Depending on the source, Millennials are around about age 20-40, they are currently the most influential digital audience and are helping to shape how companies behave and operate in the online space.
Many Gen X types and even Millennials themselves love to gripe and moan about how difficult this beard growing, soy latte drinking, gluten-free generation is. However, like it or not they are here, they are going to be the ones that make or break our businesses, and it is time to change and make the effort please ‘them’.
Marketing to Millennials
One thing about this generation is quite clear, they really know how to prioritise themselves over everything else (The Centre for Generational Kinetics). They care about the quality of food they eat hence the growth of craft beer, gin and whiskey, along with the growth in organic foods, gluten-free, free-range and veganism. They value their appearance – we’re back to those beards again. Finally, they want a better work-life balance than previous generations, 67% of them want a flexible work environment and believe flexibility has a positive impact on productivity and improves their well-being, health and happiness (Deloitte).
Millennials are also one of the most accepting generations, they are considerate of the feelings of others, and accepting of diversity. They are open to new experiences and will encourage self-expression more than any generation before them. They are also the most open to change, this may be as a result of all the changes they have experienced in technology and economy in such a short period of time.
From a marketing perspective, though there are two very important things that matter to Millennials, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Authenticity, these have a huge impact on brand loyalty and success. These two factors also feed into their acceptance and care of themselves.
Corporate Social Responsibility Is High on The Millennials Wish List
In 2001 marketing texts mentioned this topic as a growing trend but only in passing. Now companies are having to try harder and harder to care for the planet, the people in it or both. Millennials care about companies that make an effort to go beyond a profit, they have to give back in some way or they are simpny not good enough.
75% said that it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit. They value authenticity (43%) over content itself (33%) when evaluating news sources. Even Facebook are responding to the need for authentic news with their newest algoritym.
Many very large companies, thanks to Social Media, have been outed in some way or another where their social or environmental responsibility has been lacking to the extreme (Volkswagen, Abercrombie & Fitch). This has been very damaging to big brands and some small ones too. By neglecting this area and forgetting that the eyes of the world are on you, you could run the risk of isolating your market or even being sunk by them.
How as a small company can you make an effort to appeal to the Millennial with Social Responsibility? The concern is always that this will affect your bottom line, however, it can be small changes and big rewards. Little and simple tasks such as recycling incentives, changing all your bulbs to LEDs and for restaurants being involved in helping the homeless through charities such as Street Smart. In some cases, it’s a small cost and in others, it’s a small effort, but the returns can be huge. Your customers get the opportunity to feel like they are improving the world little by little by choosing you. Millennials are the generation that were brought up with messages of recycling, feeding the less fortunate, preserving the environment, using less water and being kind to others so this can have a great effect to your business particularly if you are competing with a very similar business, this gives you a little edge. (I bought Nicky loo roll the other day abandoning all price comparisons because it supported The Jack & Jill Foundation)
Millenials Love Authenticity in Marketing
This is a Marketing term that is tossed around a lot when it comes to brands but it also has a massive impact on how you appeal to this unique generation. Authenticity is about opening up and being honest. In the digital age, companies can be exposed in a vast number of ways for promising one thing and delivering another. Marketing by nature has always been a collection of white lies along with smoke and mirrors – the nature of traditinal marketing is highlighting all the good stuff and burying all the bad stuff.
How do you go about being authentic?
There are many facets to this but let’s keep it simple. First off your CSR is an element, but being responsive to your audience and honest or accountable is vital in the world ‘light speed’ social media.
Millennials respond to businesses that are authentic; this means being honest, admitting faults, being empathetic and having purpose for your business that goes beyond making a profit. Consumers are more informed and know when you are hiding something or trying to feign authenticity – Be Real.
Millennials communicate differently than previous generations and despite their love of tech they still like to speak to humans, albeit in a different way. You need to have Social Engagement with your audience, 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands to not only be on social networks but to engage them too. They prefer social media, emails and message to phone calls for non-urgent matters but you must have a phone number available for other customer service issues. Hiding your phone number will not bode well for loyalty.
Your mamma always said that ‘honesty is the best policy’ well she was right. Brands need to be honest and admit when they are wrong. Your company needs to give clarity – for example, if you’re late on delivering something such as a product launch, don’t go quiet, simply admit that you’ve had setbacks and you will change the date. If you make a mistake, put your hands up and say ‘my bad!’ and admit that you were wrong. You need to be careful though the best apologies don’t make excuses – We were wrong, we will investigate and every effort will be made to fix it – simple! Basically, don’t do what United Airlines did.
Putting it simply
Millennials may seem demanding on the surface but without a doubt their intentions are good and when you really think about it they are so very right. Why ‘invest’ your time, money and effort into a brand, product or company if they are not going to give back to the world they take from? Why work if you have no time to enjoy the money you have earned? Why go through life just doing and not experiencing the best you can get? In short, we simply need to give in, be a little more open and pure, manage expectations and tell the truth.