Say what you want about them but Millennials are anything but typical and they are completely changing the way companies brand and market themselves. Call them soft, lazy, entitled snowflakes, in need of their wi-fi, iced mochas, mental health days and safe spaces but if you ignore them, you may quickly find yourself out of business.
The definition of a “Millennial” varies from website to website but for the sake of this blog, let’s just call them anyone born between 1982 and 1998. Also known as Generation “Y” or Generation “Me” and with about 83.1 million strong, Millennials have become the largest generation in the United States. Regardless of your opinions of them, they are a formidable segment of the consumer population and they have a big impact on the U.S. economy. Just ask companies like Budweiser or Sears what power the “Millies” have.
The most current research shows that Millennials are driving brands to produce more socially responsible marketing, also more personalized marketing, not just marketing for their “generation”, they also want to influence brands, they want their voices to be heard and unlike never before they are being heard because social media gives people access to corporate executives and decision makers. In addition to being influencers, they are also easily influenced by the rants and reviews of their friends and peers on social media.
According to a Nielsen rating report, less than 2% of Millennials channel surf during commercials, while watching tv. This is a significant shift in viewing habits from previous generations who doubled and quadrupled that percentage and it points directly to the rise in use of mobile devices. The report does indicate that Millennials still view television in the traditional sense but while frequently and simultaneously being tuned into TV-connected devices. Millennials also multitask while taking in media, they switch between devices frequently, from phones to tablets to laptops to smart TVs so, the need to market across multiple devices and platforms becomes even more important for advertisers. Being inundated by media, this generation has a general disdain for traditional tv ads, radio ads, and sales pitches, and they have learned to tune out much of it so, if you’re not advertising on mobile devices, your days in business are probably numbered.
Like never before, marketers have a window into our lives and lifestyles, our social groups, political and religious affiliations, hobbies, interests, family, friends, viewing, listening, spending and search habits and basically our personal histories. Because Millennials are most transparent about these aspects of their lives, it gives advertisers the ability to target them with more specificity but it also presents challenges because marketing to this demographic is more complicated than it has been to any previous generation.
According to Nielsen, a lot of Millennials polled said that they understand the need for ads and aren’t bothered by them (they just ignore them), but, the percentage jumps from 46% to 75% when the content the ads are attached to is free.
At the heart of all the research done on this generation, Millennials seem to want to be acknowledged as individuals, they want options and they want to feel connected, this shouldn’t be hard to understand.
Personally, I think most of criticism of “Millies” as a whole is unfair and overly harsh as I am not a fan of broad, sweeping generalizations, there are a couple of things that I really love about this group and many of my friends and family are of this generation. If you are a business owner and you plan to stay in business over the next decade, you must adapt your marketing strategy or you will likely find yourself serving low fat, organic, gluten-free, non-dairy, decaffeinated, free-trade, pumpkin spice, iced mocha frappuccinos to Millenials.