Marketing to Millennials: Understanding Who They Are and How To Win Them Over

Mackenzie Maher
By Mackenzie Maher

Millennials, recently deemed “the most lucrative market” in the U.S today, make up 25% of the population and over $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. Born between 1977 and 1995 millennials have such a huge influence on the market that companies are stepping up and putting forth the effort to reach this crucial generation. Unlike previous generations, in order to gain a millennial’s trust, brands must first build a connection with them.

While traditional advertising techniques proved effective in the past, they’re not as powerful when applied to millennials. In today’s market, ads can be spotted from a mile away, and curating authentic and influential content is more important now than ever.

Don’t let this change scare you, though. While this new “millennial marketing style” may sound like a huge transition, it doesn’t mean you have to scrap all your previous efforts. These 8 tactics for marketing to a millennial will help you turn some of the content you already have into millennial perfection, and aid in the creation of new and accurately targeted content.

Optimizing For Social

Millennials are social media junkies and optimizing your content for social is a crucial step in reaching them. Not only do they turn to social media to find out what others are doing, but they use it to find answers, inspo, tutorials, and more. When it comes to social media marketing, your goal is to be the first thing they see when they sign on, the first answer to their question, and their first bit of daily inspo.

Related: 7 Most Common Mistakes Brands Make on Social Media

With upwards of 55% of millennials using strictly mobile devices to access their social media channels the digital landscape is undoubtedly the most effective way to reach this demographic. Growing up in a technology driven world, millennials have learned to absorb social media extremely fast. This means that in order for your content to be effective it must be enticing enough to make an impression within a matter of a 6-second scroll. When optimizing for social media it’s important to think about how your brand is represented across all platforms and to make sure each piece of content is created with the desired platform in mind.

Authenticity

It’s no secret that millennials hate traditional ads and they can easily spot any marketing tactics that might come across as inauthentic. That’s not to say that they can’t be marketed to; it just means they need to be approached differently. Over almost anything else, millennials value authenticity. When a brand provides them with value upfront and doesn’t ask much in return, they’re much more willing to take the next desired step – whether that be signing up for an email list, or purchasing a product.

Think of marketing to millennials as a relationship – you spark their interest, hang out with them a couple times, and then ask them on a date. It’s real and it’s coming from a place of sincerity. Not only will this style of marketing help guide millennials through the funnel, but it will also nurture a long lasting relationship between them and the brand. A relationship in which they’ll be loyal and more opt to purchase from again.

Discounts And Frugality

If there’s anything we know about millennials it’s that they stand up for what they believe in. While a millennial is not likely to set aside their values for a cheaper brand, they do seek out deals whenever they can. They are frugal by nature and would much rather spend their money on an experience like traveling rather than an actual product.

Because of this, they search for coupons and discounts in every way possible. In fact, 64% percent of millennials follow a company or brand on Facebook for the sole purpose of receiving a price break. Instagram and Snapchat are also platforms in which millennials turn to for discounts and are even likely to publicly share their location if it means they’ll receive a coupon.

Related: 20 Best Incentives for Your E-Commerce Site

Growing up in a fragile economy, millennials are determined to do as much as they can with the least amount of money possible. This being said, incorporating promotional offers, exclusive events and product discounts into your brand’s social media strategy are all great ways to win their loyalty.

Inbound Marketing Is In

Millennials are much more likely to support a brand that want’s to develop a relationship with them as opposed to viewing them as the means to a one-time purchase. They appreciate upfront value and a company who cares about them, whether they buy or not. Since millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts, using inbound marketing and curating personalized content, social media accounts, and SEO is a great way to demonstrate your expertise and set yourself apart from others in the market.

Because millennials trust experts they’re often more likely to buy a product from a company like Bob’s Red Mill. Bob’s Red Mill not only provides consumers with high quality products but also offers an array of information across all their social media channels such as recipes, nutrition tips, and even holiday decor ideas.

Instant Response & Customer Service

Growing up in the age of the internet, millennials have grown accustomed to urgency, and any question they have is just a simple search away. While enticing ads and valuable content is necessary for a good marketing strategy, customer service is also a crucial stage of the consumer’s journey. Millennials want to know that there is an actual face behind a company – someone who cares about them and their needs.

Luckily, social media has made it easier for consumers to connect with brands. In fact, 64 percent of millennials believe that social media is one of the most effective ways to reach a brand. Constant regulation of these platforms, and responding in a timely manner is sure to keep your customers happy and loyal.

Sell A Purpose, A Cause, A Lifestyle, Not A Product

No matter how strong the features and benefits of a product are, oftentimes these aren’t strong enough selling points when it comes to our millennial audiences. They don’t want to just scratch the surface of a brand; they love digging deeper to figure out the who, what, and most importantly, why of the brand.

Giving back and impacting the world is one of the most treasured values of this generation and if they are able to do that while also purchasing something for themselves then millennials are totally on board. When marketing your brand to this dynamic group, be sure to lead with your company’s purpose and show that your values align with theirs. Providing a meaningful and great experience that will apply to this generation much more than a stand alone product.

Influencers

Millennials care a lot about what people think; more than any other generation, they look to others to help them with their buying decisions. In fact, 32 of the 60  percent of millennials that are influenced by social advertising believe that it’s more credible than other forms of advertising when influencing their decisions. If you want your product recognized, acknowledged, admired, and purchased by a millennial, make sure it gets into the hands of the people of power: social media influencers. There are the ones who can influence the purchase.

Related: Why Influencer Marketing is an Invaluable Tool for Emerging Brands

When marketing to millennials it’s important to seek out influencers who are making waves in your area of expertise. Unlike an ad, an influencer-promoted product feels much more authentic and less biased. Consumers view influencers as friends, and when your friend recommends something you buy it. Most influencers also have a reputation to uphold, in which they make a point to only partner with brands who represent their ideals and values. Aside from getting your brand in front of thousands of people, partnerships with influencers also allow you to target a specific market and customer persona.

Reviews Are King

With over 70 percent of consumers  reading reviews online before buying, they are a crucial step in the buying process. Much in the same way that millennials trust influencers, they also trust their peers. Because of this, they are much more inclined to try a product that has been recommended to them, rather than one they simply saw in an ad. With sites like Amazon, who offer hundreds of reviews at the click of a button, millennials are more likely to investigate what others are saying and compare one product to another before purchasing.

The great thing about the millennial generation is that they are not afraid to speak their mind. They rely on reading reviews just as much as they feel compelled to write them. Having clear conversation through multiple forms of communication is crucial to preserving brand integrity. While a good review can be used to talk up your product, a bad review can also give you the opportunity to turn an unsatisfied customer into a raving fan. Social listening and proper communication is paramount to dealing with negative comments, and when done right it can turn a 1-star review into a 5-star one!

Wrapping Up

While millennials may be different from demographics in the past, their unique investment in brands and social platforms has brought about new marketing tactics that spark conversation and ultimately bring the consumer closer to the brand. Millennials inherent need to connect with a brand has transformed the ad world, forcing companies to focus more on selling an experience rather than a product, and thus driving longer lasting consumer relationships and loyalty.

 

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As a Social Media Account Manager, Mackenzie works to develop dynamic strategies and creative content that will help clients grow their organic social presence. With a strong background in writing and marketing, and an eye for design, her role at PDM allows her to flex her strongest muscles and indulge her outside-the-box thinking. Equally happy when creating a witty caption as she is mocking up a new visual concept, the San Diego local and UC Santa Barbara graduate treats every day as a new opportunity to achieve marketing greatness.