How To Successfully Market to Today’s Younger Generation

If there’s one thing that the Millennial generation is good at, it’s breaking with tradition. The Millennials—those born between 1984 and 2004—are the first generation to have grown up entirely in the Internet era. Unlike their predecessors, these young adults are comfortable with apps, smartphones, social media, and other gadgets that the older generations once viewed as Star Trek technology.

Marketing to millennials

In addition, this generation takes an entirely new approach to life. Gone are the days of cubicle jobs. Now, Gen Yers prefer to work at startups, in virtual workplaces or as freelancers. This is also the most highly-educated generation yet: 61% of them have gone to college.

Aside: Set up your analytics to check what percentage of your clients are millennials.

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With this shift away from traditional lifestyles, the Millennials’ attitude towards consumerism, employers and life in general is entirely different. If you want to market towards today’s younger generation, then you’ll need to break with a few traditions of your own.

Here’s how to successfully market to today’s younger generation:

Mobile is Key When Marketing to Millennials

According to Nielsen, 85% of all Millennials own smartphones—and as of January 2015, mobile internet use exceeded desktop internet use for the first time in history. This means that not only is a mobile marketing strategy essential, but web pages should be optimized for mobile displays, graphics need to load quickly, and the key elements – like calls to action – should be clear and easy to read on smaller screens.

App-Based Marketing Strategies

Web browsing is only half of the mobile equation. You should also include apps in your mobile marketing strategy, considering that 80% of mobile device time is spent on apps. App-based marketing doesn’t necessarily mean building your own; instead, use services like Google AdMob to create ads that appear on third-party apps.

Look for other innovative ways to connect with app users, too. For instance, Brian Wong’s mobile advertising company Kiip can help you develop an in-app rewards system to engage with your market. You reward users on the apps they already use with freebies or discounts, which puts your brand front and center, creates a positive association, and drives people to your own website.

Target Non-Traditional Demographics

In the past, one popular way to market towards different demographics was to group people by age or milestone. Traditional milestones include things like school graduation, getting married, buying a house, and having a baby.

But traditional lifecycle marketing won’t work for Millennials because this innovative group is generally uninterested in tradition, choosing instead to forge ahead on new paths that resonate more personally with them. When it comes to marriage and homeownership, 38% of Millennials say that they will put off a getting married and starting a family so that they can establish a career and buy a home first. So ads that are directed towards these traditional demographics are largely ineffective.

Rather than focusing on age groups or important milestones, look for other demographics. Many Millennials have social causes that they are passionate about, others are small business owners or entrepreneurs, and still more prefer a creative, freelance lifestyle.

Speak Their Language

Along the same lines as targeting non-traditional demographics, to resonate with Millennials you must speak their language – and they do have their own language. Every generation has its own lingo and traits, and they can’t help but be interested – and comfortable – when they hear what sounds like a conversation with their peers.

For example, Taco Bell features a successful “Millennial Word of the Week” strategy which is sent out in an e-mail from a group of 20-something employees. By speaking to its young consumers in a relatable way—such as using the term “on fleek,” which means “on point”— they automatically capture their attention. Speaking the Millennial language is no substitute for having a great product or service, of course, but it’ll open the door, so to speak, to your online store.

Outbound Rather Than Inbound Marketing

Millennials loathe advertising. An overwhelming 84% say that they do not like ads, while only 1% say that they would be influenced by an advertisement. This means that the traditional outbound tactics – things like commercials, magazine ads or direct mail advertising – are becoming less effective each year.

With outbound on the outs, modern marketers need to place more emphasis on inbound strategies. If you’re selling a revolutionary new cleaning product, for example, create fun video tutorials that demonstrate how your product makes life easier for the average young person. Or publish well-written blog posts or colorful infographics filled with actionable cleaning tips.

Always Be Authentic, Especially on Social Media

Keep in mind that your content needs to be authentic because 43% of Millennials say that authenticity wins by a landslide when it comes to the content they read or view. They have to trust a brand first, so your blog posts shouldn’t be all about pitching your products. Produce genuinely helpful information related to your particular niche so that Millennials can build a relationship with you and not just your fancy logo.

Today’s young shoppers are generally inspired by their peers or people with similar attitudes who post genuine testimonials on websites or social media. They trust this real and relevant social proof over a company’s advertisements so much that 84 percent of Millennials say user-generated content influences their purchases (PDF), and 73 percent say they always read peer reviews before buying something.

Make it Easy for Young People to Buy Online

Millennials spend more money online than any other age group even though they make less money than previous generations. This means that even the best marketing strategies won’t help your sales unless you make it easy for people to buy your products online. Here’s how to make it easy:

  • Ensure that your online catalogue is up to date, easy to navigate, and has responsive design.
  • Give customers the option to pay online with multiple forms of payment (PayPal, credit cards, bitcoins).
  • Information about shipping, taxes, surcharges and discounts needs to be absolutely clear up front – a negative surprise at checkout is the best way to lose a customer!
  • Offer coupons. Because Millennials are college educated, this means that have large student loans. As a result, 90 percent of Gen Y’ers use discount coupons when shopping, and 60 percent report sharing these online coupons with their peers.

The Millennial generation is a diverse and discerning group, which means you’ll have to work hard to understand them and capture their attention. Make it easy for them to research and purchase your product, and show them why it’s relevant to them. Connect to this savvy and creative group in more personal and engaging ways, and above all else, be transparent. If you market to the Millennials in a way that makes sense to them, they’ll keep coming back.

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