Caricatures have often represented Generation Y as a cohort of contradictions – the millennial is plugged in, yet notoriously distracted; engaged, but mostly in the realm of social networks; self-involved, yet can be enthusiastic advocates of social causes.
These multiple stereotypes, while not adequate (or entirely wrong!), highlight the broad tendencies of a group that makes up over a quarter of the global population. Understanding Gen Y’s unique experiences not only allows companies to better market their brands to this powerful target group, but can also help build meaningful, long-lasting connections.
But first, who are the millennials, what fuels them and what habits do they share?
Born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, Gen Y was bred on a diet of technology and grew up in a culture dominated by change, which largely explains their adeptness at embracing everything new and exciting. Socially liberal, experimental, and incredibly tech-savvy, the millennial cohort values being engaged, staying in the loop and immersing themselves in exceptional experiences.
This group of consumers is already reshaping the economy with their purchasing power, preference and influence. So how can businesses and marketers capture the millennial imagination? Here are some tips:
The Digital Natives
With technology as the pulse, it comes as no surprise that Gen Y thrives on virtual transactions and digital communications. Comfortable with using social media to broadcast their concerns, foster connections and educate themselves on products and services, millennials see social channels as repositories of “wisdom”, connecting them to peer reviews and trusted endorsements while allowing them to share opinions before committing to any form of purchase.
To effectively reach out to millennials, brands have to meet them where they are – this means operating across a multitude of social platforms with dexterity. Businesses need to actively engage millennials by responding quickly to queries and posting feedback on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like; regularly upload multimedia content that can be easily shared (short, captioned videos are best at hooking viewers!); and leverage user-generated content to build brand awareness and loyalty.
Given Gen Y’s affinity for technology and interactivity, a static digital presence is no longer sufficient. Marketing that optimises the word-of-mouth culture, exciting interfaces and visual languages, and mobile-friendly promotional media is key to capturing and sustaining the attention of millennials.
Provide the Ultimate Experience
While the generation that preceded them was more focused on living in preparation for the future, millennials are generally associated with living for the now. Gen Y favours spending money on experiences rather than material possessions. In their search for great experiences, millennials often forego some of the basic luxuries to get the most value out of their dollar.
Millennials’ spending habits have since given rise to the sharing economy, resulting in the growth of businesses like Airbnb, Grab and Uber. These companies, through their shared products and services, remove the burden of ownership, and simultaneously help users save on expenditures.
With information, reviews and cost comparisons at their fingertips, millennials are inclined to trawling online resources before deciding on products or services that promise incomparable experiences at the best prices. Brands can deliver special deals and product trials on social channels and apps to appeal to this consumer base. Events or offerings that seek the involvement of millennials will also make it easier for brands to resonate with this group.
Sell Your Purpose
Millennials are known to take up or advocate a plethora of social issues, and expect brands to do the same. Companies should look beyond marketing products that enhance lifestyles, but seek to connect with Gen Y on an emotional level. Millennials care about content that speaks to them, and if brands similarly promote values that they uphold. Immune to most traditional sales pitches (they’ve seen it all!), millennials are likely to use their buying power to support businesses that stand for more than their bottom line receives.
Above all, marketing messages have to be authentic. Many businesses have seen how a forced relationship with a cause or the lack of genuineness can backfire. Take a leaf out of Patagonia, TOMS and Heineken’s books – all great examples of brands that have successfully delivered impactful cause marketing campaigns.
Businesses have to first invest in understanding millennials before they can take advantage of their immense social clout. By directly addressing the millennial generation and recognising what they truly care about, brands will be able to spark a connection and effectively sustain consumer-centric conversations.
Posted by Rahimah Amin, PR Executive, CorpMedia