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Four modern marketing roads that will lead your business into the millennial heartland

In the marketing and advertising world, younger markets or audiences have always been notoriously difficult to crack. Their loyalty is critical to the future success of any brand, and yet they can be the most resistant to persuasion. And in the case of Millennials, it gets even tougher.

Is your business struggling to reach and attract Millennials? You might be on the wrong route. Let’s reconfigure the GPS and think about where you need to go.

Who are Millennials?

Also known as Gen Y, Millennials are the demographic cohort that follows Gen X. Demographers haven’t earmarked official start or end dates to distinguish Millennials from their Generation X predecessors. But the millennial generation can usually be identified by their intuitive use of and familiarity with digital technologies. In fact, they’re often described as digital natives.

Millennial traits vary from one country to the next. But most millennials have been exposed at a young age, via the internet, to much more information than previous generations. As a result, they often have a very globalised worldview and a liberal approach to politics, economics and social issues.

What Makes the Millennial Market Different?

As digital natives, Millennials take to technology like fish to water. So, if you want to market your product or service to millennials, you must learn how to speak to them in their digital language.

Key findings of Fluent’s Marketing to Millennials 2016 Report include:

  • Smartphones are the most popular device among Millennials. 7 in 8 Millennials own a smartphone.
  • Despite the prevalence of smartphones among Millennials, computers remain important.
  • Millennials own smartwatches at nearly twice the rate of the general population.
  • Apple is Millennials’ preferred device brand.
  • Facebook is far less influential with Millennials than it is with older generations.
  • Promotional emails are the most effective digital medium for influencing millennial purchase decisions.
  • Millennials show less concern about data privacy or security than older generations.

We also know that millennials are less brand-loyal than previous generations. Research has shown that traditional advertising and branding tactics don’t stick with these digital natives. According to Daymon Worldwide, only 29% of Millennials usually buy the same brand, compared with 35% of Gen Xers. This lack of brand loyalty changes the game for marketers, making it critical for businesses to rethink the best route to reach the millennial generation.

If you don’t know the way to the millennial heartland, follow these four roads.

1. The Mobile Road

Mobile has grown exponentially in recent years to become the leading digital platform, with total activity on smartphones and tablets making up around two-thirds of all time spent consuming digital media.

A mobile strategy is no longer optional or good-to-have – it’s essential. Google’s 2014/15 Consumer Barometer Survey shows that 40% of Millennials research purchases on smartphones – more than twice the number of people aged 35 or more.

We know that 7 in 8 Millennials own a smartphone. If you want to connect with a millennial audience, mobile is one of the best places to find them.

According to comScore, smartphone apps now capture roughly half of digital media time. Millennials spend around 90 hours per month on smartphone apps. This signals big opportunities for businesses to target the millennial demographic with apps.

2. The Influencers Road

Millennials may be resistant to the usual persuasion tactics of traditional advertising and marketing, but they are not immune to social influence.

If you want to find your way to a Millennial’s heart, try influencer marketing. This tactic relies on key ‘influencers’ to get your brand message across to consumers. An influencer is a figure with a broad social media following, whom Millennials are likely to admire or look up to. Influencers may be thought-leaders, style-leaders, culture-leaders, social media celebrities, bloggers or start-up entrepreneurs. For example, this switched-on sleepwear brand collaborated with Instagram influencer @milymiss to reach her audience of 16,300 followers with this sponsored post.

If you enlist high-profile influencers as ambassadors for your products and services, your brand credibility will skyrocket among Millennials. Some professional influencers will only endorse brands for cash, so you may need to pay or hire them to represent your brand.

Contact the influencer via email or their most active social platform, and pitch a partnership proposal to them. If there’s a natural alignment between the influencer and your brand, you can negotiate gifts and freebies in return for product placement and shout-outs in their posts. The ideal scenario is more organic – in an ideal world, your brand inspires influencers so much that they use it without being asked or paid.

3. The Social Road

As mentioned, Facebook has become a less influential social media platform for Millennials in recent years. But that doesn’t mean your business can’t connect with and capture the imaginations of Millennials on social media.

Millennial social-media use and habits are changing. Some Millennials are reassessing their social media habits to determine what kind of content they value most, and which platforms they get most from. But they certainly have not stopped using social media.

recent survey found that  even though Facebook has become more popular among non-Millennials, 41% of Millennials still use the platform every day.

Other social media platforms (including YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn) were found to be more popular with Millennials than their non-Millennial counterparts.

As digital natives, Millennials are typically early adopters of new technologies. And, in the case of social media, they’ve shown a strong inclination for newer, more visual platforms, like Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. So find them there and let them know more about your brand.

4. The Authentic Road

Millennials grew up with high-speed Internet and smartphones, and they don’t trust traditional advertising. You’ll never get under a Millennial’s skin with fake, generic, spammy marketing. You have to be authentic.

It’s been estimated that Millennials spend about 25 hours per week online – devouring content-driven media. They scour blogs, websites and social media platforms, looking for remarkable, sharable, enlightening content. As engaged members of the online community, they actively like, snap, retweet, share, forward, pin and comment on their discoveries.

And if online content seems contrived, unoriginal, ‘salesy’ or fake, Millennials won’t touch it. In the digital realm, they trust and value authenticity. In fact, when consuming news, 43% of Millennials rank authenticity over content.

For this reason, online reviews are increasingly critical for business success. It’s not enough for you to simply tell your target market that your business is great. But if Millennials can see a hundred positive reviews for your product, they just might feel safe to give you their business.

To build a solid brand-consumer relationship with Millennials, give them content they would proudly share with others. Speak their language. If Millennials hear or read words used by their peers, your messages will elicit comfort and trust.

You may encounter some roadblocks and detours along the roads to the Millennial heartland – but keep going! Once you reach your destination, you’ll be glad you persevered. The Millennial market is elusive and hard-to-catch. But with the right blend of mobile savvy, social media know-how, influencer marketing and authenticity, they can learn to love your brand.

About the author

Nital Shah is the founding director at Octos Digital Marketing Agency. He is an expert in search strategies, planning and management with ten years under his belt and has served big corporate brands in Australia.  

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Nital Shah

Nital Shah

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