by Juan Robin II
Depending on whom you ask, Millennials have an interesting reputation.
Ask their parents, teachers, and employers, and I’m sure you’ll get a different response from all of them.
An old Time Magazine cover story labeled Millennials as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”
Truthfully, I think that’s a bit harsh. But it’s safe to say their character traits are very different from those of the generations that preceded them.
Who are Millennials? Although the time period within which they were born is not exact, the term Millennials, also known as Generation Y, generally refers to anyone born during the mid 1980s to the mid 1990s.
Some people even consider anyone born in the early 2000s as a Millennial. But for the most part, anyone born after the late 1990s is labeled as Generation Z.
Why is it important for you as a business owner to recognize this group of people? For starters, this generation constitutes the largest slice of the total population in the United States.
Furthermore, Millennials are projected to stay at the top of these charts for decades to come:
As a marketer, you need to learn how to clearly identify your target audience.
All of your products, services, and advertisements shouldn’t speak to everyone on the planet. That’s why learning how to use generational marketing to segment your target audience is a winning strategy.
If you are currently targeting Millennials, this guide will help you improve your efforts.
If you haven’t implemented a marketing strategy aimed specifically at Millennials, it’s not too late to start. I’ll explain everything you need to know to help you target the Millennial consumer.
Speak to their entrepreneurial spirits
Before you can start marketing to anyone, you need to try to understand how they think and behave. Develop a customer persona as a research tool.
One of the elements of this type of marketing tool is the ability to analyze the consumer’s work habits. Unlike previous generations who got jobs and stuck with them until they retired, Millennials have other ambitions.
In fact, 54% of Millennials want to start their own companies or have already started one.
That’s because they want their lives and schedules to be more flexible compared to the stereotypical workweek. In fact, 89% of this group say they would rather decide themselves when and where to work as opposed to working a standard nine to five job.
Further, 45% of Millennials would choose a job with a more flexible schedule rather than a higher pay rate.
That’s why it should come as no surprise that Millennials spend fewer years at the same job compared to previous generations.
Use this information to your advantage when it comes to your marketing strategy.
Present your brand so that it appears flexible and can help entrepreneurs. Find a way to make your products useful for young adults who want to start their own businesses.
Recognize they probably won’t stay at their current jobs for long. Sell them a lifestyle that fits their needs and wants.
Understand how they live
Outside of their lives at work, you’ve also got to consider other places where your target market spends the majority of their time.
At the very least, you can assume they’ll spend roughly eight hours or so sleeping at home. Naturally, it makes sense for you to analyze their home lives.
But don’t make any assumptions. The home life of a Millennial is very different from that of previous generations.
Research found 65% of Millennials across the United States rent their homes. This is more than double the percentage of Baby Boomers who are renters.
Millennials are happy renters and don’t necessarily plan to buy a home in the foreseeable future.
As you can see, there are other characteristics that this group looks for when it comes to their housing situations. They prefer apartments as opposed to houses.
This may have to do with their flexible lifestyle. They may not have, need, or want the possessions and furniture to fill the larger space of a house.
From a marketing perspective, you need to recognize this if you sell products related to the home furnishings industry. You need to adjust your marketing campaigns accordingly to target Millennials.
They won’t spend thousands of dollars on a couch if they know it’s only going to be kept in their apartment for a year during a short lease.
If they plan on changing jobs and moving, they may opt to leave behind big furniture or sell it themselves. They won’t make a big investment in these products.
Millennials also want to live in lively communities. They want proximity to local shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars. It’s important for them to find areas where they can walk, bike, and have easy access to public transportation.
We also know that 76% of Millennials who pay rent also own a pet. Marketers can build a customer persona as a pet owner.
Furthermore, it’s important to understand that the majority of Millennials pay rent because they want to.
Studies show that 60% of this group chooses to rent, while 40% say they can’t afford a down payment to buy something.
Marketers need to sell products and services that accommodate the needs of Millennial renters. If you’ve got an advertisement featuring a young adult in their newly purchased home, it’s probably not going to speak to Millennials because they can’t relate to that situation.
Don’t insult their intelligence
Despite what you may think about their character traits or work ethic, you can’t ignore the fact that Millennials are smart.
Don’t believe me? Well, more than one-third of Millennials have at least a four-year college degree. This makes them the highest educated group in the country.
And 87% of Millennials worked up to management roles in their workplaces over the last five years. This compares to just 38% of Generation X-ers and 19% of Baby Boomers who achieved that during the same time frame.
It wouldn’t be wise for marketers to try to outsmart this demographic.
Yes, you’re trying to sell them something. Embrace it. Don’t try to trick them or have some kind of hidden agenda. They will be more willing to trust a company that is straightforward with their marketing strategy.
Be charitable and socially responsible
Millennials care about people and the planet.
If your company supports a cause, it increases the chances that Millennials will buy something from your brand.
Here’s a great example of this type of strategy put to use with the Warby Parker “buy a pair, give a pair” campaign:
The company donates glasses to people across the world who have vision problems and can’t afford help. This type of campaign will speak to a Millennial target market.
