Start with this: you already know what doesn’t work. That list includes just about every arrow in the quiver of the traditional marketer, from print and television ads to banner ads on the web (that, let’s say, they have never actually clicked on) and pretty much every other intrusive plea for attention among the thousands of pleas Millenials have been subjected to each day of their lives.
Water off a duck’s back. Millenials – those between the ages of 21 and 34 – are the first generation of true digital natives, and growing up awash in marketing ploys has made them largely immune to advertising messages. In fact, there are studies that show that only one percent of Millenial consumers put any stock at all in advertisements when making buying decisions.
That means 99 percent aren’t buying the spin
For marketers, that makes them a tough demographic to reach, and that’s bad news because they also are an increasingly important demographic. They predominate in the workforce and at the ballot box, and are a prize catch for just about any brand.
But how do you engage consumers who don’t believe in ads but do believe in online ad blockers and TIVO?
You get real. That’s the short answer from marketers who are solving the puzzle, like Yifat Mor, Vice President for Marketing at nanorep, an industry leader in guiding the digital experience. Marketing to millenial generation consumers isn’t about trying to spin your brand or product like the characters on “Madmen” might have done in another generation, she says.
Above all, Millenials require authenticity, and they expect to really get to know the story and the people behind the brand, through the social media channels that are their natural environment. The message you need to send has to be about their interests, rather than your own pocketbook, and it has to speak to the distinctive traits Millenials are known for.
So what makes a Millenial unique?
One huge differentiator is Millenials not only grew up in the digital world, but they are immersed in it in every aspect of their daily lives. That means that the information they actually do use in making buying decisions is far more likely to come from sharing with friends and peers on social media – and engaging with brands on those platforms – than from any more traditional advertising gimmick you might throw at them.
Instead, they are sharing their experiences with your brand (for better or worse) on Facebook and Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Generations of marketers have dreamt of word-of-mouth advertising that can propel success, but the ways Millenials navigate the digital world make that sharing a cornerstone of brand engagement.
That matters a lot in online commerce, because no generation spends as much time or money online, or depends as much on online research when shopping. On average, a Millenial will spend $2,000 more online over the course of a year than a member of any other generation, according to nanorep.
At the same time, as a generation Millenials bring a strong sense of social responsibility to their shopping, and they look for the same in the businesses they deal with. That can mean a commitment to fair trade practices, sound environmental policies, or another expression of the knowledge that good citizenship is good business, but for Millenials it is one more important aspect of authenticity.
And authenticity is a two-way street
As much as Millenials want to get to know you when they meet up with your brand online, they expect for you to get to know them personally. In fact, they demand it. As the most knowledgeable of digital denizens, they know full-well that technology makes it possible for businesses to recognize and treat them as individuals, and that’s where they set the bar.
For marketers hoping to win their business and their loyalty, that’s the bottom line.