Mindset of the New Millennial
With close to 75 million people and a projected spending power of $1.4 trillion by 2020, understanding the mindset of the Millennial generation is more than important for brands today - it's mission-critical. Yet getting through to this generation of independent, critical thinkers is not so simple. Yes, there is a lot of information about how much time they spend on the Internet, and how fixated this generation of 18- to 34-year-olds is with its mobile devices and all the ways to self-express and stay connected via technology.
But beyond knowing how they spend their time and communicate with friends, marketers need to understand the most important aspect of this group of consumers: How they think!
When we understand how this increasingly powerful generation thinks about themselves, their world and their relationships with brands, we can create equally powerful brand experiences and customer relationship programs to capture their immediate attention and secure lifetime value.
- Open-minded: 81 percent
- Intelligent: 80 percent
- Responsible: 73 percent
- Thoughtful: 73 percent
- Arrogant and Self-Centered
- Funny, Humorous
- Hip and Snarky
- Risk-taking but Lazy
Put those traits together (sans lazy) with entrepreneurialism and you can see why 160,000 businesses started up in just one year were founded by Millennials.
Other research from various groups such as Edelman and Neilsen shows us that Millennials align with organizations and brands that reflect their values.
And those values according to BCG, Neilsen, Edelman and just about any other research firm include:
- Charity and community
- Status and Professional Success
- Connectedness to others
Because for years, consumer research has shown that we consumers most trust people who seem to be just like us when it comes to guiding our choices and purchasing decisions, we marketers have the difficult challenge of trying to incorporate all of the above into one persona and marketing appeal. But it can be done.
With so many diverse attitudes and values among this economically powerful generation, the task of drawing them to our brands, engaging them in meaningful ways per their values and expectations, and of course keeping their business and sparking referrals, is nothing short of highly complex.
First, we need to link Millennials’ values to our brand. For example, one of their top values is supporting charity and community causes. Brands thus need to show they, too, care about social causes through actions, not just words. By doing this, they not only appear to be “just like me” brands, they also stand to gain sales and loyalty. Cone Research shows that more than 80 percent of consumers, Millennials and older, are more likely to purchase from and stay loyal to brands that quantifiably show their impact vs. those that just say they care.
Other key values we must take on to build our brands are intellectualism, open-mindedness and achievement. Brands can cater to these emotional drivers through the visuals and messages and personas they associate with their marketing campaigns, and also through the dialogue they generate on social media. Present your thoughts, vision, hopes and goals on current social issues associated with your product category and give your customers a chance to share their voices, expertise and experiences. Be authentic and respectful, and you might just make “Friends” with this really important group of consumers.
Another hot social issue among Millennials today is minimalism – how to live a full life on minimal resources, and with less stuff, less stress and space. Link your brand to responsibility and personal fulfillment beyond “stuff” associated with your products, and continue to prove your price:value ratio rocks your industry. From what research by PriceWaterhouseCoopers and other firms cited by FutureCast in its recent Millennial marketing report shows us, minimalism is likely to have more than a minimal impact on our economy in the near and not-so-distant future.
Knowing the values that get the attention of Millennial shoppers and many GenX shoppers, for that matter, puts us on the right path. But the journey doesn’t stop there. We need to know how linking to these values helps us became the kind of brand that Millennials want to associate with today and actually purchase from.
What we learn from BCG’s perspectives report on its Millennial consumer sentiment survey is Millennials have definite expectations from brands and their ongoing relationships with them. Here are just a few of them:
- Be available to help me and serve me 24/7
- Support causes and show me the impact you’ve had
- Provide me an experience not just something to buy
- Be smart and authentic
- Surprise me, entertain me with a brand personality I can relate to
Yep. I added another list of traits and attributes to try to blend in to your appeal to Millennials. Seems daunting, but clearly it's doable, as there are many brands today successfully appealing to and most importantly selling to Millennials who actually like them and talk about them in both the real and digital worlds. BCG’s survey also revealed that more Millennials than any other generation of consumers say the brands they chose say something about who they are; their values and where they fit in. They also admit more people ask them about their knowledge and opinion of brands and that they are likely to take positive actions on behalf of brands they like. When it comes to sharing brand preferences or experiences on social media and other online sites, they are substantially more likely than any other generation to do so – showing 57 percent are likely to share experiences online, compared to 43 percent for Gen X and 31 percent for Baby Boomers.
What brands are doing all of the above effectively? Here’s a list of the Top 10 “Most Beloved “ Brands in 2015 as rated by Millennial consumers, according to a report / survey done by Moosylvania, a digital agency studying the Millennial generation.
- Coca Cola
These brands cater to the some of the top values I mentioned earlier: fitness, technology for connectedness and self-expression, and minimalism/price sensitivity. Below is a list of traits from associated with the above brands that are part of what matters most to Millennials, and thus got them Top 15 rankings:
- High-quality products (matters most to 75 percent)
- Fits personality (matters most to 61 percent)
- Engages in social responsibility (matters most to 53 percent)
- Shares similar interests (matters most to 39 percent)
- Says important things (matters most to 31 percent)
Scroll back up and its clear to see that these “Matters Most” traits are right in line with the values and attributes research tells us matter most. When it comes to personality attributes, it's not hard to see how many of these Top 10 brands are coming out with energetic, fast-paced and inspiring social media, digital and even TV (the old-fashioned method) advertising campaigns.
Takeaway: Pay attention to the needs of your younger consumers and don’t stop. Stay engaged with them to find out what inspires them, drives them, and what makes them smile, laugh and get out of bed in the morning. What do they value socially, politically, environmentally and so on. Then spark meaningful dialogue, integrate appropriate themes in your marketing materials, customer experiences and put your actions behind your words. Support causes, communities and customers in ways that don’t just get attention, but speak to your Millennial customers that yes, you are “Just like Me.”
Jeanette McMurtry is a psychology-based marketing expert providing strategy, campaign development, and sales and marketing training to brands in all industries on how to achieve psychological relevance for all aspects of a customer's experience. She is the author of the recently released edition of “Marketing for Dummies” (Fifth Edition, Wiley) and “Big Business Marketing for Small Business Budgets” (McGraw Hill). She is a popular and engaging keynote speaker and workshop instructor on marketing psychology worldwide. Her blog will share insights and tactics for engaging B2B and B2C purchasers' unconscious minds which drive 90 percent of our thoughts, attitudes and behavior, and provide actionable and affordable tips for upping sales and ROI through emotional selling propositions. Her blog will share insights and tactics for engaging consumers' unconscious minds, which drive 90 percent of our thoughts and purchasing attitudes and behavior. She'll explore how color, images and social influences like scarcity, peer pressure and even religion affect consumers' interest in engaging with your brand, your message and buying from you. Reach her at Jeanette@e4marketingco.com.