Millennials don’t need much of an introduction. The press they’ve been given in recent years unfortunately does most of the talking for them.
Narcissistic. Entitled. Bratty … these are just a few adjectives that are thrown around the media. Maybe you’ve seen or heard a few of these delightful monikers?
It’s fair to say the world hated millennials … that is until they became a $3.3 trillion industry and businesses globally started to sit up and pay attention.
If you run a business, whether you’re in the product or service industry, lifestyle, tourism, construction or something completely different – it’s no longer a question of if you should start marketing to millennials, but when.
What makes millennials such an important segment?
You only need to follow the numbers to realise millennials matter.
As at 2020, they’ll make up 50% of the workforce and by 2025 statisticians put the generation at 75% of the world’s workforce (Source: Inc).
And dear readers, this is the reason you need to make marketing to millennials a priority. They’re not just a target audience, they are soon to be your ONLY target audience.
Considering this generation will live longer (if current age projections are to go by) and they’ll work longer (at least, if the bar to accessing superannuation and pensions keeps moving higher), it makes sense this group will be a key purchaser for more years than any other generation that’s gone before them.
I put it to you, if your business is in the business of making money (whose isn’t, right?) you’re now officially in the business of marketing to millennials.
So, stop mocking their avocado toast and the fact they live at home for longer, here’s what you need to know.
What makes millennials so special?
Millennials might be the butt of media jokes for wanting to be ‘special’, but the truth is, they are.
This is a generation that’s more educated than any other, with university enrolments and graduates rising year on year in Australia – with just shy of a quarter having completed a Bachelor’s degree or higher (source: ABS).
They’re also driven (not lazy, thank you very much) with 87% taking on managerial positions in the past five years (source: Hubspot).
They’re used to getting things on demand – and when they don’t like the status quo, they disrupt it with technology and solutions that are far more effective than any that have gone before.
Now these are qualities we should be celebrating, don’t you think?
Millennials are diverse and their diversity makes them like catching smoke
When marketers talk about target markets, we’re told to get razor sharp – but this is tricky with millennials who share a 17-year age gap.
It’s not just nearly two decades of difference, it’s a deep chasm of technology evolution that distances their eldest constituents (born in 1980) and youngest (who joined us earth side in 1994).
As a generation, they have members who grew up with a mobile phone in their hand and others who learnt how to send messages when keyboards had text on nine keys.
For the oldest members of this generation, going to the movies with friends was something that needed the session times printed in the newspapers and for the youngest, the choice at the flick of a Netflix switch.
You’re starting to get the picture – no two millennials are the same. And before we start dismissing this group as a generation who lives at home with the parents, only to leave it when there’s a Pokémon to be caught, let me just remind you 25% of all millennials are parents themselves (Source: Adobo).
So, if millennials are the most important target market but are so damn hard to talk to, how do you go about marketing to millennials?
Over the past two years, we’ve made it our absolute passion to study this group and to learn from them.
What we’ve observed, which is confirmed by social scientists, is that millennials are all motivated by three things:
With these motivating factors top of mind, we’ve broken this down further and compiled our biggest learnings into seven steps we’d recommend integrating into your marketing plans if you want to successfully market to millennials.
Step 1: Stand for something
If this blog post was a meme (and if you’re marketing to millennials, it pays to think like one) it would read: ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’.
Millennials stand for something and they expect you to as well.
If you really want to connect with this generation, you need to think about your business differently. You’re no longer in the business of selling a product or service, you’re now in the business of selling your purpose.
This isn’t just nice fluffy stuff, your service to others will drive sales. In fact, according to Millennial Marketing, 50% of all millennials are more likely to make a purchase from a company if they think the purchase supports a cause.
What’s more, 37% of millennials are willing to buy more from a brand that actively supports a cause (Source: Medium).
If you’re looking for inspiration, check out local brand Outland Denim who wear their purpose (and their denim) on their sleeve.
Tip 2: Advertise differently
When it comes to marketing to millennials, a group who’ve been overrun with advertising their whole lives, it’s time to put down your AdWords and create social proof instead.
Don’t just take our word for it, according to Hubspot, 84% of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. Now, that’s a majority, too great to ignore.
Creating social proof is relatively easy – you just need to get other people to do the talking for you. We wrote a whole post about mastering your online reputation which will get you started.
