While baby boomers have always received most of the attention, there’s another group that’s just as large—and entering its prime purchasing years. Yes, I’m talking about millennials. Born between 1980 and 2000, this generation has been labeled as lazy, spoiled, cynical and materialistic. Perhaps a few (or maybe most) of these labels apply, but millennials are also something else: a powerful force that’s expected to spend an eye-popping $1.4 trillion annually by 2020. That’s roughly 30% of all retail sales. Perhaps that’s why more and more businesses are falling all over themselves to connect with this notoriously hard-to-reach audience.
While selling effectively to millennials is incredibly challenging, it’s not impossible. Let’s take a quick look at three of the marketing trends that successful companies are tapping into to reach millennials.
Peer-to-Peer Is What Matters
Quite simply, millennials don’t want to hear from a business, they want to hear from its customers. This may be rough news for companies that are heavily invested in traditional advertising, but it’s music to the ears of organizations with robust social media communities. Platforms like Instagram and YouTube are ideal for transforming current customers into brand advocates—and building online influence. These platforms offer an effective, “real” way to show your products in action—something the vast majority of millennials believe is the best way to determine a brand’s quality level.
Looking Out For the World
Earlier, we covered a few of the negative perceptions of millennials. How about an attribute that’s extremely positive? Millennials are perhaps the most socially conscious generation and they have a strong desire to make the world a better place—specifically when it comes to equal rights, the environment, and access to healthcare. The numbers bear this out: Approximately 75 percent of millennials believe companies are not committed enough to improving society. Businesses that step up—whether it’s partnering with charitable organizations, donating to charities, or providing products to those in need—will give themselves a significant edge on corporations that insist on sticking to an old-school, “look-out-for-number-one” approach.
Mobile: First, Last—and Always
While many of us are never far from our phones, millennials take it to a whole different level, with more than 95 percent having a smartphone. This eye-opening stat makes it clear that mobile needs to be more than simply a part of any marketing strategy—it needs to be front and center. With smartphones serving as the primary gateway that millennials use to reach the Internet, everything you do needs to be optimized for every device.
To help ensure your marketing is mobile-friendly, it’s critical to focus on a few things. First, website load times should be less than three seconds. Anything longer and the abandonment rate will quickly climb. Second, mobile optimization is key. Before customers ever reach a brick-and-mortar location, there’s an excellent chance they’ll try to find it first on their smartphones. If a business isn’t showing up properly in search results, plenty of would-be customers will simply head somewhere else. And let’s not overlook the importance of mobile ecommerce apps, since 78 percent of millennials say they are comfortable using mobile shopping apps.
Hopefully, this information helps to demystify millennials. They’re not jaded selfie takers who still live with their parents and think the world revolves around them. Rather, they’re a highly influential generation that knows what it wants—and how it wants it.
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