Millennials are the hot topic when it comes to marketing. Companies want to reach this group because obtaining loyalty within this group would solidify their future for generations to come. Everyone wants to succeed in capturing their attention. Don’t believe me? Google search “marketing to” and see what the first suggestion is. In order to stay relevant, companies want to appeal to this young age group who have more buying power every year and often set the trends in the marketplace. Speaking as a millennial and someone who has worked in market research focusing on millennials for a variety of different industries, here are some tips when trying to target this influential age group.

Don’t Treat Millennials Like They Are All the Same

People often speak of millennials as if they are one group with the same beliefs, wants, and goals. Like many other stereotypes, just because they trend higher than other groups on certain traits (or all traits when you compare millennials to other generational groups like Gen X and Boomers), does not mean the individuals connect with these traits. Millennials are not identified by similar purchasing habits or likes and dislikes. Millennials are identified by when they were born. Currently millennials are 18 to 34 years old. Think about it in these terms: how much do you think a 34 year old and an 18 year old have in common? When age is the only factor, probably not much when it comes to their shopping habits, price point, and what products appeal to them. So lumping them together in the same group and trying to target both of them with the same message, is likely going to result in a broad, generalized message which doesn’t connect with either age.

Do Remember Those Who Influence Millennials

Credit: franckreporter via Getty Images
Credit: franckreporter via Getty Images

When you do try to lump millennials together, they are not a very reliable group to target. They are young, want to try everything, and are loyal to practically nothing. They are price sensitive and willing to make substitutions on most items. They grew up in the era of the internet but constantly had parents/older siblings/people they trust say: “Don’t click on that ad; it’s a scam” and “Don’t open that email; it will give the computer a virus.” Sure most of them are on the internet using social media, but they distrust advertisements. The advertisement they find interesting is the kind that disguises itself as entertainment. Like the popular kids back in high school, they can tell when you are trying really hard to impress them, and it doesn’t make you cooler. In fact, most of the time, it does just the opposite. Essentially, millennials will resist your marketing efforts, force you to jump through hoops to impress them, and even if you do catch their attention, they will probably just buy what’s new or on sale. So how do you catch their attention and gain loyalty? Word of mouth. More specifically, make sure you are appealing to those people and sources with whom millennials connect and respect. Millennials value their friends’ and families’ opinions on products and companies. In your efforts to capture millennials’ attention, don’t forget about the people they love, admire, and look up to.

Do the Research and Know Your Brand

I follow a variety of industries on social media and often see companies blindly trying to get millennials’ attention. It’s blatantly obvious when they haven’t done their research. Many companies hire relatively inexperienced millennials to run social media accounts for them, assuming that because they belong to the same age group and understand social media, they are experts in marketing to that age group. If you want to see results in your marketing efforts, I would highly recommend doing research on the following to clarify your target: 1) know your brand’s strengths and weaknesses, 2) understand where your brand can stretch and what consumers will actually believe, and 3) identify targets based on more than just age. Targeting based on attitudes and behaviors is a much more effective method than targeting by age alone. Taking the time to do the research will help you to create a more focused brand message that is overall more believable and relevant to your audience and can clarify exactly who you should be marketing to.

The key thing to remember is that millennials are more than just the new generation; they are completely different than past generations and are not all the same. Within this huge group (which is now projected to be larger than the boomers) are a vast number of individuals with different likes, dislikes, and purchasing habits. Rather than attempting to appeal to the entire group, don’t be afraid to focus your marketing efforts on those millennials for whom your brand is relevant. Want to successfully target millennials? Do the research, focus your message, and gain loyalty through appealing to those people and sources millennials trust.

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