The potential for brands to grow by tapping the potential of Millennials is too significant to ignore but, it seems, all too-often untapped.
Meeting-after-meeting, no matter who the client is — from leading CPG brands through Not-For-Profits — we hear marketers and communicators opine that Millennials lack brand loyalty and are mistrustful of advertising. This generation, they say, is the cheapest generation ever. They don’t buy the same things at the same times as their parents or grandparents. They live “downtown” and maintain mobility by renting rather than putting down roots and investing in a suburban home. They’re concerned with social issues and the environment as much as making money and the economy.
If Baby Boomers are the greatest generation, it seems that Millennials are the great marketing mystery. The truth of the matter, however, is that Millennials shouldn’t be such a mystery and, if brands want to flourish over the next 30+ years, they will have to connect with this group, now virtually equal in size to the vaunted Boomer counterpoint.
So… how can brands connect with Millennials? To effectively communicate with (not to) Millennials you must start by understanding them. Start by recognizing that they are not their parents or grandparents, and shouldn’t be approached as such. This, after all, is the generation that grew up along with the internet and ushered in the maturation of social media. In its exquisitely detailed Millennial Report, The Nielsen Company shares this description:
“Millennials may be many things, but they may not be what you expect. Millennials are the social generation. They’re the founders of the social media movement—constantly connected to their social circles via online and mobile. They prefer to live in dense, diverse urban villages where social interaction is just outside their front doors. They value authenticity and creativity, and they buy local goods made by members of their communities. They care about their families, friends and philanthropic causes. But they’re also coming of age in the most dire economic climate since the Great Depression–making their families, communities and social networks even more valuable as they band together.”
So… how can brands connect with Millennials? At Strategic Objectives, we strive to deliver award winning strategies that do just that — so you can always give us a call. We’d be thrilled to help you develop a BIG, CREATIVE Social PR concept to increase brand equity with Millennials.
To begin however, here are our Top 4 Strategies for Cracking the Millennial Marketing Mystery:
- Stop communicating TO Millennials. Communicate WITH them. Although this is more of a commandment than a strategy, the truth is it informs all of the others. Millennials are social and expect the brands they choose to invest their time and money in, to engage with them as individuals. For brands to do this, it’s important to start by joining the #SO4Hclub and committing to being Human, Humble, Honest and Helpful. Where you’ll really distinguish yourselves, however, is by actively listening to Millennials and signaling engagement by responding to them in virtual real time.
- Seek opportunities to co-create. A natural extension of communicating WITH Millennials is finding opportunities to co-create with them. Brands should focus on creating marketing communications programs that provide a platform for Millennials to share their own stories about your brand, showcase their creativity by developing increasingly sophisticated and share-worthy content, and maybe even shape the direction of the actual brand offering.
- Get Hyper-Local and Benefit the Community. Research shows Millennials prefer brands that have an impact close to home. For brands seeking to access consumers from coast-to-coast, being locally relevant and meaningful within each community context can be very difficult. But it’s not impossible. Contests, co-created content (see strategy #2), partnering with community organizations and media tours are proven PR tactics that effectively connect your brand with a community. In our experience, grassroots corporate social responsibility programs – like #BurgerstoBeatMS – work great because they deliver authentic value to a community, and are also fantastic ways to make your brand relevant to Millennial consumers.
- Deliver Real-Time Value. Through all brand marketing communications activities, it’s imperative you consider if what you are sharing is helpful; either from a social or utilitarian perspective. Thought leadership content, recipes, and content with social cache like the #PringlesDIPbate are great examples of valuable content. Don’t just sell to Millennials. When you give them something, they’ll return the favour in the forms of loyalty, buzz and ultimately sales.
There you have it. Four PR proven strategies for tapping into Millennials and growing your brand, free of charge. We hope you use them well, and if you’re looking for a big creative concept specific to your brand and goals, please contact us. We’d love to share our creativity and strategic thinking with you.
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