Millennials. Maybe you’ve heard them called the Me Generation. Polls say millennials believe they have the power to make or break brands. And, in fact, they do.
Millennials are around 80 million strong with around $1 trillion in receipts every year, and their spending power is only going to increase. They’re connected to nearly everyone and everything. Never has one generation’s voice been so easily, quickly, and powerfully disseminated.
So how can brands connect in a meaningful way?
When you first think of a millennial, who comes to mind? One of the 46 percent of female millennials who are mothers? The first key to connecting: don’t think of millennials as one homogeneous group. That said, for the scope of this article, we’re going to make some broad characterizations to help you begin thinking about how to target your marketing.
The good news is that millennials aren’t as skeptical of advertising as previous generations. But they have an instinctual understanding of marketing and they’ve got no reservations calling out brands they see as inauthentic. The second key: be genuine, but be sure to stay in your wheelhouse. Even good intentioned marketing that isn’t organic can come off as a marketing ploy.
When NPR asked millennials what advertising they like and don’t like, one respondent singled out a Lipton campaign that used the theme “not half bad.” Why? Because all you hear from so many other brands is how great they are. Lipton was more honest. How refreshing.
Conversely, another NPR-respondent wasn’t impressed with the Mazda campaign that compares its cars to iconic figures like Bruce Lee and Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s a bit of a stretch to compare a redesigned sedan to Jackie Robinson. The third key: subtlety beats unearned grandiosity.
Authenticity and subtlety lead to the fourth key to connecting with millennials: social responsibility. Millennials are three times more likely to spend their money on a socially responsible brand than a luxury brand. They want to know that you’re out there doing some good in the world, and they want to know that you’re doing it for the right reasons, not simply to get more them to buy your product.
If you’re hitting the right note on all of these factors, here’s the fifth key, the key that will help you continue connecting with millennials: don’t berate them. You don’t need to be on all 20 of the most-visited websites and you don’t need to be at every single cultural event. Remember, authenticity is key. Craft compelling, informative content, put it where it makes sense, and you’ll connect.