As millennials move into their late 30’s, their consumer activity has become the subject of intense interest to corporations, behavioral analysts, and marketers.
But marketing for millennials is difficult, particularly digital marketing. Remember, this is a generation that grew up with the Age of Information. They expect easy internet access, embrace social media, and, importantly for marketers, are extremely comfortable with e-commerce and online payments.
As their purchasing power peaks, brands need to work harder than ever to engage millennials and interest them in their products and services. So what are some common characteristics among millennials and their digital life?
- On average, Millennials pick up their phones over 100 times a day.
- Millennials enjoy ‘scrolling’ and ‘browsing’ through portals like Instagram and Facebook – browsing often happens without the aim of finding something specific.
- They particularly enjoy content about traveling, experiences, and lifestyle.
- They crave originality – after all, they’ve seen it all.
Keep your friends close, but your smartphone closer
80% of Millennials sleep with their phone on their nightstand. If your digital content is not mobile-friendly, chances are your target audience will either never see it or, if they do, fail to interact with it.
By keeping content readable on mobile and optimizing webpages to be mobile-user friendly, businesses can not only capture their audience’s attention – but they can also keep it.
“If content is king, then context is god.”
Bill Gates’ famous ‘rule-of-thumb’ of content marketing – that content is king – has been modified to help businesses target Millennials. As such, brands have abandoned traditional methods of marketing and advertising. Instead, they have chosen to approach their consumers through social media platforms with all sorts of innovative, unique content, often only tangentially related to the product they are selling.
A great example of this is one of the most famous marketing campaigns of the decade: Dove’s ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’. In this, Dove saw an opportunity to speak to their largest demographic: women. The campaign started with a photoshoot of women of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities. The models discussed how they grew to love their appearance even though they did not fit within the narrow standards of conventional beauty. The results were fascinating – Dove was able to appeal to women globally and then connect them to their product: a bar of soap.
And while such clever approaches as Dove’s would still be effective, their use of traditional media – TV advertisements, magazine spreads, and billboards – would not be sufficient to reach Millennials.
The Age of Digital Interaction
Today’s Dove marketing strategists would have to generate engaging, viral digital content that will catch and keep the attention of a Millennial audience. Content must be delivered in multiple formats: articles, videos, podcasts, blogs, vlogs, photos, webinars, endorsements from “influencers,” and more. Finding viable formats is the easy part; the hard part is generating truly sharable content in volume. But what defines good content for Millennials?
Take a look at how the food and beverage industry has approached the changing consumer landscape.
Instead of posting bland, impersonal sales messages – “Our beer is delicious, please buy it,” we see drinks companies appealing to their consumers’ aspirations and desired sense-of-self.
Pre-social media, a beer ad would consist of a can of lager with condensation dripping down to emphasize refreshment. Now, the beer can assumes only a secondary role, a prop in the backdrop of a scene of friends enjoying a happy, healthy interaction after work or on the beach.
Millennials buy the experience, not the beer, and we have seen many brands reach their consumers by transforming a simple product into an essential part of an aspirational lifestyle. But what other factors do millennials have in common?
Be the change you want to see in the world
Millennials want to make a difference.
A common method that brands use to give their consumers the feeling that they are a force for positive change in the world is through relationships with good causes – this can be anything from sponsoring an aid program to switching to more environmentally-friendly methods of production or service, for example, Bacardi’s high-profile opposition to plastic straws.
Whatever cause your brand is attached to, the important part (from a marketeer’s point of view) is to get the message out there. A savvy content team can generate a lot of high-quality, sharable content by highlighting these relationships; however, be careful not to overdo it. Nothing is appealing about overt self-congratulation.
Content marketing to Millennials is a double-edged sword. A consumer segment has never been easier to reach nor harder to impress, but isn’t that our challenge as marketers?