We like to write to someone particular when we’re writing marketing materials. We do research and develop one or more personas. We don’t like to overgeneralize. That said, we also respect data, and there is some interesting data out there on Millenials, the demographic group that is currently graduating from college and heading into the work world.
In the interests of full disclosure, I’d like to point out that our team at Haden Interactive is pretty evenly divided between Millennials and non-Millennials (both Baby Boomers and GenX). Our Millennials aren’t wild about what they perceive as stereotyping of Millennials. Even so, the research is intriguing, and there’s a new book out that sums up many of the most actionable points being made.
Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever by Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton has some insights from extensive research on Americans born between 1977 and 1995.
They’ve developed a list of characteristics that describe Millennials as consumers:
- They’re price sensitive but they’re also value conscious, not simply thrifty.
- They’re not especially brand loyal — they can be passionate fans, but they’re also quick to jump ship.
- They want to make a positive impact impact on the world, and they’ll support companies that do the same.
- Technology is basic to their lives, not something exciting and novel.
- They expect to be recognized and rewarded… for pretty much everything.
- They shop with friends, online as much as in the physical world.
- They think shopping should be fun, and they like game elements in every area of life.
The lessons for brands and retailers are pretty clear. What about websites in particular?
Fromm and Garton have some conclusions to offer for online marketing:
- “Good content is key.” Well, yes, good content is always key. The authors contend, however, that Millennials won’t overlook a lack of engaging online content just because they like your brand, as other demographics might. They expect you to have a good website, to engage them with your social media, and to provide entertaining and informative experiences across platforms.
- “Strive for content excellence.” The authors seem to be repeating themselves, but they’re actually saying that a really attractive ad or catchy jingle is no longer enough. Millennials want consistent messages from your website to YouTube to Facebook to your app to their local store. They also want to be invited into the conversation about your brand. This is the omnichannel experience you’ve been hearing about. Millennials don’t care what medium is being used — they want to have access to the content on any device they have handy.
- “Engage Millennials in everything you do.” Millennials share pictures of their dog eating your pet treats not because they want to make you feel good but because it makes them feel good. They care what people think of them and like to be recognized even for small things like buying cool dog treats. This is the generation that went to school during the great self esteem boom, and they are used to being praised for being special, just because they are. The authors suggest that Millennials tend to think of themselves as celebrities.
We think this means that websites and online campaigns intended for this demographic should strive not only for excellent content, but also for a playful aspect, preferably with prizes (virtual or IRL) and recognition for participation. Personalization, game elements, crowdsourcing, and strong social integration all seem like elements to include for this target market. A seamless omnichannel experience goes without saying.