The New Rules of Marketing to Millennials

Here are five guidelines marketers need to keep in mind when recalibrating their strategy to connect with Millennial consumers.

Subscribe TodayUp to this point, there has not existed a more complex generation than Millennials. Not only are they the largest generation by population size, which has tremendous influence on their role as the leading consumers today, but the environment in which they were raised has cultivated an entirely new approach to their values and way of life. These 75 million individuals grew up in an age of technology and global connections — where handwritten letters only exist in romantic movies and kids learned how to navigate an iPod before learning how to tie their shoes.

With this, unlimited access to diverse knowledge, ideas and experiences is made available to them. This is a generation of ideas and personal choice. This independent generation is all about making their own decisions and customizing things to suit their values, needs and desires. When it comes to marketing, Millennials know what they want, and won’t settle for anything falling short of their expectations. Financial institutions are forced to reevaluate their marketing strategies in order to win the attention and loyalty of this generation.

To help organizations recalibrate their strategy when targeting Millennials, a white paper from Michigan-based ad agency Brogan & Partners provides eight guidelines marketers need to keep in mind. Below you’ll find a summary for five of these new Millennial marketing rules.

Don’t Tell Them What Your Product Does, Show Them How It Will Make Them Feel

Millennials are deeply rooted in internal feelings. According to CEB, loyalty, happiness and authenticity are some of the top values of this generation. Their motivation to do things is based on how it will make them feel. And if you haven’t heard of the popular acronym YOLO (You Only Live Once), the modern day “carpe diem,” it does a good job summarizing the values behind decision making in this generation.

This could be a result of the unfortunate economy that Millennials grew up in — an era punctuated by the largest economic decline since the Great Depression, 911 terrorist attacks, increasing concerns of global warming, etc. The uncertainty of their circumstances and future has shaped Millennials to want things that contribute to their happiness. Lacking a sense of security in tomorrow, this generation compensates their feelings of uncertainty and lack of control by pursuing things that make them feel good.

Inspire to Do Good

Millennials to support social issues and causes that they believe in. The release of the 2014 Millennial Impact Report showed that 87% donated money to an organization that supported a cause they were passionate for. This constant exchange of information around the world has raised awareness for issues such as poverty, human trafficking, malnutrition, etc. and encourages this generation to step in to make a difference.

This being said, Millennials are a proactive generation that desires to change the world. So there’s no hesitation when it comes to supporting a product or service that contributes to a greater cause. Companies such as TOMS Shoes and Method Home Products have captured the attention of Millennials through their inspiration to do good. For this generation, it’s no longer just a brand; it can turn into a movement.

( Read More: Building Banking Relationships With Digital Millennials )

Create Something That Can Be Shared

With the Internet and social media playing a huge role in their lives, Millennials are all about social status and sharing their personal information with others. They have a social network that is more than 4 times the size of the typical Gen Xer.

A survey conducted by Annalect found that 47% of Millennials who owned a smart phone discovered brands from someone else following, liking, pinning or tweeting information on social media. This means marketers need to create a positive and shareable brand experience that facilitates social sharing with other consumers. Brands need to give their Millennials a reason to spread the word.

Good Design is Mandatory

Good design has become an expectation for consumers today, particularly Millennials. We live in an era dominated with visual input and stimulation, which (in part) helps explain why Millennials are so gaga for social media. For example, Instagram and Pinterest — two of the fastest-growing social networks — are visually-based. There are also a plethora of video-streaming services, from YouTube and Vine to Netflix.

Simply put, if your product doesn’t make a good first impression, Millennials will most likely not think to look twice and may quickly move on to the next aesthetically pleasing thing that grabs their attention. And there’s more to design than you might think. Yes, your advertising and marketing materials need to be well-designed, but so does the experience.

Don’t Compromise Who You Are

While it’s important for brands to find ways to connect with Millennials, it’s even more important for brands to know their identity and to never compromise it. Branding experts like to roll this up under the umbrella of “brand authenticity” — knowing what your organization stands for, understanding who you truly are, and walking your talk. Yes, you should work hard to reach Millennials, but don’t depart from your overarching brand values in the process. You can’t pander and appease this generation.

Millennials are known to be a generation that don’t want to “fit the mold.” This is a generation of individuality and personal choice. So just like Millennials do every day, brands need to be confident of their identity and own up to who they are. Millennials value brands that stay true to their identity. Don’t stretch too far to position your brand as something it’s not.

In short, don’t be a poser.

Download the White Paper

You can download the entire white paper, “8 Rules of Marketing to Millennials,” from the Brogan & Partners website by clicking here. The 24-page PDF includes a number of interesting examples and micro-case studies.

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