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Marketing to Millennials: How to Reach and Engage a Generation

Marketing to Millennials: How to Reach and Engage a Generation

Home Blog Digital Marketing Marketing to Millennials: How to Reach and Engage a Generation

You have probably heard enough about millennials already. The generation of people born between the 1980s and the 2000s has been a focal point of executives and marketing strategies for the past couple of years.
Millennials are the first generation who’ve actually experienced the rise of the modern digital age. But, have you ever wondered why we’re so obsessed with them of late? Here are a few interesting statistics that’ll answer your question.

  • There are more than 83.1 million of them in the US alone, representing over 25% of the population.
  • Their annual spending power is roughly over $600 billion.
  • By 2020, they are likely to reach $1.4 trillion in purchasing power and will account for 30% of all retail sales.
what millennials spend money on

Essentially, they’re the ones having massive spending power and they don’t mind spending freely. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, as a brand, reaching millennials should be your number one priority right now.
Image via Charles Schwab

Why Winning Over Millennials Isn’t Easy

As a brand, winning over millennials can prove to be easier said than done. Why? Because they’re a tough bunch to figure out. Even though they’re big spenders, they’re not naive. They are digitally savvy and hyper sensitive to advertising.
The good news is, you know where to find them. Social media and the internet. They’re always at an arm’s length away from connected devices.
However, because they have access to a wealth of information at all times, winning them over is more difficult. They won’t fall for your flashy ads or marketing gimmicks. In fact, you’ll drive them away even more with such tactics.
Millennials demand authenticity. Real social proof. Let’s look at a few surefire ways of reaching millennials and keeping them engaged.

How to Reach Those Millennials

1. Go where they go

US adults on Instagram

What distinguishes millennials from their predecessors, is their insatiable appetite for technology. Millennials are quick to adopt the latest gadgets and platforms, even when they’re in their early stages.
In a recent survey, it was found that Facebook is still being used by 41% of millennials every day. However, it continues to be more popular among older audiences.
Other than Facebook, though, every other social media platform such as Instagram or Snapchat are more popular among millennials. This is especially true since the Trump political campaign and the recent Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal. More users are migrating from politically charged Facebook feeds to the aspirational, image friendly confines of Instagram.
So if you wish to be seen and heard by millennials, you need to go where they go. This includes keeping an eye out for new features on social platforms.
Instagram in particular really popular among millennials. In a study, it was found that 64% of all adult Instagram users belong to the age group of 18-29 years. And, more than half of US millennials are active now on Instagram. So if you’re not leveraging Instagram for marketing, you’re definitely losing out on opportunities to engage millennial audiences.
Image via Statista
Instagram Stories are a rage right now. More than 300 million people are using Instagram Stories every day. If you still haven’t been leveraging them for your marketing, you’re missing out on some serious opportunities.
pasted image 0 16Image via Instagram
Instagram Stories include a whole bunch of interesting features including geolocation, hashtags, and can even direct traffic to websites. What’s more? You can even run carousel ads using Stories to attract your audiences.
Tip: Leverage social media in a big way if you want to reach and engage with millennial audiences effectively. Work with relevant social media influencers to get your brand in front of millennial audiences through an authentic voice (not a “brand” account). And don’t let organic reach restrict you from achieving your goals.
Leverage the compelling content your influencers are creating and amplify it through their voice and account to reach a massive and targeted audience. Leverage platforms like Lumanu to amplify your influencers’ reach and get better reach, engagement and conversions.

2. Give them social proof

Millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. They are turning a blind eye and deaf ears towards traditional advertisements like billboards, television, or online ads.
Whenever they’re looking for product recommendations, they’re more dependent on sources they can trust. This includes recommendations from their family, friends, or discovering things through social proof. This can be in the form of recommendations or reviews by people who have used these products.
A recent study found that product feedback and reviews have a great impact on the shopping behavior of millennials. 60% of millennials are impacted by product reviews. Another survey by Collective Bias found that 70% of millennials prefer endorsements by their peers than celebrities.
So if you’re serious about gaining the loyalty of millennial audiences, leverage the power of social media influencers. Why? Because recommendations from influencers are known to increase purchase intent significantly.
US Bank partnered with popular Instagrammers for a unique campaign focused on winning over millennial audiences. They named it the #ISaveSoICan campaign and featured a series of breathtaking images. The idea was to demonstrate what people can achieve when they have financial security.
As you can see from the example above, the content is insightful and valuable. US Bank’s strategy was tailor-made for winning over millennials who attach a lot of importance to saving for the future. No wonder why the campaign generated incredible engagement.

3. Get creative and provide value

How millennials prefer to receive coupons

Millennials demand authentic content. Content that delivers value. To win them over, you need to provide something valuable for their time, attention, and loyalty. They’re more likely to trust your brand if you show a genuine interest in helping them.
Millennials appreciate something that’s real (not staged) and interesting. Most millennials use ad-blockers to disable ads on the internet. However, they are not averse to sponsored content on blogs, YouTube, and other platforms as long as they’re insightful and don’t overtly feel like a marketing ploy.

Contrary to popular belief, millennials can be extremely loyal customers. But only if you treat them right. You need to give them a reason to connect with your brand.
A survey by Accenture found that 95% of millennials would like brands to make them feel valued. Loyalty programs or discount coupons can do wonders to your relationships with them. You can send coupons via email, ship them to their homes, or even via text messages. Emails are the most preferred form of communication when it comes to coupons.

Tip: Provide incentives such as discounts or loyalty programs if you wish to boost loyalty among millennial customers.

