How to Market to the Millennial Generation (Even If You’re Not a Member)
When I see what my generation is doing on reality TV shows, I typically roll my eyes and pray that employers aren’t watching and assuming everyone that age acts like that. Either way, one thing’s for certain: The Boston Consulting Group (the same people who brought you cash cows, stars, question marks, and dogs to business terms in the 1960’s) are clearly interested in what makes Millennials tick.
Look at those crazy hooligans!
I’m not sure what initially caused the lightbulb to go off, but Boston Consulting Group wanted to identify how behaviors and attitudes differed between Millennials (people between the ages of 16 and 34 years old) and non-Millennials. They also wanted to find out which differences are truly generational characteristics for Millennials, and not just qualities associated with youth in general.
In order to do this, they surveyed 4,000 Millennials and 1,000 non-Millennials (ages 35 to 74) in the United States. One of the unexpected findings that came from this study was that many executives who make product and service decisions for their companies have “negative or dismissive attitudes toward Millennials.” This is an extremely dangerous (not to mention, stupid) generalization to make, since there are almost 79 million Millennials in the US right now, compared to the 76 million baby boomers!
Boston Consulting Group was able to determine shared beliefs and attitudes of Millennials based on their responses to questions. What they found was six segments, each shedding light on how this generation acts and what their beliefs are. Knowing how each one ticks is essential for companies to develop effective product offerings, marketing campaigns, channel strategies, and messaging. A one-size-fits-all effort will fail to connect with each and every segment, so it’s wise to carefully choose “the one” as the focus of your marketing.
Below is a table direct from the report (which you can read in its entirety here) which shows the break up of Millennials into the six segments that were found:
Why should you care? Because Millennials make up a huge portion of the consumer market. Companies hoping to better target this evolving generation should be taking notes! Here are some general insights into a Millennial’s mind:
- These consumers care more about instant gratification and getting in and out of the store than just receiving exclusively “friendly” service. Because of this finding, companies need to re-examine their existing customer-service models. Find a happy balance between offering speedy service, but while still being friendly and helpful for your other consumers.
- Millennials are much more likely than non-Millennials to explore brands on social networks and interact with them. Companies must monitor what is being said about their brands on social networks and actively participate in the conversation. The time has come to reevaluate whether their current brand endorsers are credible and effective with their audience, because while the right brand advocates can be very effective, the wrong ones can be ineffective and detrimental.
- This generation is a regular social butterfly offline as well, because they engage in group activities by going out to eat, shopping, or traveling with friends and coworkers. They look towards these groups for validation that they’ve made the right decisions. And since groups will always spend more than individuals at places, smart companies should consider using location-based shopping services like Foursquare and Shopkick to get the most out of this trend. While not every Millennial is using these sites, you could attract some that wouldn’t have considered your place before.
- They’ve had the 3 R’s of recycling engrained into their brains since kindergarten so they’re more interested in cause marketing than non-Millennials. They’re more likely to purchase items associated with a particular cause over an item that has no cause attached to it.
Some companies have even gone as far as setting up advisory boards consisting of Millennials in order to understand this generation better. Others have experimented with new service models, retail formats, delivery channels, and even considered entirely new products to sell them.
It’s important for companies to pay attention today so that they can gain valuable insights into tomorrow’s opportunities– and get a head start on capturing a larger share of the Millennial wallet!
Do you fit into one of these segments, if so which one (or ones)? Do you agree with the segments? How do you wish companies would market towards you? Sound off below!