Millennials are projected to supplant Boomers as the largest living generation in the U.S. by the end of this year. By 2017, they’ll outspend them too. In other words, it’s more important now than ever to gain Gen Y’s trust and loyalty. Many marketers, however, are still unsure how to engage this moving target.
Here are four ways direct response marketers and brands can develop deeper relationships with this influential demographic.
1. Demonstrate diversity.Millennials are highly aware of social, political, and economic inequality—making them much more sensitive to brands that miss the mark. Nasty Gal is a prime example of a retailer acknowledging this need for diversity on its social channels. On Instagram, the brand consistently features photos of people from all backgrounds. This photo of Mindy Kaling is a great example. As a celebrity, Kaling is considered relatable to her millennial fans.
2. Remember the good old days.The mass adoption of hashtags like #tbt and #flashbackfriday indicates a trend. Millennials love the ’90s, and smart brands know to play into this nostalgia to engage their fans.
Urban Outfitters, for example, produced one of the top tweets with its reference to the movie Clueless earlier this year. JCPenney demonstrated shrewd social skills with this photo of a Steve Urkel shirt, which positions the child star as the “original hipster.” Consumers could purchase the shirt by clicking on the link.
3. Make them laugh.Laughter isn’t just the best medicine; it’s also the key to engaging millennial men. According to a Comedy Central survey, some 88 percent of millennial men believe that humor is crucial to their self-definition.
Bud Light has a longstanding reputation for playing into male humor. Its #UpForWhatever campaign is a great example. To complement this initiative, the brand asked fans to participate by uploading their own images for a chance to attend exclusive events.
4. Break down gender barriers.The line between male- and female-oriented messaging is progressively blurring. In fact, six in 10 millennials feel they don’t need to conform to traditional gender roles. Millennial men, for instance, embrace things that were once considered traditionally “female” (think fashion, child care and home decor). Men are significantly more likely to be stay-at-home dads, too. One brand that takes note of the active role men now take in U.S. households is Pampers. The brand’s Facebook page is a collection of photos featuring mothers, fathers and babies from all walks of life.
The important thing to remember is make your brand memorable. Perhaps the most interesting part of the millennial buyer is that there isn’t just one. In fact, not long ago, digital analytics firm Exponential Interactive broke them down into 12 distinct character types. As a brand, you might be overwhelmed by the breadth of this generation, but rest assured, their commonalities run deep.
While price is often a major determinant in what millennials buy, about 40 percent believe they exhibit the same level of brand loyalty as their parents. By listening intently and engaging accordingly, marketers can capitalize on that sentiment.
Image courtesy of photostock/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Curalate develops marketing tools for the visual Web market.