Like I wrote last week, Millennials, weighing in at roughly 80 million strong in the US, are now the largest generation since the Boomers. If you want to know who marketeers think are the most important generation, you only need to follow the data. There are reams of it on this generation. Millennials make up the largest portion of today’s consumer spending. That’s despite record high unemployment within this group.
In 2010, The Pew Research Center released a comprehensive report on the Millennials, roughly defined as those born between the late 70’s and early ‘90’s.
According to the report, this generation came of age in a culturally diverse world, they are tech-savvy, enthusiastic, self-centered, confident, well networked and achievement-oriented. Very important to note is that Millennials are one of the best-educated generations in history.
If there’s one thing you need to remember about Millennials when you’re crafting your brand, it’s this – they are the most connected consumer group in history.
Their constant use of technology and social media has given them nearly unlimited power to voice their opinions about brands.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), in a recent study, determined that Millennials are far more likely than their older counterparts to identify with brands and act as advocates for them.
BCG’s survey results confirm two important pieces of information that you can use. First, half of younger US Millennials (18-24) concur that brands say something about who they are, what their values are, and where they fit in. Second, this group is willing to share their brand preferences over social media.
Given this, your opportunity is to harness the social media chatter and turn it into marketing for your brand. Look around at what’s worked for other hugely successful brands, especially those in apparel, entertainment and action sports equipment.
Engage Millennials by encouraging feedback on your brand through online games, tweeting, writing online reviews, posting photos of themselves with your product on Instagram and Pinterest, and of course “liking” you on Facebook. When trying to attract them, remember that music and fashion are highly appealing to this very image driven generation. Think tattoos and piercings.
Want a few examples of brands that are capturing this consumer spending behemoth?
Nike. Millennials associate this brand with being the best in sportswear and athletic gear. It also doesn’t hurt that Nike signs tops athletes for their campaigns.
Then there’s Red Bull. This brand appeals because its personality screams take risks in pursuit of living the dream, with a strong dose of “no parents allowed.”
You can tell from my examples, and from much of the research on Millennials, that they favor brands that offer novelty and prestige.
The attraction to prestige might seem counterintuitive because generally this younger generation is less materialistic than Boomers and X-ers. But they can be more focused on quality, and less on quantity. Since we know that Millennials earn less money than their predecessors, we can surmise that when they do make purchases of quality it’s possible because they’ve been saving up. The good news is your brand doesn’t need to be a bargain basement item to grab some of this market share.
As this generation continues to move away from materialism, studies seem to show that Millennials, even more than Gen X-ers, are moving instead toward a search for a deeper meaning from life. Again, this is valuable information for your brand’s personality.
For example, we know that these younger consumers want to be passionate about their careers. Chef jobs are really hot right now. The prestige of being a foodie appeals to this generation.
As an aside, I think we can credit the TV show “Friends” for helping start this trend. Remember the brunette Monica? She was a chef, albeit an oddly thin one. Then came the Food Channel. The food industry has exploded from there partly on the strength of these younger job-seekers searching for a career where they can really be in touch with what they do for a living.
How do you do that?
Position your brand as a change agent. Make sure they see that your brand’s mission statement goes far beyond the bottom line. That you care about what they care about, like being a global citizen and global warming.
Most of all appeal to the Millennials’ belief that they can make the future better. Who knows? Maybe they can.