4. Provide a seamless customer experience

A popular myth about millennial consumers that brands believe is that they only shop online. Don’t get me wrong. Millennials are definitely tech and web-savvy. However, they still like to frequent traditional brick-and-mortar stores.
A survey found that 61% of millennial consumers have purchased five or fewer products from a mall in 2017. And another survey found that 53% of them mostly buy products offline. However, they’ll definitely browse online and check product feedback and reviews before buying.
What does all of this mean for brands? Online channels are certainly important because they provide them valuable insights and information. In fact, the more information you can provide them, the better. Most of them would be spending hours online studying reviews and ratings of products.
However, something that greatly puts them off, is a discrepancy in prices between online and offline ones. Millennials are keen to make the best use of discount coupons and other such incentives. So if you can make such coupons redeemable at stores too, you’ve won half your battle.
However, if you’re asking them to print those coupons, please don’t. Millennials detest having to do that. Essentially, they look for a seamless experience that allows for coupon scanning on mobiles.
A study by Accenture found that the absence of a seamless experience can turn out to be a deal breaker. And 68% of millennial shoppers want a seamless and integrated shopping experience. Regardless of whether they buy offline or online, from mobiles or desktops.
Tip: Provide a shopping experience which allows millennial consumers to move across channels (stores, mobile, desktop) effortlessly.

5. Humanize your brand – sell your story, not products

Boxed water for millennials
Popup for Boxed Water
TOMS one for one cause marketing

Most millennials treat their interactions with brands on social media as transactional. If they’re engaging with your content, it’s extremely likely that they’re doing so to learn about promotional offers.
Sure, they’ll receive your messages well if you’re offering deals or coupons. However, if you want them to really connect with your brand on a deeper level, you need to move them emotionally. In the Accenture survey, respondents have reported that they need an emotional connection in order to truly like a brand.
So, as a brand, your goal should be to create a buzz about your brand that resonates with millennials. A great way of doing this is by selling the story about your brand or your values. Not simply your products. You need to become a part of their conversations but only for the right reasons.
A company that has nailed this marketing strategy and has been winning the hearts of millennials is Boxed Water. Their story in itself is something that resonates with millennials. Going eco-friendly and helping the environment by packaging water in cartons instead of plastic bottles.
 Image via Boxed Water
For example, Boxed Water encourages people to promote them on Instagram or subscribe to their website with a unique proposition. They offer to plant two trees for every person who posts or signs up. And of course, they sweeten the deal further by sending them promotional deals, and more.
Image via Boxed Water
Now, you may be thinking that most brands might not have such a story to tell. Does that mean they cannot appeal to millennials? They sure can. If they can find a way to showcase a certain belief that resonates with their target audiences in their messaging. Or align themselves with a social cause.
Millennials are essentially do-gooders. They want to associate themselves with brands that are socially responsible and believe in doing good. And so, cause marketing is likely to work wonders on this group of people.
A great example of a company that has been winning the hearts of millennial audiences is fashion brand TOMS. Their One for One campaign has been a huge success ever since its launch. The idea is quite simple. For every product you purchase from them, they’ll help someone in need.
Image via TOMS
Tip: If you can find a way to communicate your shared values with your millennial audiences, you can win their hearts.

6. Focus on video content

Millennials are digital natives

Videos are undoubtedly of the best mediums for marketing. Because they’re capable of communicating stories and emotions, people find them more relatable. Communicating your marketing messages over videos ensures that your message is better received and retained.
A survey conducted by Magisto found that 88% of millennial marketers have included videos in their marketing strategy. Or are planning to do so. In fact, 45% of them have dedicated over one-quarter of their digital marketing budgets to videos.
Image via Magisto
With the introduction of Facebook Live, Instagram Stories, and other such features, videos can be easily incorporated into your content. In fact, it was found that live videos on Facebook are watched 3X more than pre-recorded ones.
So if you thought millennials are a lazy bunch, you got that right. They are. They won’t be interested in reading about you when they can watch it online. And because they love to know your stories, videos are your best platform to showcase them. Whether it’s an exclusive preview of your product launches, or a behind-the-scenes look, or product unboxing – they want to see it all.
Watchmaker Daniel Wellington is renowned for their social media marketing that resonates really well with millennials. To promote their “Classics” collection, they’ve collaborated with popular influencers for a video campaign on Instagram.
In these videos, influencers have shared some of the classic things they enjoy – their passions, places, or people.
Model and influencer Neels Visser can be seen showcasing his love for skateboarding in one of these videos:
Tip: If you haven’t already, go big on videos if you want to win over millennial audiences. The best part about videos is social platforms give preference to engaging video content (in both news feeds and stories).
You are also able to remarket against audiences that view specific videos (which is not possible with static posts). This is a huge opportunity to increase your remarketing pool amplifying by putting paid media behind your 1st party or 3rd party influencer content then remarketing with brand reminders.

Final thoughts

Millennials are a key demographic because they have a good deal of financial stability and purchasing power. However, if you’re thinking about gaining their loyalty, you need to understand them as individuals. Get to know them – what they like, what they hate, and fine-tune your marketing and your interactions with them accordingly.
They’re not difficult people. They’re simply well-informed and make their decisions wisely. So don’t try to trick them. Instead, show them that you care by providing what really matters to them.
Can you think of any other ways of winning over millennial audiences? Let me know in the comments below.

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Gaurav Sharma

Gourav Sharma is a Digital Marketing Strategist at Arka Softwares, a leading Web development company in USA. He has 4 years of experience in the Information Technology industry. He spends his time reading about new trends in Digital Marketing and the latest app development technologies.

Digital Marketing Strategist @Arka Softwares