Commentary

Success: How 4 Brands Are Winning With Millennials

Millennials are savvier than any generation that came before them. And, at 80 million strong, they own a collective $200 billion in annual buying power, according to Forbes.

Keeping up with current trends and making a brand more engaged on mobile is a given but what some marketers miss is the role of user experience. In order to truly capture a Millennial consumer, brands have to reach them on their terms and do it all authentically and transparently. If a brand’s outreach (whether it’s an ad campaign, mobile app or website) tries too hard, Millennials will catch on quickly.

As the first generation to be raised on the Internet, Millennials are extremely confident in their ability to navigate digital interfaces and take UX seriously. They are quick to blame usability issues on the site, often criticizing the organization or brand as a result. This makes presenting authentic, transparent, well-structured and accessible experiences key to a brand’s success.

Here are examples of brands that are doing it well:

Refinery 29: Effectively Merging Content With Advertising

With its key audience, Millennial women, Refinery29 carefully merges content with advertising so that it doesn’t feel intrusive to the readers’ experience. Their morning news app, Refinery29 This AM, is a mobile experience that can easily become part of the user’s daily routine. Refinery29 saw an opportunity to leverage an already existing readership and built this app off of their popular series, “8 Things to Know this AM.”

They conducted research that revealed an opportunity to expand their mobile content consumption so users simply skim high-level news and quickly catch up for the day. Refinery29 understood that mobile content is a priority for many Millennials but, by presenting the content in a simplified format, they offer a true user-insights led experience. Refinery29 has amassed a loyal following of over 27M+ unique visitors on its website and a total reach of 225M+ across all other platforms.

Taco Bell: Making Content King

Few brands have engaged with their audience like Taco Bell has. Long-time adopters of social media, they are especially powerful on Snapchat, where they send out unique content multiple times a week over “Stories.” The content ranges from announcing product launches/relaunches and red carpet events to fun quizzes and celebrity/influencer takeovers. Even their sponsored content wins gold: the Cinco de Mayo Snapchat lens that turned their users’ faces into tacos was viewed a record-smashing 224 million times in a single day.

Pokemon Go: The Full, Immersive Experience

What helps an app go so viral that it surpasses the number of active daily users of Tinder and Twitter in less than a month? A full experience for the user. While the technology is not new, few other apps have created a craze like Pokemon Go has. Part of the appeal can be attributed to how the app blurs what's been computer generated with a player's visual reality. This great use of augmented reality means that the user must truly immerse themselves to engage.

Instructions on how to actually succeed are not in depth so a user must practice or connect with others. Millennials crave experiences like this; if they are going to invest their time, they want something to show for it. With strangers visibly still capturing characters, Poke-mania doesn't seem to show any signs of slowing down.

Vice: Meeting Users Where They Live

What started out as a print magazine in 1994 has exploded into an online mega-giant and a standalone TV channel. Few content brands have such a distinct style and recognizable voice. Vice’s controlled and planned randomness paired with the voice used to tackle a variety of topics, including those that other outlets shy away from, have helped propel its success and capture an extremely captive audience of over 90 million people. With a majority of traffic driven by social media, Vice steers away from sounding like other news publications and uses the quick and dirty, yet scannable, approach that is only heightened by social media, meeting their users exactly where they live.

What these four brands share is an uncanny ability to know who they are and what their audience wants from them, and that is why they are winning Millennials with experience.

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