Millennials are a different market game altogether – they don’t seem to respond to traditional marketing methods and strategies that have always worked for the Baby Boomers and Generation X markets.
Therefore, a lot of businesses are at a loss on how to effectively target and market this generation. After all, millennials are bringing in trends unlike any other, and this is changing the landscape drastically.
It may be a different approach, but that doesn’t mean that appealing to millennials is a lot more difficult or requires you to allocate more of your budget into your marketing strategy – in fact, adapting to the way millennials think and act may even result for a better process for your business.
So how do you do it?
Table of Contents
1. Don’t Sell to Them
You might be thinking now “Didn’t I read this article to know how to sell to millennials? Why is it now telling me not to?”, but what this really means is that you shouldn’t become too sales-y with millennials – it makes them turn their heads away.
Gone are the days when a simple “Buy Now!” sales pitch worked for the market. They’ve grown up with those types of ad continually bombarded in their senses, and they’re tired of it.
Don’t sell to them outright. You need to convince them why, in a way that benefits them greatly, and without looking like they were talking to a car salesman who’s constantly talking about how they should buy a car in that moment or watching a blatant product placement from their favorite series.
If your products are screaming for obvious sales attention, you’re bound to attract only deaf ears.
For example, Etude House Global’s posts attempt to sell to their target market (primarily millennial females who are Korean makeup and skincare enthusiasts) by providing them with the benefits and use of their products in their social media posts.
The “Any Cushion Color Corrector” and “Play 101 Stick Color Contour Duo” post presents these products with both aesthetic appeal and benefit-laden information. This is a way for them to drive sales without directly saying “Buy them now” anywhere in the post.
2. Match How Millennials Communicate
Skip the TV and radio – millennials hardly pay attention or even use those anymore. They’re more than likely tuned into their phones or devices, browsing the Internet for hours on end, and that’s your best avenue for reaching them. After all, millennials grew up in the age of websites and social networking – from MySpace and AOL to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, online shops, etc.
When communicating with other people, The Center for Generational Kinetics found that millennials prefer these methods (in order of importance):
- Text and IM apps, like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger;
- Email, with the subject line being a highly important aspect;
- Social media;
- Phone calls; and
- In person
These methods should be kept in mind when directly communicating with your millennial market, especially when it comes to them seeking customer support.
Keep in mind that it’s best to keep multiple ways of contacting your business as well – not all customers use a single way and some might prefer one method over the other, even if it is the less popular or less-used one. There are different benefits per method of communication that will try to take advantage of in specific circumstances.
For general lines of questions or quick inquiries, keep your WhatsApp, Viber or Facebook Messenger lines open. You can also utilize social media for this, as well as the private message options that can be found on various platforms such as Instagram and Twitter.
Emails and phone calls are reserved for more lengthy transactions, business-related matters, longer inquiries (such as reporting or detailing problems) or those concerning personal information.
In-person inquiries are mostly used as a last resort by millennials, and would most likely apply to those who are in the vicinity to make the effort.
3. Be Informative, but Be Quick
Millennials are curious, yes, but they are also quite busy and always shifting from one activity to another. Holding them longer than they want to will bore them and will render your sales pitch unimportant for them.
This is not to say, however, that they are attention-deficit – after all, this is the generation that will binge-watch multiple seasons of The Walking Dead in a few days’ time, which means they’ll only pay attention to what they want to, in the right medium.
They’ll also fact-check what you’re offering them regardless of what you tell them, so it’s almost a wasted effort trying to explain everything rather than letting them have the natural curiosity to explore. Your goal is to convince them why they need your product in the least amount of time it takes, but leave out the heavier, more detailed information so you don’t waste your time, and theirs.
Strike the balance between telling them what they want or need to know and keeping your speech short. The most important benefit or factor they can derive from your product or service is often a great point to start with, along with one or two supplementary benefits. Don’t go into a whole spiel about your product unless you’re sure they’re more than ready to listen until the end.
For example, this ad by AirBNB gives one important benefit for their services: the sense of belongingness anywhere around the world. Travelers, especially the millennials, want to feel comfortable and at ease with the surroundings they are in, especially in foreign places, which AirBNB promises they will get.
