Tips on How to Market to Millennials: From Millennials

businessman-573024_1280Social, mobile and digital marketing have been hitting the top of the charts this year as the most effective means of finding and attracting new customers; leaving traditional marketing efforts in the old, timeworn dust of communications. 

Direct mail surprisingly transcends the age demographic. Younger consumers (18-34 year-old demographic) prefer to learn about marketing offers via postal mail, rather than online sources. (Source: ICOM)

Regardless if it is a website, mobile app, social media, online game or what have you; they are all immensely saturated by heaps of propaganda. Those of us in this targeted, upcoming generation who utilize these tools the most have essentially conditioned ourselves to ignore or simply not trust what companies are dumping all of their time, resources and marketing budgets into. Don’t get me wrong, some of it is effective and obtains the ability to catch our ever-multitasking eye, but I would find it fair to say a large majority of these ads are filtered into the “unknown” of the vexed minds of those who are most exposed to this bombardment.

I truly believe the well-educated and experienced marketing minds behind these strategies and initiatives on how to infiltrate the buying patterns of this generation actually know little about it. They identified us by looking through the glass; watching our habits and behaviors, but not actually focusing on our minds, experiences and how we are persuaded to buying into your products. We are a lot smarter than most perceive us. And yes, we love our mobile devices, Internet, social media etc., but that doesn’t mean we make our purchasing decisions based or influenced upon things we use for entertainment.

This generation is stepping into it’s prime spending era. There are characteristics of this new group of individuals that make us exceptionally unique compared to previous generations. Here are a few for example:

  • A bulk of us went to/will go to college
  • We have a lot more debt than past generations (hello student loans)
  • We’ve postponed getting married/having children until we are more financially stable 
  • We experienced a recession
  • We have and 100% utilize the Internet (especially when making a purchase decision)
  • We have access to products and services world-wide, at our fingertips
  • We are extremely diverse
  • We care about causes; what companies stand for, what they support, the environment, personal growth and happiness
  • Quality and cost matters, a lot

The young consumer, or the ever-so-challenging “Millennial”, as it is often referred, is intelligent and well seasoned to the sensory overload of advertisements in today’s world. These particular consumers are also keen on what is spam and what is not, what is a deal and what is just a marketing tactic. (Ex. We all know the celebrity on the infomercial doesn’t likely use the product they are promoting.)

Marketing isn’t as simple as it used to be because the young consumer isn’t easily fooled. We grew up with advertisements invading our favorite TV shows, magazines, billboards, social media and so on. We are truly the first generation to have faced every aspect of our lives being filled with some sort of propaganda.

The goal of this blog was to convey my outlook on this “Millennial” generation and the idea that digital marketing is the way to get us to buy your products. As I began to write I thought, my peers are this generation. I want to know what they think. I want to know what makes them tick. I created a simple survey and posted it to my personal social accounts, inviting individuals in the “Millennial” age range (17ish-33ish) to take it so I could gather a group perspective. Here’s a little insight into the mind of this unpredictable consumer:

Q&A Results:

I received 68 responses total. The ages are as follows: (Click here to view the actual results)

‣16-21…..25% (17)

‣22-27….58.2% (40)         

‣28-32…..5.88% (4)

‣33+…….10.29% (7)

‣ You get a piece of mail from a pizza place. Are you likely to keep it to order from them or to know their hours/specials/menu without having to look it up?

Yes I’ll keep it to have this information when I need it………22.06% (15)

I’ll look at it, but throw it away knowing I’ll look online if I want it……….55.88% (38)

I probably won’t even look at it…………22.06% (15)

Takeaway: Majority will at least look at your mailer, notice who you are and what you are, but won’t keep it. Hey, that’s a start. 

‣ What about an email from that same pizza company?

Yes, I’ll open and keep the email…….10.29% (7)

I’ll look, but I won’t keep it…………….32.35% (22)

I’ll delete it or never open it…………..57.35% (39)

Takeaway: You may attract a little attention, but looking at an email on a screen and physically holding something in your hand is still incomparable  Likely though, you’ll just be deleted. Boom. Gone. 

‣ Are you more likely to open:

A. An email entitled “New Spring Collection from ABC Clothing” and look at it.

B. Receive something in the mail with a photo of new, colorful spring clothes and actually open and look at it.

Takeaway: Mail piece wins, again. I bet you’re a little surprised at this point. It’s harder to hold a visually striking piece of mail in your hand and not at least look at it than it is to hit delete or an “x” in your full inbox. 

‣ Do you pay attention to ads when browsing social media sites?

