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Ways to connect with the millennials – A branding perspective

When you are a professional in the field of marketing, branding or communication, not a day goes by when you don’t have to listen to these phrases more than once from your bosses, peers or competitors for that matter – “Target the Millennials” or “Your strategies MUST include Millennials” and so on.

I must tell you this; Guess What! The situation was no different a decade ago when branding and marketing professionals had begun their career. For the 1st time when I got these phrases hurled at me, I had several questions in my mind –

  • • Who are these so called millennials?
  • • Why are they so important? What is the need to connect with them?
    & most importantly,
  • • How as a branding and communication professional do I connect with them? Make then buy a brand’s product and services?

If today, as a brand or brand and marketing professional, you are facing the same problems or want to know how to connect with these millennial audiences, read on –

So, who are these so called ‘millennials’?

Before we delve into this, think does saving data in floppy disks, playing video games with joysticks, watching bulging TV sets, conversation with friends over wired telephones or camping trips with friends ring a bell? Do you miss spending an entire afternoon reading about the adventures of Chacha Chaudhary or Nancy Drew or faking being grown up by puffing on fake but minty sweet cigarette shaped candies during your childhood? Did you belong to those who had to remove your shoes while entering the school’s computer lab? Well, if your answer is yes to one or more of these then congratulations, you like me, too are a millennial.

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the demographic group following Generation X and preceding Generation Z. While defining them several studies and research have stated the early 1980s as starting birth years and the mid-1990s to early 2000s as ending birth years, with 1981 to 1996 a widely accepted defining range for the generation.

In short, the world of Millennials is –

  • ✔ A generation that swipes and scans to pay and connect and know more about what the product offers. QR is a way of life and clicks a way of living.
  • ✔ Mobile apps define what their preferences are while Google keeps tracking their preferred searches across platforms.
  • ✔ Tweets and memes define expression and writing is not limited to publishing sources and life is more about open transparent expressions
  • ✔ Influencers are not just a word but a lucrative career option and blogging is no longer a hobby.
  • ✔ World is operating on fibres that connect individuals and also minds’ ideas and seamlessness of innovations
  • ✔ Reaching out to the millennials who consumes so much content and also believes in certain kind of content and has identified itself with people and influencers and attitude. Attitude is a very defining aspect.
  • ✔ Today poets are now more of Instagram publishers reaching their audience through a small device to millions who would relate to the thoughts.
  • ✔ Stage has been redefined as a platform where an upload can go viral and create ripples globally.
  • ✔ The world of opportunity is endless for the millennials and thus their approach has expanded even more vastly not limiting the audience geographically.

Having cleared the air about who are Millennials, lets come to the point - Why are they so important to brands? What is the need to connect with them?

Well, as to respond to the above questions, well millennials are the major emerging opportunity for marketers and brands globally.

As mentioned earlier, Millennials or Generation Y are people born following Gen X and preceding Generation Z. This means that consumers in this gen Y range in age from 16 to 36 year old, give or take a few - well into adulthood with family, jobs or businesses. Today’s population consists of approx. 25% or more of these millennials with an estimated annual buying influence of over a trillion dollar. Millennials rule the economy as they rule the earning spending decision making and all kind of facets that has skewed all market research and approach to business and brand consulting. This makes them the most lucrative group for marketplace.

Secondly, according to an April 2012 survey from the Boston Consulting Group, ‘the typical millennial would describe himself as tech-savvy, cool, and young.’ More so, in the words of Brad D. Smith a well-known businessman, “Millennials, and the generations that follow, are shaping technology. This generation has grown up with computing in the palm of their hands. They are more socially and globally connected through mobile Internet devices than any prior generation.” It’s rightly so as Gen Y is armed with smartphones, laptops, and other gadgets 24/7 and they favour communicating through email, text messaging, and across new social media platform - i.e., Twitter, Instagram – whatever friends and colleagues are using. Millennials are technology savvy and are not reluctant about using it. Creating and connecting both is a challenge and this challenge is becoming more and more technological. This is attractive to the brands selling technology or using technology to sell their products and services.

