Marketing to Millennials

Evolving From the Brady Bunch to Modern Family

I’ll admit, it had been a while since I last attended a Columbus AMA event. Yes, it’s hard to force yourself to get out of the office, but it’s always a good investment in your personal brand to stay as informed and relevant as possible. The topic of the most recent lunch event, Marketing to Millennials, caught my eye so I decided to attend. I’m so glad I did.

The speaker, Jeff Fromm, delivered an interesting mix of insights, humor and executional examples derived from his research and documented in his book, Marketing to Millennials.

We hear all about “the Millennial generation” and the opportunities and challenges in engaging these digital natives. This isn’t just an age group for whom Wi-Fi falls on their Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It’s a mindset and this is a critical difference that we must understand in order to engage with them.

Jeff touched on the importance of “millennial brand love,” and the importance of staying fresh and relevant to this audience. If you don’t, they’ll move on. Think about it – they grew up in a time when their choices have been tremendous. Just look at the number of media outlets today vs. twenty years ago.

A good speaker engages you with relatable information but also shares insights and information that is helpful and relevant to your everyday work. I found his list of “millennial love drivers” to be useful and worth sharing. Here you go:

  1. Don’t tell me you’re the best. I’ll find out on my own.” This is so important because this market segment was raised learning how to seek out, find and share information. Gone are the days of the passive consumer. Welcome to a generation raised with a multitude of choices.
  2. I look for a brand that provide experiences and adventure.” Look at the rise of the craft beer movement, for example. Millennials want interesting, authentic experiences and are willing to embrace their inner desire for discovery of new things. Here’s an example of how Heineken successfully engaged Millennials.
  3. I believe in brands that believe in ideas.” Millennials want to change the world. How does your brand help them fulfill that goal?
  4. I engage with brands that treat content as fuel.” We’ve talked about this extensively throughout our agency. And you hear a lot about snackable content. One of the newer platforms for such content is Snapchat Discover. Think small, tasty morsels of easy-to-digest information that’s relevant to daily life. Content leads to relationships. Relationships lead to loyalty. Coke did a fantastic video about content – check it out if you haven’t already.
  5. We’re in this together for now.” It used to be that the purchase path was linear. Not anymore. It’s far more circular now. Share>discover>explore>purchase>share. You get the gist. And it’s not just about the functional and emotional benefits but the participative benefits as well.
  6. We see authenticity through transparency.” This mindset of this group is to be open and honest. And for me as a parent, sometimes I see Millennials being way more open and honest than I think they should be. But we can leverage this data and insights to personalized the content we serve up.
  7. Say what you want but you have to prove it.” Millennials want to be involved in the co-creation of content. We’re experiencing an evolution from story telling to story living. They want to be part of your story. And when it comes to proving yourself, think about phenomenally successful brands like Chipotle. When they ran out of carnitas, they told people the real story behind why. It’s because they couldn’t realistically live up to their mission: Food With Integrity, so they let people know. This goes a long way in building trust.
  8. Your story may be interesting but if it doesn’t include me, it won’t be our story.” Brands need to stop forcing features and benefits. Engineer more sharing moments and the Millennials will follow. Millennials are adept at filtering out information and consuming information on their terms. Make it easy for them.
  9. Always be innovating because we are.” Brands that have worked hard to meet the needs of Millennials are better positioned for success, like Uber, Craigslist, Airbnb and TaskRabbit. And the lifehacks you often see on social media – these resonate well with this mindset.

What brands do you think do a good job of connecting with Millennials? Which reflect one or more of the variables that contribute to brand love – uniqueness, meaningfulness, innovation and authenticity?

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