Millenial pictureAh Millennials, the dirty little secret demographic of many marketers and advertisers the world over, for they are the future, as well as being the here and now. They are the digitized demographic. While traditional marketing and advertising techniques have a place at the millennial table, the more digital methods – such as mobile and social — play a larger role in capturing this group’s short attention span.

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In a recent webinar, Kira Sparks at Shoutlet and Tony McRoberts at Social Chorus discussed a case study of the importance of marketing to Millennials. Do you know your generations?

Digital natives see the world differently, and they are more culturally and ethnically diverse than previous generations. Millennials were born between 1982 and 2000 and number about 79 million in the U.S. versus 48 million Generation Xers (born between 1965 and 1980). Millennials have an estimated purchasing power of $170 billion and project to be the largest consumer demographic by 2015. They are uniquely different: they grew up in an era of economic and social instability, have strong parental relationships, are digital natives and quickly reject products and services marketed to them without clear value. They understand crowdsourcing and actively participate when there’s incentive to care.

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Shoutlet did a case study of 500 Millennials 18-24 years old and found these results:

  • 85 percent say sponsored stories make their social media experience worse
  • 95 percent cite friends as the most credible source for product information
  • 91 percent consider purchasing products friends recommend
  • 80 percent purchased a product after an online interaction
  • 98 percent are more willing to engage with friends than brand posts.

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So how do you market to Millennials?  Bring Millenials into the process to make them your advocate. Let Millennials share stories by making it easy, mobile and fun for them.  Millennials won’t promote just any brand – but they will advocate a brand they love. Brands such as Chipolte and Toms have successful programs that harness the power of loyalists.

Marketers need to mine Millennial data to improve marketing. According to the Exactarget blog, “if you really want your content to resonate, address your followers by name as you would in person or email communications. Show your consumers that you value them as individuals and not as a mass market. Consumers share an incredible amount of information publicly—use these data points to understand and connect with your customers on a more meaningful level. Use the data you have on each individual with every communication.”

Generation Z

While the so-called General Free is one critical demographic, it’s not even the most up-and-coming target. Generation Z is another beast:

  • Born after Millennials in the 2000s
  • Connected from birth
  • Beyond tech savvy, technology is critical to how they live and learn
  • Constantly connected to peers, connected globally to knowledge
  • Believe they have strong influence on brands and purchase
  • Shopping online everyday (Thanks to gift cards)

According to Forbes, “going forward, Zs will be looking for products and messaging that reflect their reality, rather than that which depicts a perfect life. More serious storylines and documentaries that highlight complex situations will appeal to them. Entertainment has become darker, with dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories dominating the youth space. Zs are turning to these tales to make sense of their lives and cope with challenges.”

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Whatever the generation and however it’s addressed, it always comes down to relationships. That’s the one constant of marketing. Consumers need, want and deserve a relationship with relevant retailers — a two-way relationship with open lines of communication. When you address their needs, you can call yourself a successful marketer.

What tactics do you use to market to Millennials and Generation Z?

Leave a comment and let us know what’s working for you!

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