We’ve all read the headlines, that Millennials are the hardest generation to reach due to their multi-tasking, multi-screen, “always on” mentalities. With this group’s tendency to overload their senses and ability to edit their lives in real time, Millennials are savvy to the ways of traditional advertising. This makes it hard to figure out how to engage them and even more difficult to begin the conversation. When it comes to the Millennial attitude towards marketing, they don’t want to be told what to do, what to like, or what to buy and will quickly tune out any message that is clearly meant to sell. With all the information available to them today, they want to believe that they have organically discovered the things that they buy or associate with.
We pay close attention to this audience’s desire to discover. For this group, being the first to discover a product or brand means garnering greater social currency with their peers. They become the savvy trendsetter in their social circles. Every brand they associate themselves with and every post they share further builds out their self-identity. And because of their highly connected social and digital lives, their ability to discover and share with peers strengthens their connection to like-minded individuals.
So how do you get Millennials to discover your product or brand and make it their own? Based on our research into this audience and work with brands in the alcoholic beverage, travel, and CPG spaces, here are some things to consider when you develop your next marketing initiative geared toward this generation.
Give Them a History Lesson
Millennials grew up with continued support from their parents; they have watched their grandparents move back home (most likely next door), and take pride in their family backgrounds. This respect for tradition and increased curiosity concerning their own personal heritage plays a role in their connection with brands. From “locavore” movements in food to revivals of nostalgic brands such as Converse, Millennials want to feel a personal connection with the brands that take part in their lives. This is not to say that a brand needs to be “vintage” or have a “cause” specifically, but that a brand’s story should be well thought out and interesting or Millennials won’t give it more than a passing glance. When VeeV, a new player in the premium spirits market, decided to go after Millennials, they ensured that everything about the brand connected to a larger story. Their product gives money back to support rain forests (where some ingredients originate), they take steps to reduce their company’s footprint -- but even more, they provide their consumers with details about the ingredients in their product, how it benefits them, and even provide them with bracelets that are made from the açía berry’s seeds, a nice added reminder of the brand for Millennials.
Deliver an Experience
Millennials value authenticity from brands, but being authentic goes well beyond what you say. Millennials pay attention to and care about what brands actually do. They are more likely to invest in experiences than material things and use the stories from all of their unique experiences to gain lead to move up within their peer groups. Whether it is a cause such as “I’m With Coco” which resurrected Conan O’Brien after being sacked by NBC or Red Bull’s variety of brand experiences like the Cliff Diving World Series Event, Felix’s Jump from Space and Flutag, brands that make Millennials part of the experience by surrounding them in emotional, educational or entertaining ways provide the most fodder for conversation.
Think Beyond Facebook/Be Relevant Across Platforms
We know that Millennials are well connected throughout social media and that friends’ recommendations are very influential to them. Yet, the ability to drive mass pass-along has become harder because Millennials have become savvy with the way they choose to connect and what they choose to post, or re-post, and where. To them, different types of content should live on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Flipboard, or Instagram. One creative use of a niche social site was Philadelphia Tourism, which utilized Foodspotting to create guides to local restaurants and award followers who visited particular locations. To really connect with this group, the key is to focus on having the right forms of compelling content across a variety of channels.
Engage Them in the Moment
Millennials move from one medium to another at rapid speeds and often simultaneously. Consider a call-to-action that goes beyond the traditional click or you may lose them completely. Think of ways to engage them in the moment by providing results in banner, gathering their information in mobile, or placing your video in traditional banner placements. In a recent campaign for a restaurant client, we utilized interactive pre-roll units that allowed consumers to see menu offerings, watch video and enter their zip to find the closest locations all within the unit. These ads saw a high engagement rate of 9%, and 69% of those that engaged took an action. Millennials are looking for brands to engage them by providing relevant content now; they don’t want to work hard for it. Find opportunities to lead them through your KPI funnel - discover attributes, locations, variations of your brand - but without always making them visit your brand website.
Enabling a Millennial to discover your brand is much more effective than shouting the loudest. Millennials want to take the journey with the brands and products they like, ask questions, have an experience, and find information no matter where they are. This adventure-prone group has very different behaviors than previous generations, but the need for connectivity and social exchange is still very relevant even with an overwhelmingly large network of peers. Their social status is measured on the information that they share, the photos they post, the places that they’ve checked into – the stories that surround their lives are more important than the things that fill it. But, if you are a brand they discover that fits with their story and identity, they may just decide to bring you along for the ride.