It’s important to begin this article by stating that the title is a little misleading. We’re not preparing for a future where millennials are a key consumer demographic for many businesses. They already are and will increasingly dictate how marketers engage them. Marketing to millennials is a new ballgame, and it’s important to understand why and how to succeed at it.
Millennials are moving into decision-making positions in many companies, and as marketers, we must adapt to their unique needs, tendencies, and buying behaviors. Much of the difference between millennials and their predecessors revolves around the prevalence of technology and millennials’ comfort level and familiarity with it.
Sabrina Wilson, who drives marketing outreach and content for Organic Daily Post, summed it up perfectly when she told Forbes:
“Millennials grew up with mobile technology, and they are empowered by being connected to multiple devices that have access to the internet. This has induced a profound impact on marketing requirements, where I’m forced to constantly remain in contact and provide continuous support by aligning my marketing strategy with current trends.”
To adapt alongside the evolving marketing landscape driven by millennials, it’s important to understand how they are changing the playing field and what you can do to accommodate those changes.
Below we cover key ways in which millennials are changing marketers’ approach, and tips for adapting your strategy and realizing success when marketing to millennials.
7 changes to expect and tips for marketing to millennials
Here, we’ll cover key changes to expect and tips for embracing those changes and effectively evolving your strategy for marketing to millennials.
1. They will become America’s largest generation in 2019
Baby boomers have long been the largest consumer demographic in the US. That will no longer be the case next year, as millennials are set to overtake them. Millennials have different expectations and buying behaviors that marketers need to take into consideration.
Tips to embrace this change: Get to know millennials and their needs, interests, goals, etc. You can do this through traditional research methods. But you’ll get more accurate data to inform your strategy if you send an online survey to all your millennial clients and collate their feedback.
2. They have grown up with technology and are very tech savvy
Unlike previous generations who used landlines to make calls and atlases to provide directions, millennials have grown up with technology in-hand.
They are quite tech-savvy, and most carry a mobile device everywhere they go. This poses a unique opportunity for digital marketers to engage them on new digital channels.
Tips to embrace this change: Because they carry smartphones everywhere they go, they are always reachable. Social media is a great place to engage millennials as most check their accounts daily. Be sure that you maintain a robust social media presence and ensure that your website, content, and emails are always mobile responsive.
3. They expect more from businesses
Competition has blown up in recent years, in nearly every industry. With the internet and other technological advances, it’s easier than ever to start a business. This has led to an excess of competition, which has raised the bar for many industries to deliver superior products and a stellar customer experience. That, in turn, has planted heightened expectations in millennial consumers.
Tips to embrace this change: Deliver a stellar customer experience. Millennials will pay more for a better customer experience—it is overtaking price and product as the determining factor in millennials’ purchase decisions. Also, be highly responsive when they reach out because they expect a response in much less time than their predecessors.
4. It’s easier than ever for them to leave you for a competitor
All that competition also means that consumers can easily leave you for a competitor if you’re not meeting their needs. If you don’t maintain satisfied customers, they will look for a vendor that does.
Tips to embrace this change: Focus heavily on delivering a world-class customer experience. Stay in constant contact with your customers, checking in routinely to ensure they have everything they need. And make customer satisfaction a priority because low levels of customer satisfaction can kill a business in a flash. Learn how to maintain world-class customer satisfaction levels.
5. They are more socially and environmentally conscious
Millennials have grown up in the era of global warming concerns, growing wealth discrepancies, and a host of additional social issues emerging around the world. They are more sensitive to these issues than previous generations.
Millennials take a company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts into account when making a purchase decision. Companies that show the market that they dedicate themselves to giving back to the communities they serve and support altruistic causes have an edge over their competition and will continue to do so. As millennials age, CSR will become increasingly important to the survival of your business.
Tips to embrace this change: Create employee engagement initiatives such as employee volunteer events or matching gifts programs. Donate to local charities. Calculate the impact of your altruism and share it with the market. Millennials will take notice, and your brand reputation will quickly improve.
6. They share more on social media
Millennials place lots of trust in brand recommendations they read from peers, colleagues, and friends on social media. If they have a bad experience with your company, they won’t hesitate to share it with the world.
Also, when they have a positive experience, they share that as well, which amounts to free word-of-mouth advertising, increases brand exposure, and improves your brand reputation.
Tips to embrace this change: Use social listening and monitoring tools to alert you in real time when someone mentions your brand on social media. Then respond as soon as possible to thank them for sharing, comment on their post, or engage them in any way that makes sense.
7. They don’t respond well to irrelevant ads and messaging
Companies like Netflix and Amazon that excel at personalized marketing have changed the game. You navigate to Amazon’s site, and you’ll see ads for products you’ve viewed in the past. Netflix will display recommendations based on your viewing history.
They are personalizing the experience so that what consumers see is relevant to their needs and interests. And with so many companies doing it, millennials have come to expect personalized interactions and can be easily turned off by irrelevant ads and messaging.
Tips to embrace this change: Use a customer relationship management (CRM) solution with 360-degree contact views so that you can gain maximum insight into individual customers and personalize your outreach in a way that touches on common ground.
And most importantly, embrace personalization in your marketing efforts. Marketing to millennials needs to be personalized. Succeeding at personalized marketing requires various tactics and knowledge—more than we can cover here. So, check out this article to learn more about personalization in marketing.
Consumer behaviors, interests, and buying patterns are changing and will continue to evolve as new generations grow up, enter the workplace, and become active consumers.
Marketers must always understand their audience and adapt their strategy to embrace emerging trends and understand the constantly shifting factors that determine buying behavior.
Today, our focus is on millennials. Follow the tips above, and you will successfully adapt to changing times and continue to grow your business over the long term.