Millennials, the largest generation in U.S. history, are taking center stage in the marketplace as they amass unprecedented buying power. Born between 1980 and the early 2000s, millennials are making an impact across all industry sectors and forcing marketers and business strategists to adjust their techniques to appeal to this increasingly important demographic.
E-commerce companies are especially interested in tailoring their strategies to better suit millennials because this is a generation that grew up shopping online. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution for addressing any group with tens of millions of members, millennials do have some common traits that marketers should take into account when targeting them. Here are my three techniques for effectively marketing to millennials:
1. Deliver value in all customer interactions. Millennials are more likely to share personal data than prior generations—as long as you make it worth their while by offering something of value in return. Millennials’ willingness to share goes beyond a simple data exchange with your company. If you deliver value when communicating with millennial customers, then they’re more likely to share your communications with friends on social media. The value can be promotional, such as a discount, or it can come in the form of information or tips to help customers manage real-life issues. The important thing is to keep value at the center of the exchange.
2. Gain trust with quality products and service. Everyone wants to be treated with respect and to get value from their purchases, but millennials are unique in their eagerness to share their brand experience online. This presents an opportunity—and a challenge—to brands that serve millennial customers. If marketers do a great job, then they’ll likely benefit by having customers share their experiences on social media. But if they don’t satisfy millennials, then those customers will share their dissatisfaction just as widely. So, work on building trust by maintaining high product and service standards. And if you fall short, make it right as quickly as possible.
3. Be a company that millennials want to be associated with. Millennials have a reputation for being an idealistic, community-minded generation, but they’re also generally cynical about companies and government institutions because they grew up in a period marked by social, political, and economic chaos. And unfortunately for marketers, this means that they’re typically suspicious of marketing claims. However, appealing to their civic-minded nature and sense of community can be an effective marketing technique. By demonstrating that your company is committed to sustainability and that you give back to the community, you can generate goodwill with millennial customers.
As millennials gain buying power, companies that want to make inroads with this generation will need to adjust their marketing strategies. By making value the centerpiece of customer communications, marketers can build long-term relationships with millennial customers and entice them to share their outreach with friends. Consistently delivering quality products and service is important with any group, but especially with millennials because they tend to share their experiences via social media.
Cultivating a brand image that expresses millennial values is also important. Companies that engage in charitable giving and brands that champion sustainability can gain millennials’ respect and affinity. By using these techniques, you can put your brand on the path to success with the largest generational cohort in history—and supercharge e-commerce sales.
About the author:
Hernan Vicuna is the brand manager of Zenni Optical. He is a results-producing marketing professional with a track record of accomplishments in leading comprehensive marketing strategies and campaigns in support of business goals and objectives.