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Shireen Qudosi

How to Market to Millennials

Mar 11 2014, 03:00 AM by

How to Market to Millennials


A hawk-eyed ad watcher and trend spotter, I couldn’t help but notice the significant shift of some major brands in favor of the Millennial market. Whether it was ads, or what key pieces made the news, or even how long-running shows catered to a younger audience – the key takeaways told me two things: Millenials like stories and they love technology. Neither of these traits fell prey to the classic Millennial stereotypes of “lazy” or “entitled” that even I’m guilty of deferring to from time to time. This got me thinking: who are the Millennials and how do we market to them?

First, contrary to the rest of us, Millennials aren’t Facebook mongers. Millenials prefer punctuated image-friendly communication with their network. They don’t want suggestions on who to like, be friends with, or follow. They also want creative capabilities, which Facebook just doesn’t allow.

Snapchat understood this, which is why the punctuated picture messaging app traffics about 350 million messages daily. That’s a one in five ration and it’s where Millenials currently are more than on Facebook. This is likely the reason why Facebook’s Zuckerberg had his eyes on the app – though unsuccessfully. His $3 billion offer was refused.

Zuckerberg moved onto WhatsApp, a mobile texting startup that (according to Forbes in an article by Shel Israel titled “Facebook Buys WhatsApp: Bonehead or Brilliant?”) is “enjoying meteoric success in developing countries.” So why would Facebook be interested? According to Shel, “Facebook is taking a long view, that Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo! and other may not yet be seeing. Most of those companies are doing quite well with available low-hanging fruits of the First World orchards. Facebook seems to be forging out into the jungles and deserts that are yet unexplored by rivals.”

Facebook’s attempt to conquest popular apps is about killer visionary perspective: millennial thinking isn’t just about what’s popular today, but about where we’re headed tomorrow. And when it comes to WhatsApp, Facebook recognizes that technology is on a fast rising course, where in just one generation more people have cell phones than running water and electricity. These are today’s demographic and part of a greater Millennial group tomorrow.

Rob Reed, Founder of MomentFeed, would agree that Millenials are into heavy picture platform users – and Instagram is one of them. Rob feels that Instagram provides the most compelling visual medium for communicating brand messages and engaging with loyal customers. Aaron Strout of Marketing Land feels that “with 65% of people being visual learners, social sites that focus on photo and short video sharing are going to win in the long run.” This means that as I had predicted two years prior, the name of the game is images. Graphics, videos, pictures, images, and even portraits – in short visuals – are what Millenials respond to. So where does that leave marketing?

With all the WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Instagram talk, it’s clear Millennials are heavy mobile users. As a Benchmark Email article by Katrina Killer best summarized it, “born between between 1982 and 2000 and numbering 78M, Millennials came of age together with the Internet and mobile phones. Technology to them is no big deal and is a helpful rather than frustrating component to getting things done and being entertained.”

Technology is key. Millennials may seem like a frustrating demographic for marketers, but as Amazon’s Jeff Bezos puts it: “All businesses need to be young forever. If your customer base ages with you, you’re Woolworth’s.” This means getting on board with marketing the way Millennials live.

Katrina understands this, arguing that the mobile savvy group has a 72% smart phone usage and the highest app usage across mobile devices in any one demographic. When it comes to mobile marketing, Katrina argues that “the mobile experience of your brand isn’t an add-on experience for Millennials, it is THE experience.”

Posted in Tips & Resources, Cool Stuff for Small Businesses

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