It’s safe to agree the term “millennial” is overused and can represent a huge range of ages, behaviors or attitudes. The word is omnipresent because they are: With 93 million millennials in the U.S., millennials are the largest generation to come along. That’s even bigger than the Baby Boomers at 77 million strong. That’s why we are constantly hearing about how to hire millennials, how to motivate them and, of course, how to sell to them.
So, yes, this is another article about selling to millennials. In 2016 alone, millennial buying power is estimated at $600 billion. That will only continue to surge as their incomes increase and they reach their peak spending years. Here, we look at four things CPG brands should keep in mind in their shopper marketing and consumer promotion plans targeting this vast, sophisticated group of consumers.
1. Times – and behaviors – are changing
Marketers, especially those who are not millennials themselves, should be sure to always keep in mind how times have changed and what that means in terms of consumer behavior. For instance, the median marriage age is now 30, compared to 23 back in the 1970s. How does that change the purchase behavior for young men and women? Messaging needs to be tailored to the millennial – and subsets within the broader definition – and speak to their interests and needs. Look beyond demographics and pay attention to behavior.
2. Play by their rules
Millennials research purchases online. A lot. Smart marketers will meet them online during this research phase. Successful marketers will be there not just with ads, but with entertaining, useful and rewarding content. Communicate how your product will benefit them, sure. But how can your content benefit them right now, while they’re reading, watching, engaging, scrolling and sharing? Develop a strategy to earn their trust, dollars and endorsement.
3. Tap into the power of constant conversation
Millennials spend all day talking to their most trusted confidantes: each other. Brands that tap into these conversations unlock a powerful army. Make it easy for consumers to photograph, talk about and share your product. Find influencers, or micro-influencers, to try your product and share their experience in a genuine way. You can’t take over the conversation. But finding ways into it can turn conversations into sales conversions.
4. Win them over and be rewarded
Millennials are used to a curated experience. Think about Spotify Discover Weekly or Netflix’s recommendations. A recent study by the Harris Poll found that 74% of millennials would be open to receiving messages during their shopping trip. Eighty-one percent were open to being in touch via email or text after shopping. So, if you successfully turn a millennial into a fan of your brand, and you continue to serve engaging content, they will want to keep hearing from you. And, ideally, consistently use some of their $600 billion to buy your product.
Editor's note: This article originally appeared on Oct. 31, 2016, in Marketing:CPG.