How to Market to Millennials

September 13, 2016

They are energetic and connected; they befriend, congregate, consume, communicate, network, and relate like no other generation before them. They grew up in the midst of an information revolution and have lived most of their lives under the shadow of war and terror. There is a sophisticated coolness and ease about them. They are the first generation to see working and socializing by phone as a given. They are the largest generation since the Baby Boomers, a product of Gen X and Gen Y parents who brought having children back into style. They are the Millennials—persons born just before or just after the turn of the 21st century—and they are about to enter adulthood.

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For years Millennials have been talked about as an abstraction. Their attitudes and behaviours have been looked at as curiosities, as matters for academics and pundits to analyze and ponder over. The generation is starting to reach its working years. And anyone running a business has to do more than speculate about the many quirks of Millennials; they have to understand what drives them to spend money. As a business person, you must learn how to market to Millennials.

One statistic alone will suffice to show the importance of this rising group of consumers. Within the next 4 years Millennials will spend $1.4 trillion annually, which will account of nearly 30% of all retail sales in the United States. No company can afford to not get a chunk of that market. To stay competitive, to stay in business at all, you must master the art of marketing to the first of the post-20th century generations.

In this Friday, Jan. 16, 2015, photo, Filipino Catholics prepare to take photos, using their mobile phones and tablets, of Pope Francis aboard his Popemobile in Manila, Philippines. Pope Francis is here on a five-day apostolic visit in this predominantly Catholic nation in Asia. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Here are a few tips for doing so:

1. User-generated content

If you are still heavily invested in traditional forms of advertising, you are clinging to a dying medium. It is not one that is likely to reach under-20s. Millennials live, work, play, and purchase online. The virtual sphere constitutes their entire world. But it does not follow that they all they do is play video games and participate in chat groups all day. Whole communities have sprung up online in which young people exchange observations and experiences in an intelligent and critical way. Millennials do not buy products until they have been to some kind of social test. Unless people in the online communities to which they belong have actually tried and have something positive to say about a thing it will be left unpurchased.

Instagram is one of the premiere social media tools through which young people post pictures and comments about the things they’ve bought. Joining Instagram and capturing your customers’ experiences in a way that is hip and modern can help you effectively market it.

The key to doing this is leveraging the average Millennial’s desire for exhibition. Indeed, this is one of the salient features of this generation: they are highly, almost obsessively, image-oriented. They are the first generation able to take pictures of themselves and share them instantly to a large number of people. Celebrity has in a way become a norm for this generation: everyone with access to social media can be widely publicized and famous in their own right.

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While you can encourage your customers to use Instagram to share their experiences of your product you should take care not to push them too hard. Millennials don’t like to be thought of as a tool of organizations of any kind; they want to do things in their own time and in their own way.

YouTube is also a great platform for user-generated content. Just about everyone can make a YouTube video. And research shows that Millennials are spending more and more time on this platform.

Nearly 90% of Millennials believe that user-generated content is a good indication of the quality of your product. The bottom line to all that has been said is that you must invest a good portion of time, energy, and resources in to building up your presence in social media communities.

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2. Influencer Marketing

Collaborating with major bloggers and other social medial personalities has become big in the world of online marketing. Most Millennials say they would try a product suggested by a YouTuber and a third of them consider blogs to be a significant resource when researching a product.

The vast majority of this industry relies on recommendations from people they know. Millennials do not take as much pride in appearing as persons of independent mind and action. Though they prize individuality, Millennials depend a great deal on advice from friends and family when making financial and purchasing decisions.

The best way to sell to a Millennial is to sell to someone he knows.

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3. Live Streaming

The Millennials demand the raw, the authentic, the lived experience at it unfolds. They have grown up in a world of reality television and 24-hour live cable television. Being there, sharing the moment-by-moment action of an ongoing drama with the rest of the world is something that this generation expects.

Live streaming product launches and parties is a way of giving this generation what it wants. Tools such as Periscope can help give your viewers, and potential clients, a behind-the-scenes look at what your day is like. Indeed, this is the other side of the Millennial’s exhibitionism: their voyeurism. They distrust the carefully staged presentation; they want to see what happens when the cameras are off, so to speak.

Providing live streamed content in which the unexpected can happen is a great way of getting Millennials interested in your brand.

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4. Social Good

As a result of being thoroughly connected to persons and events all over the world, Millennials are a socially conscious generation. They have a strong desire to make the world a better place. They tend to be active in promoting a fairer and more humane society.

Millennials look more favourably upon businesses that are responsible social citizens. It is not enough to avoid doing harm; you must also be connected to one of the causes that Millennials care most about: equal rights, the environment, and access to health care.

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