Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) have finally come into their own. During 2017-18, they will outspend the Baby Boomers and by 2020, they will become the largest population group comprising 75% of the workforce. Although much maligned, millennials are truly a unique generation that demonstrate markedly different lifestyle characteristics to their predecessors. Understanding and responding to these differences could be a huge asset to your creative business. Whilst the significant purchasing power of the Boomers shouldn’t be ignored, winning Millennials to your client list is clearly an important strategy. This article will outline some interesting facts and some tips to accomplish this goal.
Millennials are the first truly digitally native generation. Highly educated, career-driven, politically progressive, globally conscious, they are also mobile, tech savvy and extremely social. According to Forbes (Forbes/Elite Daily Report 2015), 80% of US millennials interact with two or more mobile devices whilst watching TV and 87% use two to three devices daily. In this environment of information overload, it is clear that millennials may ‘see’ much, but getting their attention is not easy. Furthermore, classical advertising just doesn’t cut it with Millennials. Less than 1% are directly influenced by this marketing approach.
1. Millennials are ‘influenced’ not persuaded
Millennials are uniformly ‘immune’ to classical advertising. Instead, they are hugely influenced by social opinions. More UK Millennials rely on friends and family than in the US in forming their purchasing decisions. However, both populations are expert at evaluating the opinions of ‘real’ strangers. The rise of the ‘influencer’ on social media and blogs illustrate that endorsements from real people carry far more weight than Hollywood A listers or celebrities. In the US, 84% of Millennials prefer user-generated content, (UGC) such as social media comments, websites/blogs or chat forums to influence their buying decisions (Bazzarvoice). In short, without consumer input, Millennials won’t buy. 60% of UK Millennials engage with online content even when it is sponsored.
What does this mean for your business? First and foremost it means that without some sort of online presence, you have little chance of winning Millennial attention. Even as a Millennial creative, you may not be focusing your online activities to your advantage. Most importantly, any online presence you do have should provide and encourage user/customer interaction. If you have a multi online presence, it should be integrated and seamless to provide consistency over all platforms.
- Do you have a retail website? If yes, allow customers to comment on your products and/or include testimonials. Actively delete spam, trolls or other suppliers obviously only promoting their own business.
- Do you have Social Media accounts? Building up and maintaining attractive social media channels is a science in itself. In addition to providing attractive content, include active calls to action to encourage your audience to comment on your posts. It’s acceptable to list the same posts across platforms, but that can look uninspired and dull. Adding occasional platform specific posts can keep your presence lively without diluting your consistency. Most creatives either work alone or in very small businesses. It’s a heavy drain on resources to maintain good social presence on EVERY channel. It’s also really not necessary. Find one or two platforms that best suit your offering and cultivate a good and engaged following there.
- Do you write a blog? Blog posts are often used as a means to obtain reliable information and ‘expert’ opinions and can be a great marketing tool. If you write a product relevant blog, use the platform to inform your readers about diverse aspects of your offering in depth. Build up a reputation as a reliable information source. Reviewing trends or others activities in the same line of business also lends you a sense of objectivity and expertise. Once again, encourage your readers to comment and so provide useful UGC.
- Do you engage in online forums? If you do, you can gradually craft an amicable expert persona that can strengthen your branding. Asking questions to others about their specific methods also demonstrates interest and a desire to stay on the ball in your field.
2. Millennials show great Brand Loyalty
Perhaps surprisingly, Millennials demonstrate a high degree of brand loyalty. In the US over 60% will return to brands they love (Forbes/Elite Daily Report 2015). 81% of UK Millennials are more likely to relate to brands that use real people as opposed to celebrities. Well informed and thus demanding, Millennials ultimately stay loyal to a brand if they feel the brand is giving them added value. 62% will actively exchange with brands of interest on social networks.
- Are you a retailer? Retailers should use analytic tools to filter the information provided regarding your brand. Tailor offerings to suit need by monitoring response and show that you are listening.
- Are you a millennial creative? Nurturing brand loyalty from Millennials is your opportunity to foster very long-term relationships. Moreover, such long-standing clients will be your best resource for feedback and input as you grow and develop together throughout your business lifetime.
3. Millennials are highly service orientated and impatient
Millennials are savvy, informed shoppers. Extensively researching their purchases in advance, once they have singled out a preference they expect personal, efficient and fast service.
