Older Americans retain most of the buying power in the United States, but understanding how to market to Millennials has become a popular topic of conversation for modern businesses looking to create brand ambassadors, improve brand loyalty, and find new, lifetime customers within the youngest population of consumers.
Successfully marketing to Millennials means understanding how they shop, how they spend their money, and what they look for in new brands.
Learning how to market to Millennials also means understanding that many of the clichés regarding the generation are untrue.
The International Business Times sums up well the cliché about the average Millennial's lack of brand loyalty:
"... they are the most brand-loyal generation, with over half of millennials claiming loyalty to their favorite brands. This is in large part connected to social media, which offers constant interaction, feedback loops, and peer influence. While old advertising falls on deaf ears, user-generated content (UGC) and user engagement help marketers to meet this cohort in their own world, on their terms."
Learning to market to Millennials is an important task for established businesses who already count many long-time Generation X customers, but also new businesses who wish to build a healthy following of new consumers. Here are some of the methods your business can use to reach Millennials effectively.
A Case Study. Learn from Example
Millennials connect via social media, and conventional wisdom suggests reaching them means participating in every facet of online communication, from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram and Snapchat. Before jumping into the Wild West of social media and making any rookie mistakes, a small business owner may benefit from investigating the techniques used by established companies to "lure" Millennials.
USA Today recently published an article about the efforts of iconic motorhome manufacturer Winnebago, and how the company has risen to the challenge of transforming its reputation from one of gray-haired retirees on the open road to fresh-faced Millennials on road trip adventures.
The recently hired CEO of the company, Michael Happe, told USA Today that major changes needed to occur to build a reputation with Millennials.
"But he also knows that market won't be enough for the Iowa-grown company to remain competitive. Winnebago is rebuilding itself, expanding its line and doubling down on smaller, sleeker and less expensive RVs that will appeal to younger buyers."
Not only did the company recently increase the number of young workers in management, but the business also saw its main production of large coaches move to the West Coast and a major office open in the Twin Cities. Winnebago also bought recreational vehicle manufacturer Grand Design, in the hopes that Grand Design's Millennial-friendly travel trailers would increase sales with young buyers.
Winnebago's efforts thus far are a continuation of the company's efforts to recover from the recession that nearly bankrupted the entire industry when buyers stopped vacationing and halted purchases of recreational vehicles.
One of the key takeaways from Winnebago's recent efforts in marketing to Millennials has been its proactive changes. Past efforts by the company to increase sales usually came well after change was needed and were considered reactionary. Winnebago's newest efforts to increase sales have been much more active and forward thinking.
For the average business that wishes to increase sales to Millennials, looking to the future is essential.
Focus on Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility
The debate over climate change and the importance of sustainable actions by consumers, businesses, and government has ignited a fierce debate across the planet. However, for Millennials, sustainability has become an important factor in a shopper's decision to buy from a company or choose a competing product.
Research from Nielsen reveals that Millennials are entering a difficult economic climate, but they're still willing to pay extra for sustainability. And, looking beyond the Millennial generation (sometimes referred to as Generation Z), the youngest consumers in society today are even more willing to pay extra for environmentally friendly products.
"The rise in the percentage of respondents aged 15 - 20, also known as Generation Z, who are willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies who are committed to positive social and environmental impact was also strong—up from 55% in 2014 to 72% in 2015."
Millennials have certainly emerged as one of the most influential generations as far as the impact those consumers have had on the sustainable changes made at major companies. However, Millennials haven't been the only generation to begin seeking out sustainable businesses and corporations that make corporate responsibility an integral part of spending.
According to Nielsen's survey, 66 percent of respondents indicated they would pay extra for goods and services from companies that are committed to social and environmental responsibility.
A number of different drivers impact the average consumer's decision to buy a product from a particular company, but some of the biggest influences included:
- The product boosts health & wellness
- The product contains fresh or organic ingredients
- The product is sold by an environmentally-friendly company
The only factor that was more important to consumers when it came to making purchasing decisions was whether the consumer trusted the company. Not surprisingly, building trust with Millennial consumers would likely include creating eco-friendly products that are healthy and natural.
Visible Packaging and the Impact on Millennial Consumers
A fascinating intersection of modern marketing and Millennial buying habits has stemmed from the generation's focus on leading a sustainable lifestyle in a visible manner. Millennials often support environmental policies, seek out employers who promote sustainability, and pay more for environmentally responsible products.
However, they often do so in a manner that is highly visible. Millennials are image-conscious, and they share often on social media. Not only does this behavior influence friends, but it also offers savvy businesses the opportunity to engage in highly visible advertising where the consumers are doing the marketing through social media sharing.
According to an article on how to market to Millennials, the generation wants to make a visible statement with their purchasing habits.
"Millennials are image-conscious consumers, which could be a natural byproduct of growing up among constant exposure on social media. To many millennials, the simple act of selecting a packaged beverage during a lunch break is the potential for a statement about their identity and values. In fact, half of millennials believe that brands “say something” about “how they fit in” to the world as a whole, and 59% are willing to pay more for a brand that portrays the right image."
Reach Millennials with Innovative Packaging from Howard Packaging
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