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How to Guide


How to market to Millennials

How to market to Millennials

By Steve Mellor, a Youth and Kids research consultant at Harris Interactive Europe. He has held positions in market research, planning and marketing consultancy for some of Europes major media, retail and FMCG companies.

Millennials is a term used to describe the demographic cohort following generation X and refers to those born between 1982 and 2001. They are currently between 8 – 27yrs, although for this how-to article I’ll discuss the late teen, young adult cohort predominantly born in the 80’s.

1. Don’t be too edgy.

Sounds bizarre to recommend not being cool when appealing to young people, but young people today are not quite as edgy as you might think. Whilst Generation X were really individualistic and used unorthodox types of expression (like punk), millennials are much more conservative, intelligent and ‘friendly’.

If youth were once rebellious, they are now more institutionally driven.  So think about ensuring your millennial brand isn’t too rebellious or edgy – save this for the Generation X target (roughly 27 – 43yrs).

2. Bring them together for a purpose.

Millenials are incredibly social creatures compared to generation X (something like 30% of friends on social network sites (SNS) have never met physically). Flash mobbing is a perfect way to acknowledge this sociability.

Encouraging people to come together and do something challenging/ exciting/ meaningful when they get there will appear authentic and in tune with the millennial trend of new communities.

3. Get them to share the love.

Marketing is now a top 10 degree. Millenials have been studying brand strategy, guerrilla marketing, WOM and digital media throughout their education and really get it. They mash it up on line, critique it in market research and debate it in the pub.

This means you can ask them to share the love if they like a campaign - provide code to enable them to embed video content into their profile pages and blogs.

4. Adopt a friendship approach when using social networks.

The problem with brands that appear on social networks is that they act like corporate companies – pushing their content out, selling their brand image, previewing their new ranges and pushing new products.

Brands should act like friends in this space – posting status notices, family photos and interacting with fans - just visit Alexandr Orlov on Facebook to see what I mean.

5. They’ve heard every message before so use media for positioning.

Youth are used to having their culture commoditised and sold back to them and brand messages are often regurgitated in slightly different ways (think network operators) and struggle to create a unique message.

Use the characteristics specific to media to lend equities to the brand; for example, advertising within social game sites (Runescape, Habbo) conveys imagination, fun, intellect, escapism or adventure, equities that can reinforce a brands position.

6. Invite a dialogue.

Millenials are used to communicating – they create more, criticise more and join more than any other generation. This two way dialogue is natural and should be encouraged.

Take every opportunity to invite a relationship – for example, IM is the preferential way for young people to chat, so think about using it in on-line sales; or use communities of Millenials for co-creation and buzz marketing.

7. Marketing for the local good.

Millenials aren’t so interested in broad macro issues because those big issues have already been debated. Many commentators describe a pragmatic approach to life paying attention only to the issues that affect them directly – local environment, employment, education and crime.

It makes sense to use grass roots marketing approaches to connect with them in their own communities, rather than grand campaigns that they feel detached from.

8. Make your brand useful.

There are tons of products and the choice is simply overwhelming. Coupled with the pragmatic nature of this generation it makes perfect sense to offer them something useful so you are relevant.

It could be that you are the first port of call for festival reviews – or a ‘guide to’ aficionado – either way, using a pull marketing strategy will encourage millennials to seek you out.

9. Provide new editions.

Youth will always try on different coats to find one that fits. At the last count a certain agency counted around 26 tribes in the UK and this highlights how millennials dip into different scenes at a much higher frequency than ever before.

Clever brands keep their products updated frequently – clothing, footwear and mobile telephony all cater to this requirement for individualism.

10. Help them achieve fame.

Millennials have grown up with heaps of attention placed on them, emerging with high educational attainment, lots of skills and tons of confidence.

At the same time, celebrity status has been devalued and fame has been recalibrated by social networks. What constitutes fame is blurry and Millenials feel fame is attainable - consider how you could help them realise their potential to be famous at what they do.

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