Though no one can seem to agree upon the exact years that make up the millennial generation, it is typically defined as those born between the mid-1980s to the late 90s or early 2000s. In 2018, these people will be between the ages of 18 and 33 and make up more than 75 million people in the US. A group of that size has incredible buying power that cannot be ignored by marketers. In fact, now is the time to capture millennials as lifelong customers since they are around the age where they are moving out of their parent’s houses and starting families and households of their own.
Since each generation is marked by unique characteristics, marketing strategies should be tailored to the values and interests of the specific age ranges. A marketing strategy that appeals to baby boomers may be completely ignored by millennials. As the generation that grew up with rapid technological advancements, millennials have had virtually unlimited access to TVs, the internet, cell phones, and radio since they were young children. That means they have been bombarded with advertisements possibly since birth in almost every aspect of their lives.
Due to the overwhelming volume of ads that millennials have been exposed to, they have gotten very smart about tuning it all out. For instance, as young children, millennials had the ability to simply switch to a different channel when a commercial came on TV. Where previous generations were subjected to ads, millennials are quick to ignore them. So, how does a marketer go about reaching the significant group of 75 million Americans?
Top 10 ways to market to millennials
- Cut through the noise – Since millennials ignore most of the ads they are exposed to, an ad has to really stand out to be noticed. Generic ads may have worked at one point, but now ads need to be unique. Comedy works well with millennials as well as featuring popular actors and celebrities. Take notes from Tide’s commercial that featured millennial favorite, David Harbour, of the Netflix series, “Stranger Things” that poked fun at generic ads.
- Get personal – Millennials tend to respond well to personalization. As 1 of 75 million people, it’s nice to be called out by name. If your product or service can be personalized in any way, try it out. Even personalizing emails can increase their open rate. Consider Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” campaign in which they printed names on bottles of coke.
- Ask for referrals – The overwhelming majority of millennials report that they trust product recommendations from friends over advertisements. Word of mouth has been and will continue to be a powerful marketing tool, especially for the generation who distrusts ads. Offer incentives for customers who refer their friends similar to Hulu’s referral program that gives out $10 Visa Cards for referrals.
- Get mobile – This should be obvious at this point, but more millennials shop on their phones and mobile devices than desktops. Make sure your ads are optimized for mobile devices so you can reach the millennial generation. However, don’t ignore desktops, as many millennials window shop on mobile, but make final purchases on desktops.
- Offer special deals – It’s true that many millennials will subscribe to emails and follow businesses on social media for the sole purpose of getting a coupon or special deal. Entice millennials with special promotions to convert them into customers. Texting special deals instead of emailing is a great way to cut through the overflow of emails in millennial inboxes.
- Meet them where they’re at – If you really want to reach millennials, you can’t ignore platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and Spotify. The generation spends a lot of time on social media apps, so it is important to advertise there. Don’t waste money advertising in places millennials will never pay attention to. Instead, meet them where they spend their time.
- Be authentic – If there’s something a millennial really appreciates, it’s authenticity. As the generation who is possible the most mistrusting of advertisements, millennials are looking for genuine companies who can be real with them. Instead of dressing up your ads with a lot of “fluff,” get to the facts and the core of the message.
- Support a cause – A marketing tactic that has worked well at gaining millennial support is supporting an outside cause. For instance, purchasing products from TOMS gives shoes to people in other countries. Each product purchased from TOMS supports a different global cause. Millennials like to feel like they are making a difference in the world and supporting a cause is one way to do that.
- Get millennial input – If you’re still having trouble reaching the millennial generation, consider hiring a millennial. Though one person can not speak for 75 million, they will still offer great insights and be more in touch with millennial values. To reach millennials, you have to think like a millennial, and who thinks more like a millennial than an actual millennial?
- Segment further – The best advice when trying to target millennials is to segment further. The fact is, millennials are the most diverse generation yet. The group is made up of various ethnicities, races, and religions. Some are in high school, others are in college, and others are employed full time. The generation is made up of singles, married people, and parents. With 75 million people spanning a 20-year age range, it’s difficult to treat the entire group as one. Reconsider your targeting strategy and see if there is a sub-category of millennials that you are actually trying to reach.
Tips to market to millennials
Marketing to millennials is no easy task since the group is so large and diverse and can easily tune out ads. To reach them, you have to be genuine, cut through the noise, and meet them where they’re at. Trust word of mouth marketing and ask for referrals from current millennial customers. Personalize your content and show millennials that they are helping to support a bigger cause. Offer them special deals and discounts that are sent straight to their cell phones. But most of all, segment millennials into smaller, more manageable groups, and then market to their unique characteristics.