If you are in the generation born from 1977 to 1995, you are a millennial. If you were born before 1977, you better pay attention. Millennials are 80 million strong and represent 25% of the U.S. population and more than $200 billion in annual purchasing power. According to Jeff Fromm, VP of EVP Barkley and millennial expert, “This generation that has more wealth than any generation in history.”
If millennials aren’t your current target market, it wont be long before they will be. So how do you reach young consumers? Traditional methods have been found ineffective. Businesses that want to grow much engage this market, interact with them, and listen to what they have to say. So where should businesses invest to connect with this generation? These are the most effective places to begin:
1. Invest in your brand
Brand your business so the public is shown a clear and consistent message. It is not enough to have a recognizable logo. Millennials want to identify with your company logo. Your brand will be your corporate face- it must be relevant, accessible, and consistent over all medial platforms. If your company had a personality, what would it be? Is that personality consistently shown throughout your business and media platforms? This generation gets a lot of messages and you want to make yours stand out from the noise. Investing in brand management is the most cost effective investment a company can make to reach out to millennials. If you spend money on great technology, but have an inconsistent or unappealing image, your investment can backfire. The goal is to brand yourself so that the public will want to interact with you.
2. Invest in a multiple platform presence
This is not only the wealthiest generation; it is also the most technologically advanced. The very idea of communication has been redefined for those under thirty. The rise of digital technology has spurred dramatic and rapid changes in the way business is done. It’s just not enough to “have a website” or even a Facebook account. Interaction has moved from one central area to numerous platforms. These create an omnipresence of messages and ways to interact. In can become overwhelming. So what do you do? First, if you have a Facebook page, twitter, Pinterest account make sure you use these effectively, keeping in mind your branding. If a millennial tweets about a product, tweet back. If they post a message on Facebook about a problem with your company, give a response. Not just a canned “thanks for your feedback.”
A key investment would be a mobile application. The rise of smartphones will keep your company easily accessible. When it comes to shopping, successful companies are creating seamless transitions between in-store, online, mobile shopping and order online/pick-up-at- store transactions. Remember, you want to create value with millennials so just having an app isn’t enough. You want an application that people want to come to again and again. Do your research before you invest in designing your app and as always, remember your branding.
3. Invest in key influencers
Millennials believe they can influence the purchases of their peers, and they do. They will share their opinion on product value, development and customer service, asking their feedback on your products or even their input on your product design. There are key influences who lead the trend- their opinions affect the purchasing decisions of their followers. A negative review from someone on Yelp, Twitter or YouTube could sink sales if they have hundreds or even thousands of followers. A good review or viral video could make a new company an overnight sensation. Businesses must make and retain relationships with key influencers. Spend some of your advertising budget to reach out to these influencers by offering them company tours or free samples of your products. Ask for honest feedback; don’t bribe them for “good reviews”. Millennials value authenticity in reviews and company’s responses. They expect a personal connection with companies. Millennials “want to co-create the products and services they buy,” Fromm said. “They actually derive value from participating in the journey.”
Overall, the influence of new media on younger shoppers is much higher than on the average shopper. Savvy companies that invest in these consumers and convey a consistent message will benefit from increased and ongoing success.
Photo credit: Flickr user Ding Yuin Shan. Used with permission through Creative Commons.