Thirdly, most of the millennials are in marketing terms ‘Brand Switchers’ – they belong to those groups of purchasers who changes their buying habits, choosing deliberately to purchase another brand instead of their usual choice. This may be due to peer pressure or quality of the product or services. Thus, targeting them increases the chance of escalating conversions

Fourthly, millennials are independent individuals but as a generation they are family oriented which in-turn influences their buying pattern. According to a statistical study by Kissmetrics, 89% of millennials trust recommendations from friends and family more than claims by the brand. They value “word of mouth” about a product or service and thus they tend to buy or use stuff more often than not as they’ve heard great things about it from friends and family. This makes the need of a brand to reach out and connect with them even stronger

Fifthly, millennials as a generation are intelligent and well –informed (i.e. they would like to know about the brand, the reviews received by the brand, whether the brand in in-trend, etc.) coupled with the fact that they as a generation have witnessed the aftermath more than one economic recession and geo-political clashes& crashes – as compared to the older and next generation. Thus they are thoughtful on where, how and how much money to spend. Thus the needs to connect intensifies here

Last but not the least, being well educated makes millennials opinionated, as well, to certain extent. Moreover they like to stand – up for a cause they care for. This sentiment of their, translates to their purchase pattern as well as they want the product and services they use to do the same. Brands are now very aware of how loved or connected they are and what their brand ambassadors would actually mean beyond a day’s commercial TV ads hoardings. Now the reach is as strong as ‘the connect’ that the brand builds with its audience.

Today, brand problems have transformed and evolved, so the brand needs innovative solutions which cannot come from “one solution apply all” - it’s even more a bigger challenge when the consumers are ever evolving. Thus the challenge is to connect with the millennials in a tone that keeps the brand relevant and in sync with the lifestyle pattern attitude of this ever evolving generation in all spheres technically and content wise in every possible way. These challenges induce every brand or urge every brand to create an identity that speaks consistently. The brand with more etched out personalities which millennials can see through all shades of communication and clutter is where the millennials find their connection (Eg in the WhatsApp); a world where clicks define how we live our personal and professional lives and what we consume and how we consume it. Now that we have deliberated on the ‘need to connect with Millennials’ let’s look at some of the means to do so –

  • • Millennials spend an average of 14 hours a day on the internet searching websites, blogs, and social media because they feel enabled by the incredible amount of content they discover. They’re also into sharing, liking, tweeting, forwarding and commenting on all of their discoveries with the online community. Millennials want to engage with authentic brand messages Thus, give them optimised and accurate content as Content marketing plays a vital role in help building trust with your millennial consumers, making quality content essential to reaching this population.
  • • Millennials are a multi-device friendly, tech-savvy generation who are always on the move, which means, websites being mobile friendly is not optional. If millennials are share of your target audience, it’s vital that your brand website is optimized for mobile devices.
  • • As mentioned earlier Millennials value ‘Word Of Mouth’ and thus it important that your brand value is comprehended clearly and a way to do this is constant Reputation management. Reputation Management is thus a process of actively engaging with your community and addressing their grievances in a transparent and timely manner so that your product/ services get a positive review and thereby grow in the long run.
  • • Almost half of millennials are eager on endorsing products or services through social media in exchange for rewards. Millennials prefer to see the word “deal,” as it implies exclusivity and value for money &thus referral program or consumer loyalty Program is a way to their heart…and purse.
  • • Millennials love brands who ‘take a stand to stand-out’. Being socially mindful, charitable and environmentally friendly goes far with them. Almost 55% millennials are keener to buy from a brand if their purchase supports a cause they believe in. Thus it is necessary that for more visibility brands take a stand for a cause.

Now we know how millennials are reshaping the future of marketing as a whole and how a roadmap may be chartered by the brands to marketing to millennials

In case you as a business need any help to determine your Target Audience in sync with your product and services and get your marketing strategies in order, we are here to help. Contact today!