ploys, try to appeal to what is important to them, which are experiences, sustainability, and sincerity.