Generations do not inherently have labels. In a recent conversation with a “Baby Boomer” she lamented being grouped in that title. Born in 1957, she saw her older sister (born in ‘47) as being the one truly conceived in that post-WWII celebration: the era that led to more babies being born in a single year than ever before. Their personalities couldn’t have been more different.
But generational titles quickly became a useful part of marketing strategies, and are not about personality.
While my friend’s generation may be huge, with as many as 81 million members, Millennials are slightly larger in number: 83.1 million. Combined with Gen X, this past election marked a turning point. There were more young voters than older voters. But Millennials are doing more than electing representatives. They are owning homes, holding jobs, having children, and spending in new ways.
Brands are getting smart and marketing to millennials. Here’s why and how.
Wonder-Marketing, a Super Power
When Revlon announced using Gal Gadot as their newest ambassador, it seemed like a natural fit. There’s no denying the Wonder Woman star’s incredible beauty. But Revlon’s aim may be a little broader than superhero fans. They were aiming for Millennials.
Over at Coca-Cola, one of the most iconic and largest brands in the world, a new Diet Coke campaign has begun. Rafael Acevedo, Coca-Cola North America’s group director for Diet Coke says they are “modernizing what has made Diet Coke so special for a new generation.” Their optional Dasani-style skinny can and new flavors hope to satisfy the thirst of those born after 1980 and before 2000.
So why all the strategic marketing aimed at a group that might only have just graduated high school, that National Public Radio (NPR) once called, “Educated and Jobless”? Longevity, most likely. Reaching a younger audience means gaining a loyal, lasting audience: one with more members than any generation before them.
If you haven’t yet decided that marketing to Millennials matters, take a page from the books of big brands like Diet Coke and Revlon and turn the spotlight onto Gen Y.
Strategies that Work, Not Shots in the Dark
Since I’ve ridden that generational cusp between the MTV generation and Gen Y (alternate names for Gen X and Millennials, respectively), I fully understand the inherent difficulty in grouping an entire section of society into a category.
Yet certain traits of this age group can provide insight into effective marketing strategies:
- They are the most educated generation in history – While still a minority, about 40% of millennials got at least a bachelor’s degree (or are on-track to do so). Many of them did so with astronomical levels of debt and, then, entered a sluggish economy. However, as a whole, they tend to not take data at face value and do their own research, having been educated to do so.
- They are less likely to marry young – They’ve faced some criticism for being “late bloomers.” The delays in age for marrying and having children may be contributing to lower divorce rates and greater gender equality than generations before.
- They are the most diverse generation in history – 43% of Millennials are non-white, the most of any American generation. As a whole, they value both gender and racial equality.
- They have been raised with technology – While older Millennials may remember life before the internet, most will hardly recall life before smartphones. Technology has saturated their lives completely.
These key traits may be helpful in understanding the mindset of this group of young adults. They value their diversity, they use social media to advocate for social change, and they are often fiercely independent.
The brands which truly “get it” see the marketing strategy benefits in:
- Transparency–being authentic and real, not perfect or phony.
- Reachable–communicating across platforms, having quick replies, and engaging consumers in the process.
- Mission-driven–having a purpose to empower, improve or transform the world.
Know Who They Are and Who You Are
Since Millennials value transparency, it’s important to be seen as approachable, but not pandering. It doesn’t require a complete transformation of brand identity to reach this audience. A good brand analysis, though, will identify what it is about your company that does and will speak to Millennials in a way that is true to who you are.
If you’re ready to expand your brand and reach a broader audience, let us show you how.