It’s 2015 and the United States is changing in new ways with an onslaught of new technology and unique experiences overtaking the attention and incomes of the Millennial generation (adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015). Many seek to stereotype this demographic as lazy, entitled, and narcissistic, but often marketers and the media alike misunderstand them at their own peril. As marketing professionals, there are 5 big reasons why, we can’t afford to ignore the rise of the Millennial.
- There are a lot of them. No, this generation isn’t Baby Boomer-sized. It’s bigger. Millennials now make up more than ¼ of the United States, outnumbering Boomers, and they display a level of cultural, ethnic, and functional diversity far different from the prior generation. They won’t cease to be influenced by their backgrounds as they age, retaining many of the key traits commonly used to dismiss them, in fact, they’ll continue their unique habits of consumption and engagement with brands, radically changing the way we have to approach mainstream marketing. Marketers must approach them on their rapidly evolving channels of accessing both online and offline content.
- They’re plugged in. Millennials are unique compared to other generations in that they are immensely connected with each other as well as brands on social media. For some, their cell phone, laptop and playstations are an extension of their body. While businesses have begun to place extra attention on building a digital presence, the people who do it right (1, 2, 3) are rapidly outpacing those who have unengaging or nonexistent social media channels. With brands intruding into these new channels of interpersonal communication, it’s a no-brainer that it’s one of the most successful methods of getting consumers, especially Millennials, to talk about and share your brand. This can be a double-edged sword, though, so be careful what you say!
- They’re willing to share. for a price. Edward Snowden. The NSA. Weekly corporate data breaches. Millennials know that the Internet is a place where both the legitimate and illegitimate are jockeying to get their hands on personal information that they can use for profit or abuse. Millennials being the best educated generation in American history, they know how to bargain. It’s much harder in both the online and offline spaces to gain the trust of Millennials, but they display a strong willingness to share in exchange for something in return. Keep this in mind the next time you write copy for your annoying email capture popup. With big data running the show in a world where programmatic is taking over, it’s important to obtain accurate and usable info on consumers.
- They trust their friends more than you. This may sound like another obvious one, but the trust of a consumer’s friends is key. With 95% of Millennials claiming their friends are more credible in regards to brands and products than the brands themselves and 91% of them willing to pull the trigger on a purchase at the recommendation of a friend. What this means for brands is that nurturing relationships with consumers both actively and passively are more important than ever. One bad experience for a consumer can lead to a poor image of your brand being broadcast to thousands of their Twitter followers.
- “Millennial” means nothing. There is no one image of what a Millennial truly is beyond having been born in a loosely agreed upon date range. Rather than targeting a relatively homogenous cultural group of Americans, it has been argued that monoculture is dead with the rise of Millennials. A true understanding of these consumers must include the knowledge that Millennials are made up of a larger portion and number of ethnic and cultural minorities than ever before. This generation is beyond just diverse, they’re the best educated and always plugged-in. The outdated thought that one strategy to reach many different cultures will be successful is quickly dying as brands vie for relevance in almost every different subset. A failure to keep up with this trend will leave companies in the dust of their competitors as 43% of millennials are comprised of racial or ethnic minorities, a number heavily influenced by a strong influx of Asian and Hispanic migration.
In other words: Times are changing and it’s time for many marketers to play catch up. One common trend is that our messages must be more personable and personalized than ever before. Another is that we must strive harder to be relevant in an age of digital clutter and rapid cultural diversification. Throughout the rise of the Millennial, we’re going to need to continuously evaluate and adapt our strategies to reach this dynamic generation.
Think you know Millennials? Tell me your Millennial marketing success story for a chance to get featured on the Campus Media Group blog. Just write Jamie@CampusMediaGroup.com and we’ll get in touch!
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