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Engaging Your Millennial Customers The Right Way

By Lisa Carolan

60389136_s.jpgMillennials, also known as Generation Y or Echo Boomers, have been a hot topic in recent years. Why?

  • Millennials will comprise 75 percent of the world's workforce by 2030.
  • Millennials comprise 26 percent of the American population and account for approximately $600 billion in spending nationally and an estimated $1.3 trillion globally.

No wonder employers are trying to recruit, motivate and retain them and on the other hand, marketers are trying to engage them, build relationships and convert them into lifelong customers.

Who Are The Millennials?

Since there is no universal definition of a millennial, it can be complicated to place a convenient label on this demographic group. The Pew Research Center defined them as being born between 1982 and 1993. The study conducted in 2010 stated that there were 77 million millennials in the United States.  In an article in the New York Times based on census statistics, the paper reported that there were 83 million millennials in the country, who were born between 1982 and 2000.  Other experts define millennials as those born between 1980 and 1995 or between 1982 and 2004.

Regardless of how you define millennials, it is obvious that they represent a significant share of the market. Their power is only expected to grow. Accenture predicts that millennials will represent 30 percent of the nation's total retail sales by 2020. This equates to a projected $1.4 trillion annually.

Although it is important to remember that millennials are individuals, it is possible to state some generalities about the group that most members share.

  • They are "always on." Millennials are the first generation to have been raised with much of the technology that exists today. Only the eldest millennials can remember living without the Internet or mobile phones. They like being constantly connected through texts, Instagram and Snapchat.
  • They tend to have a short attention span. Several studies have revealed that millennials prefer visual and concise communications.
  • They dislike traditional marketing. One study found that 75 percent of this generation considered ads disruptive and 77 percent stated that they actively ignore ads. However, 80 percent stated that they appreciate ads, which are done well.
  • They want to participate. Millennials enjoy collaborative and democratic processes. They want to interact with brands and make their opinions known.

Tailoring Your Marketing Efforts To Millennials

Every generation has created new challenges for marketers. During the late 1960s, marketers had to figure out how to win over the baby boomers. Generation X required marketers to adapt their strategies once more. Marketing to millennials requires updating your approach yet again. Here are some points to consider while you are refining your strategy.

  • Millennials crave for experiences. This demographic group is more likely to spend money on experiences than on major purchases of material items. Instead of following the route of traditional advertising, many companies are shifting their marketing efforts to events where millennials can experience and interact with the brand.
  • Be authentic. According to surveys, the authenticity of a brand rates second on millennials' list of importance. Only loyalty discounts rates higher. Millennials are adept at spotting fakes, and they will not hesitate to shun a brand that they believe is being untrustworthy or false.
  • Speak to them like a human being. Millennials prefer an informal, conversational tone. Avoid formal tones that could make your brand seem condescending, pompous or out of touch.
  • Mobile is king. Millennials love their smartphones, so create interactive mobile apps that allow them to rotate, zoom, spin and interact with the product as if it were actually present.
  • Be brief, concise and visual. Millennials are accustomed to obtaining their information in succinct, quick bites. However, they also want to obtain value for their time, and they prefer graphics and media that are visually compelling.
  • Have a presence on the social media channels. A survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group found that 52 percent of the millennials reported that they used their mobile devices to access social media to conduct research on a brand.
  • Appeal to their senses. Interactive content has become a leading way to attract millennials. They can navigate freely through the content to select relevant pieces that they find interesting or valuable. You can achieve new levels of engagement by deploying interactive applications across different platforms and venues.

The behavior of millennials as consumers may differ from that of the generations that came before them. Marketing to them requires some adjustments on your part, but the rewards can be substantial.

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Topics: Customer Experience, Digital Marketing

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