While most businesses we work with are fairly good at getting testimonials, most are terrible at doing anything with them once they’ve been written.
Millennials more than any other generation lean on testimonials for their decision-making. In fact, all disruptors like Uber, Airbnb and Airtasker all lead with two-way testimonials and reviews – they are that important to doing business in the modern world.
Tip 3: Get social & stay social
It might be obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many people are still placing print ads to capture ‘young families’ attention.
If 25% of millennials have children, they are the definition of this audience segment and Nielsen Data shows this group spends more time on social media than any other demographic. So, if you’re making TVCs and print advertising, make sure you’re using social media to support them.
Invest in making your product and experience Insta-worthy from all angles and take your product to the social media market your customers like to shop at. [Eds note: we are not advocating you replace good product and service for flower walls because your business will soon be out of business if that’s your operational strategy too].
Social media is so important for millennials, in fact, 34% of them use it to influence their purchasing decisions (Source: B&T).
If you’ve read this post about six common marketing mistakes you’re probably making, chances are you will have avoided the cardinal sin of social media – posting and then walking away.
When it comes to marketing to millennials, 62% say they are more likely to be a customer if a brand interacts with them on social. So, with this generation, you quite literally have to talk-the-talk.
Tip 4: Communicate instantaneously
When you’re talking to a generation who is used to everything on demand, it makes sense when millennials want it, they want it now.
This is a group who doesn’t wait for a session time to see a movie – they watch it on demand. They don’t wait or walk for a cab … they get an Uber from their door and they don’t even date IRL … everything is done with a swipe left or right.
We get time poor business owners can’t be all places at once, so automate as much as you can to ensure millennials are getting their answers as quickly as possible.
On social media you can set up a Facebook chatbot with the flick of a setting-switch and Instagram can automate DM’s too based on keywords. You’ll find these step-by-step instructions in our social media handbook, over here.
Whether you’re automating responses or not, on social it’s important to dedicate one person to respond to queries so nothing is missed.
Tip 5: You do you
While I’d love to play a drinking game in meetings where we take a shot every time the word ‘authentic’ is bandied around, it is a buzz word in the industry for a reason.
When it comes to talking to this group transparency is key – millennials will know when they are being sold to.
Cut through the noise by being yourself. And if you don’t have anything to say – just remember that silence often has the loudest sound.
And remember, if you’ve made mistakes (and don’t pretend no business hasn’t), own them.
You’ll find that when you apologise for poor actions, decisions or practices of the past, you build up trust capital with your audience and they find you more human, credible and relatable.
If you’ve read this post, you’ll know that trust is the key deciding factor in whether or not a customer will convert to a transaction.
Be humble, true to yourself and most importantly, own your mistakes.
Tip 6: Appeal to FOMO
You only need to talk to a millennial home alone on a Saturday night to find out the fear of missing out is very real.
Tap into a millennial’s desire for being involved – making it so enviable to be a part of that they have no choice but to accept.
A simple way of doing this is to build anticipation for a new product launch or something being unveiled.
We work with lots of brands who are great at coming up with launch plans, but to date, no one’s ever asked us to come in for the sneak peek planning.
The pre-launch I would argue for this demographic is even more important than the real deal to build anticipation and hype and plant the seeds of FOMO-doubt.
Tip 7: Do more of what you’re currently doing
If you’ve stayed with us for this long, we’ve left the best point ‘til last – keep reading, keep learning and keep talking to millennials.
The best way to market to millennials is to spend more time with them.
Considering very few millennials sit in CMO roles (or chief decision maker positions), it’s important for brands to create internal millennial masterminds. Give them buy-in, ask them how they want to be spoken to, create campaigns collaboratively.
Anyone who has ever hired a millennial will know all about their ambition. What better way to give them opportunities to grow in the organisation than set them a challenge or a task so they can rise to the occasion?
If you want to ‘make an impact’ – create a millennial mastermind or taskforce and give them the sole goal of making one with a marketing campaign that targets millennials. Inception is a beautiful thing!
Give it a go and let us know below how it worked out for you in the comments below.
By Hannah Statham
Hannah Statham is The Boss at Media Mortar. She’s a heavy weight wordsmith, punching with puns, analogies and metaphors that leave readers wanting more. When she’s not refreshing her Instagram feed, you’ll find Hannah walking her rescue greyhound Olivia.