Branding that Attracts Millennials

By Devin Morrissey

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Millennials, also known as Generation Y, typically encompass the generation of folks born during the 1980s through the mid-1990s. Perhaps the best descriptor of them is that they are the first generation to grow up in a world where modern technology and communications were commonplace. Many in this generation remember a world without easily accessible internet or smartphones, but they are fully capable of successfully navigating these communications systems with ease.

Because of this change in communication and networking, millennials naturally have a different way of doing things than previous generations. This is especially true when it comes to their opinions on branding and marketing strategies. The same traditional outreach that worked on their parents’ and grandparents’ generations simply doesn’t have the same impact on millennials.

For better or worse, this has forced many marketing companies to completely rethink how they are reaching potential consumers or face the threat of sinking into oblivion. This is particularly important since the millennial generation is also becoming the biggest powerhouse in terms of sheer purchasing power — a power that continues to grow with each passing year. Finding means of attracting millennials to your brand and building brand loyalty is a challenge, but a worthwhile one.

Marketing Matters

Perhaps the single most important thing to remember when attempting to attract millennials is that where and how you are marketing really matters. Traditional TV commercial marketing schemes don’t work as well with millennials as they did with previous generations. This is largely because upwards of 54 percent of millennials prefer to shop online. Of those, roughly 38 percent are making purchases on their smartphones.

Millennials also tend to expect more from their marketing experiences. They want companies to communicate and win their loyalty personally, not try to capture them in some blanket ad that appears across the country. They want to feel like the company they purchase from is aligned with their goals and is trying to make it easy for them to make the purchases they want to make.

This means diversity in marketing campaigns is critical. Tailored messages are not limited to differences in race or gender either but rather can vary based on things such as socio-economic background, age, community culture, and values. Over 90 percent of marketers agreed there was room for improvement in diversifying marketing images, especially with the availability of big data.

Social Networking Matters

Because so many millennials are shopping and making purchase decisions online, it is imperative to take the impact of social networking into account when developing a marketing strategy. One study found that the average millennial has approximately 7 devices that are capable of accessing a social network, the internet, or television. Often times they are connecting multiple times per day — each time a potential consumer connection for marketers.

While using social networking sites as a prime marketing platform is an important aspect to reaching millennials, it is also valuable to remember the many other “consumer interaction factors” that come into play with utilizing these sites. First and foremost is the ability of a consumer to more easily and publicly communicate directly with your company. Depending on the company response, these communications can go really well or really, really poorly.

Millennials reaching out directly to companies with questions, comments, or concerns has become more and more mainstream and is keeping many companies on their toes. Furthermore, many millennials communicate their positive or negative experiences with a company across their entire social network. And these opinions matter: one study found millennials are less likely to purchase from a company that an acquaintance has spoken poorly of on social media.

Social Impact Matters

One thing that millennials seem to be speaking out about more than previous generations is the social impact of the companies they buy their products from. Namely, millennials expect a certain level of social integrity from the companies they are choosing to spend their dollars with. An estimated 90 percent of consumers actively purchase from companies that are associated with a good cause.

Often times, millennials are more willing to spend their dollars on companies that are aligned with well-coordinated non-profits. Particularly those that have a clear, understandable mission and work to build relationships and motivation within their communities. This is driving a substantial movement among major businesses to showcase the positive things they do within their communities and for the environment.

Employee Treatment Matters

Finally, a powerful way to be certain to entice millennials into becoming and remaining loyal to your brand is to actually work to hire millennials and create a workspace that they want to stay in. Creating the environment that millennials want to work in can be a substantial challenge involving an overhaul of company culture. But it is a worthwhile endeavor.   

First, millennial marketers are tech savvy and more likely to be capable of easily navigating the social system and structures required to reach out successfully to other millennials. Millennials are also likely to bring a higher level of creativity to a workplace and a collaborative attitude. In return, they expect a mentor, a fair work-life balance, and flexibility with scheduling.  

Second, millennials who love their jobs will talk about it with their friends and on their social networks. As previously mentioned, opinions of your company on social media matter and building a reputation of providing a positive work environment also serves as a means of attracting social impact-minded millennials to your company. Building a social media marketing campaign that millennials can be excited to share is a strong first step.

Attracting millennials to your company and building brand loyalty with them can be a challenge, but given the growing purchase power of the generation, it is a worthy investment. It is important to remember that millennials do things differently than previous generations, and the traditional marketing strategies will not yield the same results with them. Remember that diverse, online marketing strategies are critical.

Account for the impacts of social media and other social networking can have on the company. Especially keep this in mind when it comes to the social impact of the company, as this is an important factor for many millennials. Finally, provide a workplace for millennials that are proud to work at and the benefits will be resounding. These are all factors that are critical to your continued success.

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