That’s because 81% of Millennials say they expect businesses to make a commitment to corporate citizenship. And 62% of this demographic say they expect executives and company leaders to focus their efforts on making improvements to society.
Partnering with the right causes and charities can help you with your sales.
First of all, it’s just the right thing to do. You’ll even get tax write-offs for your donations. But second, it will help you reach your Millennial audience and encourage more purchases.
We know that 70% of Millennials will spend more money on brands that support a cause they care about.
While charity is important, there are other ways for your brand to focus on social responsibility to target Millennials. For example, you can make products from recycled goods.
Do your part to minimize your carbon footprint on the planet. Partner with and support other brands that do the same.
You may already be doing such these things but not promoting them well. Don’t be shy. Share with everyone the ways your company is being charitable and socially responsible.
Create social proof
You won’t say anything bad about your brand.
Quite the opposite, you may be promoting your product as the best on the planet, which is obviously a biased opinion.
As we previously discussed, Millennials are intelligent. You’re not fooling anyone with these types of campaigns.
Don’t get me wrong, your products and services might be great. But it doesn’t mean as much if these words are coming from you.
Instead, you need to get other people to say how great your brand is. Creating social proof to improve conversions increases the chances of Millennials buying your products.
Consider this: 84% of Millennials say they don’t trust traditional marketing. But they are more willing to trust their peers, friends, and family.
The best way to create social proof is by getting your current customers to become advocates for your brand. Encourage them to write product reviews.
Get people to post about your products on social media.
As you can see, social media posts influence Millennials when it comes to making purchasing decisions.
You can also come up with customer referral programs as a way to get your customers to recommend your brand to others.
Tactics like these will be much more effective than traditional ads when it comes to your Millennial marketing strategy.
This should go without saying, but I wanted to include it regardless because it’s so important.
It’s no secret that Millennials are tech-savvy. In fact, 85% of Millennials have smartphones. In addition to their jobs and homes, you also need to consider where they live their digital lives.
They use social media, email, and apps on a daily basis, all from their mobile devices.
If you want to reach this audience, your company needs to have a mobile-friendly website.
If you are looking to take your mobile presence to the next level, consider building a mobile app. This is one of the best ways to increase sales by encouraging mobile spending.
Plus, with a mobile app, you can stay in constant communication with your Millennial audience by sending them push notifications.
This will make it more likely for you to generate sales from Millennial consumers.
Leverage social media
Millennials love social media.
Earlier I discussed how posts from their peers on social networks influence this group. But that’s not the only way you can use these platforms to your advantage.
Run campaigns that create FOMO (the fear of missing out). It will encourage your Millennial target market to jump on board.
Whether it’s a sale or a new trend, Millennials are constantly trying to “keep up with the Joneses” on social media.
That’s why they post about events on social sites more than any other generation.
Your business obviously needs to be active on social media to survive in 2018.
But when it comes to your Millennial marketing strategy, social media needs to be at the top of your priority list.
Meet their travel needs
Earlier I discussed how Millennials live. They live in rental apartments to have more flexibility in their lives.
But Millennials also want to travel. Take a look at these numbers that prove my point:
Furthermore, 69% of Millennials say they have a thirst for adventure. Brands need to recognize this to stay competitive and reach this demographic.
Don’t just sell a product. Sell a lifestyle.
Run ads and promotions to position your product within the travel industry. Sometimes you just need to get creative here.
For example, let’s say your company sells backpacks. Rather than running an ad that shows the bag being great for commuting to work or lugging belongings around town, you can demonstrate it’s the perfect backpack as an airplane carry-on bag.
This strategy can be applied to virtually every product. Don’t believe me?
Check out this marketing example from Banana Republic:
They have a whole product line of traveler jeans.
What makes these jeans different from regular jeans? Well, according to the product description, these ones are soft and provide the perfect amount of stretch to keep you comfortable when traveling.
Realistically, they are just jeans. But it’s all about how you position your products.
I’ve seen this strategy used by other clothing brands as well. For example, some brands promote zipper pockets on their clothing that can fit a passport.
This way, customers know that their identification is secure when they are traveling. These are the type of functions and marketing tactics that speak to Millennials.
Think what you want about Millennials. But as a business owner, you should see them as a potential source of profit.
You need to change your marketing strategy to target this group.
They are educated entrepreneurs who pay rent and want to live a flexible lifestyle. Millennials don’t want to work standard nine to five jobs.
Be charitable and socially responsible to increase your chances of getting support from Millennial consumers.
Rather than using traditional advertising methods, try to create social proof instead.
Establish a strong mobile presence, and leverage social media platforms to your advantage as a primary distribution channel.
Try to understand as much as you can about the Millennial lifestyle. For example, use information about their travel habits to market your products and services accordingly.
If you look at the research I’ve shown you and follow the tips outlined in this guide, you’ll have a much easier time creating a marketing strategy targeting Millennials.
What marketing tactics is your company using to generate sales from Millennial consumers?