Best of all, they already captured attention within the combination of a phrase and a supplementary sentence, and would only detail more about what they are offering if the audience clicks the button – which ensures them that whoever is reading is interested in learning more.
4. Don’t Try to Dupe Them
Again, millennials have a great tendency to fact-check, whether you want them to or not. They’ll scour the Internet to learn more about what you are trying to sell to them so they aren’t caught in any surprises that they might not like – and if they are, millennials are more than willing to spread the word about it.
For example, a millennial checking out an online clothing business would refer to the comments, reviews, and even ask their peers before they make any transactions or purchases.
Don’t try too hard to relate to them – they can figure it out. Millennials want real, down-to-earth people who can truly connect with them and give them the truth.
In short, they want authenticity to counteract their skepticism. Be consistent and transparent with whatever you tell them about your goods or services, and if their fact-checking reveals that you were right, they will be more eager to listen the next time.
Starbucks is a good example of this. When inquired, they are willing to educate their audience on the composition of their drinks to answer their questions – which is useful not only to the person who asked but to anyone who reads about the information the next time they might order something similar.
5. Appeal to Their Emotions
If you have been observing things that millennials have trended over the years in social media, you’ll see how many of these are because millennials felt strongly about them.
A lot of things are a big deal for millennials – from companies launching environmentally-affective projects, to social issues that they feel will affect their futures. Some are even designed just to let them have a good time or feel good. Either way, their emotions are one of the ruling factors for their engagement tendencies.
Make them laugh, make them cry, give them something that will have an impact on their beliefs and their world.
A good example is Dove’s “Choose Beauty” campaign – the video of the campaign became a viral hit after people are left with different emotions while watching women make a choice. People left and right are sharing to express their opinions on the impact and significance of the campaign on women empowerment.
Instead of thinking of ways how your brand can come up with some convoluted advocacy that will sound and feel dubious (see point 4), think of an advocacy that you can see your company doing that matters to millennials, and just subtly let them know that you can help them fight for their cause.
If advocacies are not doable for you, just take the backseat. Joke around with your millennial market. Make memes. Give them stories that will touch their hearts. And remember that you can’t try too hard to relate to them; they’ll know.
6. Act like a Counselor
Impressing millennials requires you to act as the guiding point in regards to both your business and how it relates to their lives. They want to know that you can hear them, you can acknowledge their problems, and solve it for them.
Acting like an expert who has the solutions to their problems will let you develop a relationship with them, and ultimately makes you a trustworthy business in their judgment.
Research what kinds of problems you can address firsthand, then create content about it. Always be ready to answer when they are asking you. Open their eyes to problems they never knew they had and present your solution afterward.
These methods allow you to establish yourself as a person they can approach when they are confused and will let them remember you more.
Many makeup companies, such as Maybelline, create content based around helping their niche with makeup-related problems – this one about contouring based on face shape being a prime example. This can be used to your leverage as well.
A page dedicated to selling clothes online can enumerate tips on what clothes to pair with each other, or how certain articles of clothing can be styled various ways for different occasions.
This can help you both provide expert advice to your millennial audience and sell to them – after all, you’ve shown how your products can be used and how effective your methods are, which is what we pointed out at the first tip.
7. Never Underestimate Them
The sad reality about millennials is that they’re always stereotyped. They have short attention spans, are always glued to their phones, entitled, etc.
Removing your preconceived notion of millennial traits may be your greatest tickets to having a successful following. Learn to understand why millennials seem the way they are, and these discoveries will help you through your marketing strategy. In fact, understanding the millennial mindset is what completed this guide!
With millennials quickly entering the workforce, you may have some under your wing as well. Ask them what ways appeal to them, and coordinate with it accordingly. After all, they are the next generation who are already making huge impacts with the purchasing market and will continue to do so for the next years.
They are your next big market!
Millennials are different from the kind of market that comprises Baby Boomers and the Generation X, and that’s okay – they’re bringing in new trends that will keep your business in the loop if you play your cards right.
If you’re apprehensive or confused about how to get them to want to purchase from you, remember that you just need to be authentic, relatable, and easy to reach. Then you’ll have them.