Millennials, aged 18-34 in 2015, represent 25 percent of consumers in the U.S. and hold more than $200 billion in buying power. Despite that, they’re largely misunderstood by marketing executives. How can brands target Millennials and convert them into passionate advocates? Some companies have not even started to approach the question.
Millennials consume more content across more channels than any other market segment that has ever existed. It might seem like getting and holding their attention is a virtually impossible task. Instead of looking to the clouds for a “silver bullet” for Millennial appeal, however, marketers are wise to start with the fundamentals.
Consistency is Key with Millennial Consumers
A report from respected market research firm SDL revealed 60 percent of Millennials asked expect a consistent brand experience whether they are online, on the phone or in the store. The majority of Millennials surveyed interact with their phones more than 40 times daily –- and about a third of them interact with more than four devices.
That translates to thousands of opportunities to interact with a brand over the course of a year, yet Millennials see no fundamental change to their expectation for different customer touch-points. What does this tell us? Every aspect of branding, from the most fundamental on down, must add up to a cohesive identity 100 percent of the time.
Unified branding is crucial to win trust among the Millennial set. Across the whole range of face-to-face and electronic interactions, they expect consistent colors, designs, motifs and approaches. Every aspect of branding must be “on message” to conform to expectations. Even minor inconsistencies can go viral and damage a brand.
Simplicity Helps Raise Your Signal-to-Noise Ratio
As Millennials have expanded the time they spend online, Web designers have rushed to create optimized spaces for mobile device users — and businesses have rushed to fill those spaces with advertising. As a result, Millennials may see hundreds more marketing messages per day than older consumers who are more focused on traditional media.
Millennials also switch attention frequently. Remember that figure above, with about a third of Millennials surveyed using four electronic devices per day? Some of that usage is simultaneous! Research by Forbes suggested that Millennials switch attention from one device to another an average of 27 times per hour.
How can you capture and harness such fleeting attention? The answer is simplicity.
A brand’s visual and communication style should both be straightforward, every message distilled to its essence. When planning corporate communication, brand champions would do well to remember that newspapers, those fast-fading media behemoths, have usually been written at an 11th-grade level. Brand content should be just as accessible!
To Generate ROI from Millennials, Exceed Their Expectations
Many Millennials have grown up with high expectations of the brands they interact with. For example, most wish to do business only or mainly with brands that do not contravene their personal values. When they have a problem with a product or service, they expect immediate escalation and resolution. The “letter of complaint” is virtually unknown.
This might make it seem like Millennials are tough customers. Maximizing the lifetime value of a Millennial customer can be difficult, but positive experiences with brands can also make a much bigger impact. Just over half of Millennials in a recent survey had more than 300 Facebook friends; when one Millennial is impressed, that whole network can be impacted.
How to impress them? Let’s look at some other figures:
— Half of Millennials will return to brands that they trust;
— More than 35 percent will make a purchase to support a cause;
— 56 percent will switch brands for a good deal.
Thanks to Millennials’ social clout and focus on meaningful interactions, brands should look to micro-targeted offers and incentives to win their hearts. A deal, giveaway or event showing deep knowledge of a Millennial’s buying preferences will not only improve their assessment of a brand, but can be the catalyst for dozens or hundreds of visits from their friends.
The Time to Act on the Millennial Market is Now
Someday very soon, the millennial market will be the biggest force in the U.S. economy, displacing the Baby Boomers and reigning for decades to come. Millennials will make up half the workforce by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025. To prosper in the future, marketers need to get in position for lasting, meaningful relationships with this segment today.
Being mindful of the increased content consumption of Millennials is only the start: Brands must also align with their emerging identity as a consumer bloc. That means consistency, simplicity and an implicit guarantee your brand is committed to exceed their expectations — now and in the future. With that approach, lifetime customer loyalty is possible.
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