Millennials are very cost conscious and will often base online purchasing decisions on the cheapest shipping/return options. Although very comfortable with purchasing online, Millennials still enjoy a physical shopping experience, but often in conjunction with online research and price comparisons. The reverse is also true, where a phenomenon known as ‘showrooming’ involves viewing real products in store only to purchase cheaper elsewhere online.
70% of UK Millennials agreed that they are impatient (Youth Trends Report 2016). Once a decision to purchase has been made, they want it yesterday. When purchasing online they respond to fast and efficient service and fast (same day) delivery.
- Do your research. If your product is available elsewhere try to price match or offer better service.
- Customise the experience from smartphone to store to PC to keep it consistent and seamless.
- Demonstrate as much supply chain flexibility as possible. Forwards for sales (availability and/or efficient restocking) and backwards for returns (speedy reintegration and storage capacity).
- Offer added value such as free gift-wrapping, free shipping, and invoice-free shipping for gifts to third parties.
- Try to partner with others providing services you can’t such as third party logistics to offer same day delivery etc.
4. Millennials value experiences more than things
Millennials digress significantly from Boomers in their sharing mentality. They share information, music, cars, tools and many other possessions. Many millennials will economise on ‘things’ in order to fund a VIP experience elsewhere. 53% of UK Millennials preferentially spend on experience rather possessions. This is a factor that you as a creative can turn to your advantage. Your offerings rarely belong to the list of essentials but rather enhance the life experience itself.
- Focus your product information strategy to emphasise the emotional and experience related factors that product provides.
- Make the purchasing process a fun or rewarding experience. Include competitions, group bonuses, games etc.
- Allow your clients to share their experiences with you/your product by encouraging interaction on social media such as ‘photo with product’ campaigns or ‘introduce a friend’ initiatives
- Make your clients feel like VIPs. Reward loyalty through bonus or preview schemes and go the extra mile for repeat custom.
5. Millennials are health, happiness and socially focused
Whilst product shy compared with Boomers, Millennials spend proportionally more on health, fitness, adventure, personal development and social/ecological engagement. Being healthy and enjoying work and life in general is the new rich.
75% of US Millennials expect brands to give back to society in some way. In the UK, half of the 16-34 age group are more likely to demonstrate loyalty to brands that help improve ecological or societal issues. 59% of UK Millennials consider traditional values to be important and 89% agree that social media enables a globally connected world and value inclusivity.
- Tailor your offering to provide associations with health, fitness and engagement.
- Emphasise ethical sourcing, organic components, ‘green’ ideology etc.
- Support causes worthwhile to you and connected to your business if possible. Make this clearly visible and encourage customer engagement through fundraising events or activities.
- Try to use locally sourced resources and support your local community. Advertise these activities on social media.
- Call your local public and media to support you as a local business.
6. Millennials are proud to be individuals
This is one area where creatives have enormous leverage. In a world of sameness, affordable luxury on every street corner, and mass production, Millennials actively seek out products and experiences that make them feel unique, individual and special. 94% of UK Millennials say that it is important to have a unique identity. Creatives active in handmade industries can market their offerings to support individuality and a one of a kind experience.
95% of UK Millennials want to be ‘courted’ by brands that offer personalised service. Coupons or deals should be sent by person-to-person email, texts or even traditional snail mail. They deeply value authenticity and being taken seriously. 42% want to co-create with brands and leave their mark on product ranges. Millennials love personalised products and bespoke items where they are involved in the design process.
Millennials also like to be individually addressed in public. 64% of 16-24 year olds are more likely to become loyal customers when brands personally engage with them on social media.
- Actively market any handmade, unique, one of a kind aspects of your offering
- Personalise offerings where possible – add customer names to products or to gift cards and packaging.
- Personalise correspondence as much as possible.
- Engage in personal correspondence online. ‘Like’ comments you receive on social media and respond promptly.
- Respond to all phone calls and emails within 24 hours if possible.
- Run competitions where the winner(s) individuality is foremost. Examples include photo competitions online where customers portray ‘their’ personal take on your product.
The Millennial demographic will pose many challenges to traditional concepts of marketing and sales. For small creative business, I personally think this is a positive evolution. Personal, specialised and customer orientated products and services are easy to offer and often underscore the creative business model. Many opportunities for more meaningful interactions can ensue that serve both the creative and the client. Above all, Millennials make enthusiastic clients and that makes creativity even more satisfying.
Are you a millennial creative and have problems/solutions to address your generation?
Are you a Generation X or Boomer and struggle to identify with Millennials?
Comment below and let’s get a good conversation going.
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