The buying power of Millennials continues to increase year over year, making it an unavoidable market segment for top brands. Many brands, though, struggle to connect with this generation. Adding to the struggle, older, well-established brands are also competing with hip, young startups like Trunk Club, Dollar Shave Club, and TOMS Shoes for a share of Millenials' spending. In order to stay relevant to this massive market and gain a share of their wallet, older brands must be able to adapt and reach these consumers on a new level.
Christie Garton recently wrote a post with some tips for old brands to stay young and appeal to Millenials based on her recent book Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever. Evolving with trends and appealing to new generations is a continual cycle for brands. Using some of Christie's advice and some of my own experiences as a Millenial, here are some tips for brands to stay young and appeal to the Millenial generation.
1. Mobile is Everything
A majority of Americans now own a smart phone and the majority of those that own smart phones fall in the 18-34 demographic (Pew Internet). The easiest way to start appealing to Millennials is to reach them where they are -- on a mobile device.
Millennials will be the 70% of consumers who will delete an email immediately if it is not optimized for mobile. Millennials love their phones, the newest apps, text-in mobile marketing campaigns, being on-the-go, and always being plugged in. Depending on your brand, constructing a mobile marketing strategy could be one of the best ways to begin appealing to Millennials.
If you're struggling to develop a mobile strategy, our very own Heike Baird puts it perfectly saying, "Your marketing colleagues in the millennial generation will be your best assets at reminding you of the importance of mobile strategy and helping you brainstorm what works best—because they love their phones."
2. Social Sharing.
Millennials grew up sharing on social media. 75% of Millennials have a profile on a social networking site (Pew Internet). Millennials expect brands to have a social presence, but would rather see a brand without a social presence than a brand with unengaging, self-centered social media marketing. Don't take the shotgun approach or "spray and pray." As you begin, focus your efforts on where the audience you are trying to reach is participating the most. Start there and build your way up.
3. Showcase your Corporate Philanthropy
This appeals to consumers of any generation, but Millennials especially feel a connection to philanthropy and giving back. Over 80% of Millennials gave a financial contribution to a non-profit in 2012. Without being flashy, engage Millennials through your coporate philanthropy efforts and being transparent (The Millennial Impact).
4. Hire Millennials and Bring them into the Conversation
Who knows how to appeal and reach Millennials better than Millennials? Employees are your greatest assets. Young talent can help you understand the Millennial viewpoint. Invite them into the strategic process and use them as a sounding board for your marketing ideas.
The next three tips come from Christie Garton:
5. Listen to the Data
Continually conduct research to discover the trends in your customer base and where you need to pivot or adjust. Connecting with new generations is all about listening to the market and adjusting. "Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times." — Niccolo Machiavelli
6. Focus on Delayed Gratification
Start making a connection with Millennials today, even if the ROI is years down the road. It is important to begin building your proprietary audiences so that when you need them, you already have easy acces to them. The payoff for Millennials may be farther down the road, but begin building that audience and loyalty to your brand as soon as possible.
7. Be Personable
As the great Donald O'Connor put it, "Make 'em Laugh." All consumers want to interact with a personable brand. They want to connect on a personal level. Millennials care even more about having a sense of humor and being entertained. Garton cites Old Spice and Dollar Shave Club as brands who have connected with the Millennial generation on a deeper level because of their humor and relatability.