Marketing to Millennials is hard. Millennials are known to be heavily budget conscious, underemployed, and skeptical consumers, traits that can make them difficult to get a hold on. However, this situation is slowly changing. 2017 is predicted to be the year of Millennials becoming real consumers. Finally, many of this generation are starting to earn money, giving birth, and moving into positions in industry with significant spending power. It’s estimated Millennials will be spending $10 trillion over their lifetimes as consumers, in the U.S. alone.

Because of this shift, now is exactly the right time to face the challenge and finally make your marketing Millennial-friendly. Here are some key tips.

1. Communicate with your target audience

Millennials want brands to socialize with them, to make them part of the conversation, to participate in the life of a brand. And what’s the best way to communicate with Millennials? Unsurprisingly, it’s social media. 90 percent of young adults use social media, and a third of Millennials say it’s one of their preferred channels for communicating with businesses.

Surely, you already have a brand page on Facebook, and maybe even on Twitter. Is that enough? You guessed it – no.

Having a page and posting some information about your company is still a monologue – the key thing that brands need to change is that they need to re-think how they engage from these channels. So how do you become truly social?

  • Post interesting and relevant questions on your page – Your readers will appreciate it if they see that you are interested in their opinion about the product, so any question connected to engaging the user into your business is a good start.
  • Start the conversation (make the first step) – Use a social media monitoring tool to find all people that may, potentially, be interested in your product. For example, if you’re an owner of the vegetarian restaurant, find mentions about vegetarianism in social media and invite the authors personally.
  • Always reply to mentions of your brand – This isn’t something you have to start in 2017 – you should have been doing this for the last couple of years. This is basic etiquette: if your customers are talking to you -even via social media – you should join the conversation. This could mean providing outstanding customer support, answering questions or replying to praise or a complaint. It’s worth using a social media monitoring tool to also assist in locating such comments as consumers won’t always use brand pages to voice their opinions.

2. Recognize Millennial’s strive for self-expression (and use it in marketing)

Branding has gone hand in hand with self-expression since the appearance of the term “branding”. According to BCG Perspectives, almost 60% of Millennials say that the brands they buy reflect their style and personality.

There are many ways in which Millennials express their personality. This can be purely a matter of the looks – clothes, accessories, makeup, etc. – but, Millennials are also keen to voice their personality in different ways. For example, they’re more likely to express themselves through supporting social causes than previous generations.

Marketing to Millennials in 2017: 5 Things to Change in Your Business

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Whatever the type of your business is, it’s worth thinking about how you can relate it to your target audience’s image of themselves – research shows that up to 40% of Millennials are willing to pay extra for a brand or product that reflects the image they wish to convey about themselves.

Another way to appeal to Millennials’ need for self-expression is to invite them to do that using your brand. For example, you could ask them to share their photos, ideas and stories.

3. Respect their difference and uniqueness

Millennials are a large and extremely diverse generation. While it’s tempting to see all of them as selfie-obsessed, irresponsible, empathetic, or anything else, the truth is that generalizing in this way is risky and largely inaccurate. Millennials are aware of this better than any other generation, as they grew up with the Internet, and anyone who has ever used social media knows that there are all kinds of people out there. This doesn’t mean that Millennials know better than to stereotype: unfortunately, it’s a cognitive process that is very hard to overcome. Yet, when presented with shameless stereotype marketing, millennials get mad.

This Huggies’ ad wasn’t simply ineffective. It started a petition  “We’re Dads, Huggies. Not Dummies” that forced down the ads altogether.

What does it mean for marketing? It means that 2017 will be the year of anti-stereotypical marketing. It’s already started: just look at most recent AXEH&M and KENZO commercials. Don’t mistake this type of advertising as an attempt to jump on the fourth-wave feminism trend, as it’s not limited to it. Rather, these brands show that they respect the unique nature of every person – and who doesn’t like being told they are amazing just the way they are? Millennials – like anyone else – feel gratification and trust towards brands who recognize their uniqueness.

4. Offer experience

There is an ongoing talk about Millennials valuing experience over things. The sharing economy is the one and only for this generation – Millennials rent everything from flats to party dresses. Change, however, hasn’t stopped at abandoning ownership. Millennials are also more keen on spending their life experiencing things, a trend reflected in increased spend within the entertainment sector. Travel, music events, festivals – you name it. Since 1987 the share of consumer spending on live experiences and events relative to total U.S. consumer spending has increased by 70%. In fact, more than 3 in 4 Millennials (78%) would choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something desirable.

So what should you do if you’re selling solid products and not paragliding in India? Brands need to find a way to incorporate experiences into their marketing process.

Sponsor live events, offer deals and contests that provide experiences instead of additional products. It’s also important to turn shopping into an experience  within itself. If it’s online shopping, your website should be as neat and pleasant to use as humanly possible, and if it is in-store, there should be something special about your shop that brings people back.

For example, the experience of shopping in Hollister has been described as “theatrical” by many marketers, as their shops look a lot like beach parties. Sephora, on the other hand, has made their online shopping experience seamless and exciting by introducing virtual makeup try-on and buying guides.

5. Validate your brand

Millennials are native researchers when it comes to shopping – 80%, for example, wouldn’t buy a hairspray without reading 10 reviews online before choosing the one for them. To make sure every step of customer’s research leads to the ultimate goal – purchase – brands should demonstrate their trustworthiness and expertise.

  • Take care of the reviews you already have – Check the online reviews about your brand and make sure you address any negativity there is. Reviews can be found with the help of a social monitoring tool. It’s important to cover opinions that are coming both from social networks like Facebook and review sites like Yelp.
  • Encourage your customers to share their experience online – If you’re not doing that yet, start now. There are few things as effective as positive reviews of real customers, yet data shows that consumers are more likely to complain about a bad experience than they are to post a positive review about a good one. People need encouragement. For example, offer giveawaye for posting a review online, or introduce a contest among those that post reviews.
  • Add social media influencers to your networking circle – There are three key ways businesses become visible on social networks: through creative marketing campaigns (or creative customer support), by offering amazing deals that make people follow the brand pages, or through social media influencers. Social media influencers are simply people that are influential in their communities, trusted voices who are able to help share your brand message by introducing your brand to a wider audience. Connecting with influencers can be highly effective in Millennial marketing: a single mention of a product can bring you thousands of clients. To connect with influencers, start by socializing and sharing their content, then offer your product for a review.

Conclusion

Marketing to Millennials in 2017 isn’t qualitatively different from that of 2015/16, as you might have guessed. However, more is required from businesses this year: more creativity, communication, personal approach, and, of course, better control of social media. And this year Millennials will finally respond to your marketing efforts.

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