If you’re a brand owner or retailer hoping to tap into the current go-to market – young, influential and aspirational millennials – you need to chuck almost everything you know about marketing out the window, says Gareth Pearson.
This open-minded, forward-thinking, highly connected generation with money to burn, thrives on personal interactions, customised retail engagement and participative marketing. It is transforming retail as we know it and forcing marketers to reconsider their strategies.
The strength of a marketers’ relationships with this sought-after sector comes down to one thing: communication. How retailers and brand owners talk to millennials and engage them is critical. We are starting to see a number of definite trends in reaching this market: they’re driven by digital and are using mobile technology to inform their brand interactions; they love social media and want to personally engage with their preferred brands on these platforms; and they want to receive communications that are relevant, authentic, stimulating and offer added value.
Millennials have significant buying power, and marketers who incorporate these approaches into their millennial communications are more likely to succeed in not only attracting these consumers, but stimulating purchases from them as well.
But even traditional purchase patterns are being given a millennial makeover. This generation shops completely differently to the consumers who went before them. With their flair for digital channels, millennials are staunch supporters of online shopping, drawn by the level of personal engagement this offers. They’re selective in what they buy, preferring products that offer tangible value and benefits either to themselves (discounted prices) or to others (charitable donations on their behalf). They’re not after big brand names or large superstore outlets, favouring smaller, homegrown brands and stores. They’re biased towards handcrafted items, environmentally friendly products and purchases that are socially responsible.
Over and above this, millennials want a shopping experience they can easily share with others. So not only are they more discerning in what they buy, but how they buy it too, and they want to be able to share this experience through their social networks.
Key factors for millennial communications that hit the mark include maximising digital channels like online and mobile; amplifying brand presence and interaction on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram; using personalised communications that not only address customers by name, but that also promote products and specials aligned with their consumer profile based on previous transactions; providing offers that add tangible value; delivering relevant content that is shareable; and providing honest communications that are based more on cultivating and furthering relationships than just closing a sale.
One platform that allows marketers to successfully combine all these factors, and engages millennials’ interest in participative marketing, are loyalty and rewards-based programmes.
A defining quality about millennials is their brand loyalty. They enjoy being rewarded for their faithfulness – so much so that, according to some surveys, they make their purchase decisions based on the rewards offered to them. Loyalty programmes also tick the boxes for positive brand engagement, personalised communication and value-added offerings.
As much as a millennials’ affinity for digital communications, social networks and shareable experience makes it easy for marketers to reach them, it also makes it easy for these consumers to turn the tables on previously much-loved brands.
Treat millennials well, and you’ll have a customer for life who will act as a positive brand ambassador, sharing their experience with all who will listen. Treat them badly, and the opposite is true. The guiding principle for all millennial marketing communication should revolve around the one quality this generation prizes most above all else: mutual respect.
Gareth Pearson is CEO BMi Research.
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