It’s no secret that the digital natives of the millennial generation (people born from the ’80s to mid-90s) are vastly influential when it comes to how certain brands display themselves in today’s markets.
Among the misconceptions and wishful overstatements of their character, millennials represent approximately 80 million people in their prime consumer years. This means they comprise nearly 21% of consumer discretionary purchases – an estimated $1 trillion in direct buying power.
As a generation focused on authenticity, value, and transparency – all things which many brands strive for – there are a few techniques marketers focused on millennials are using to their advantage… and similarly their public demise.
So, what is a millennial?
Many people in Gen Y have heard the same rhetoric on repeat from older generations, something to the effect of “you’re entitled, disconnected by your social networking, and bound to rent apartments for the rest of your hedonically-trendy existence, you starry-eyed artisanal-coffee drinking yuppie!”
Maybe I embellished a bit there, but you get the point!
With such a significant share of the future workforce (75% by 2025) it’s clear why everyone is scrambling to get Gen Y on their side. The millennial generation has a number of differentiating factors that make them one of the most elusive, yet reliable consumers once marketers have found a way to capture their attention.
What do millennials want?
Despite being a generation born and raised on all things digital, a majority of millennials have reacted by choosing brands that 1) entertain them 2) allow the co-creation of content, and 3) respond or interact with them via social media.
That being said, 70% of millennials feel a responsibility to share their feedback on good and bad company experiences – something that can have a profound effect on one’s brand, almost irreparably at times!
Gen Y’s social media-savvy can often create PR disasters with no recovery in sight… just like #AskSeaWorld #McDStories or even #MyNYPD, all of which had been hijacked and used to expose more horror stories and social commentary than valuable brand exposure.
This hints at the fact that nearly 50% of millennials prefer to make purchases that support transparent causes, with 37% admitting they would pay more just to further a purposeful brand.
These characteristics leave marketers with a few distinct talking points to start with:
- Be honest with your content or products.
Believe me, millennials will absolutely do their research instead of blindly hurling cash at your product or service. Most reported they already view advertisements as all-spin and no authenticity, so it’s hard to hide your hot-dog of a brand as anything more than pink slime in the eyes of Generation Y. Remember, “no comment” is often no better than a lie when it comes to a PR crisis.
- Take time to read and respond to your reviews.
Not only are your reviews valuable reservoirs of market research, but they’re also an avenue to securing customers and improving your brand’s overall image. More times than not, millennials value written reviews via blogs, comment sections, or forums just as much (if not more) than word of mouth recommendations.
Social media’s pull is perhaps one of the most key ingredients to staying vital, and all it takes is the right viral post or authentic gesture to supplant your brand in today’s digital collective-consciousness. Take these for example.
- Don’t try too hard…
Yes, the memes culture is vastly entertaining – but that doesn’t make it your fast-pass to the minds of millennials. In fact, it’s more likely that you’ll shatter whatever chance you had with Generation Y in one, not-so-dank image or video.
On the rare occasion that your meme actually works, don’t expect an evergreen campaign. These images have an intentionally short life span, so you’ll probably be back on Reddit before you can even cash the check.
Despite an undying pessimism (and legitimate economic factors), the millennial generation continues to sway the way many brands are interacting with their publics through any number of strategies. We can make a case for why the future workforce won’t ever live up to the Babyboomers or Generation X, while in the same breath trying to crack the code to their hearts.