The fine art of marketing to Millennials
Millennials—that elusive group aged somewhere between 18 and 32, depending on whom you ask—have been in the news a lot in recent years. There’s the perpetual unemployment problem among that age set, along with hefty college debt. And fast food behemoth McDonald’s is now looking to rejig its menu to appeal to more health-conscious 20-somethings.
The 18 to 32 thing is pretty wide. A lot of marketers are now slicing this coveted demographic into subgroups, which is probably wise. Most agree that a Millennial is anyone born after 1980, but it varies by a year or two, here and there.
As a marketer, whether you’re selling B2B or B2C, if you aren’t selling to Millennials now, you soon will be. It’s a big group. According to the National Conference on Citizenship, they are 82 million strong. (Compare that to 77 million Boomers, the group we always associate with massive proportions!)
Like Generation X before them, Millennials are diverse. But for this crowd of connected kids, there are common threads they care about. Here are five cool facts about them:
They’re used to competition… and adapt to it. Pickings are slim with jobs. Unlike older generations, Millennials are willing to put in unpaid internships, part-time work in retail and other sacrifices to get by until their ship comes in. Consequently, many live with their parents in the burbs or share rent with friends in urban settings. They’re not doing the traditional get-a-job-get-married-buy-a-house thing. So some marketing messages and imagery of yesteryear may just not jive.
Some have compared Millennials, interestingly, to The Greatest Generation—the people that came of age during the Great Depression. Those dire times created a resourceful, hardworking, willing-to-sacrifice group that rebuilt our country after WWII. It will be interesting to see how a rough economic start will shape Millennials.
Their spending reveals a lot. It’s hard to imagine a Millennial without a smart phone. Most are willing to go without other things—particularly more luxury-type items—to be able to afford the technology they so love. And when it comes to buying from companies and brands, technology is a big driver. Amazon, Zipcar and others rely heavily on technology to keeps costs down and services/products more accessible. Millennials love that and take advantage of it.
They like variety and being able to customize products, too. Millennials grew up with more choices than anyone before them—everything from colleges to attend to the cereals in the food aisle. Made to order, buffets, variety, picking custom colors—they’re all approaches Millennials are used to and want. Your product or service should probably offer options if you want to attract them.
Being social… both online and with issues. To engage this generation, social media like Facebook and Twitter are musts. Having these resources is far from being a novelty anymore—they’re business necessities.
In the real world, Millennials care deeply about social issues, injustice, and even politics. And they will openly support companies that are aligned with their views. Remember, they have grown up in a world of globalization, fewer jobs, pollution issues, healthcare woes and more. They are aware of and active about the big issues and expect your brand to be, too.
– Andy Badalamenti is the creative director for CI-Group