Yes, I notice them and the product/company
12.31% (8)
Sometimes notice them or the product/company
38.46% (25)
I’ll notice they are there, but won’t pay any attention to what they are
27.69% (18)
I’ve grown to not even notice they are there
21.54% (14)

Takeaway: This one is pretty diverse. You may get noticed, you may not. Likely though, people will notice something is there, but not what that something is or pay any attention to it. 

‣ Which of these options are you likely to do?

Screen Shot 2015-03-23 at 12.52.49 PM

‣ How trustworthy do you find online ads that they are real or not viruses? How trustworthy do you find things that you get in the mail?

‣ Comments: 

“There’s too much risk to waste my time with it.”

“Quality of ad”

“when ads blink that much it just looks sketch”

“I’ve given my fair share of online ads leading to sites a chance and they almost always disappoint. The product is cheap or a scam.”

“My options of such ads are due to careful consumer ratings and reports on websites like Reddit. They have been reported as candid, undisclosing or even as false advertising on links associated with banners on Facebook.”

Takeaway: Online advertising is risky–viruses are a terrifying thing, really.  Things we get in the mail entail no risk to us. 

‣ Do you give companies an email you don’t actually use so you can avoid their junk?

23.88% (16)
23.88% (16)
Sometimes–depends on the company and if I want their stuff or not
52.24% (35)

Takeaway: I asked this because I almost always do this, depending on the company. It looks like others agree. In my opinion, the reasoning behind it is because companies just send too much. If they sent less, I’d be willing to give them an email I actually use. 

‣ Do you find this as “spammy”?

For the next question, I’ll be asking you if you see these things as “spammy” so when I say that, I mean it like…”in the past, the tactics that worked for Internet marketers were ‘in-your-face’ advertisements and spammy e-mails”. Basically, you see it as junk that you don’t want or you find it annoying and unhelpful. 

Takeaway: We think your online efforts are spammy, annoying and we don’t want it. Your mail seems to be a lot less of a bother. 

‣ If you’re looking for something from a store, which would you use the most to least? (Most being 1, least being 3)​

Takeaway: I asked this out of curiosity. Website wins, of course. Mobile app in second, which I agree– they are super user friendly and fast. Catalog last. Could this be because no one ever sends me a catalog anymore? Except Nordstrom, which I ALWAYS look at; whereas, I don’t look at their emails, website, etc. 


So, suggestions?

digital, social, mobileMillennials have a hard time trusting or relating to online, mobile, digital or social advertising. We’ve been told since we were in middle school not to click on things because they are probably a dirty virus. We were kids once, we wanted to believe in the magical advertisements on the TV with products that worked miracles, only to have our dreams crushed by our parents enforcing that the products would never actually work like you saw on the commercial. We’ve been conditioned our entire lives against all of these tactics that used to be successful.

To say it plain and straight–We don’t want your junk and we don’t want to be annoyed.

So how do you grab the attention of this selfie, mobile device obsessed generation? A few things you should consider now that you know a little more about us…

‣ Make it personal. Emotionally relatable, inspirational. Make it fun, creative and humorous. Entertain us, don’t push us. Show us you care about us as people, not as something of monetary value. Keep up with current trends in entertainment, relate your products to things we actually enjoy. Interest me, please.

‣ Market your business itself. We don’t want to know about your 2015 sedan with 5-star safety ratings, we can find all of that out online. We want to know why we should choose your brand. What about your company itself appeals to us? Why should I give your company my money over the competitors that have a similar quality car? Who are you anyway? What do you stand for, who do you stand for? What attributes about your company or products appeal to someone like me?

‣ Make it relatable. Once again, I can find all the facts, figures and places you sell your product online. Teach me new ways I could use this product. Show me how I can use your product to quickly clean up the coffee I spilled all over myself and my car interior while rushing to work. Make it appeal to a diverse group of individuals. Show your product or service helping the sports fanatic athlete, the tattooed artsy hipster, the preppy pastel loving girl. I want to see how others could also use it. I want to know you care about more than just me. I want to see how it can also relate to those outside of my norm.

If you want to appeal to the young consumer, you must make us trust, value and believe in your company. When that is achieved, we will hold you to a higher standard, have faith in your products, feel confident about giving you our hard earned money and most importantly: pay more attention to your ads because we will be seeking further information from you.

The whole reason behind marketing your company or products is to be recognized and remembered. If you want to be remembered, be different. Be new, be exciting and take chances. This generation simply respects those who do something outside of the box, even if it isn’t perfect. We appreciate those who at least try to be different. We like to be entertained, not informed. Unlike past generations, we can inform ourselves through the Internet, so we are looking for more than just vanilla information. 

Trust, legitimacy, the “do good” and a personal approach are the keys to unlocking the mind of this challenging consumer. Align these tips with your marketing goals and target audience and you will find success.