If you’re trying to figure out how to market to Millennials, then perhaps the best place to start is by seeing who’s already doing it with heralded success.
Let’s start with the hospitality industry, which is already seeing millennials opt-out from hotels in exchange for an Airbnb room. To compete, Marriott Hotels began offering their customers social perk points. According to a Mobile Commerce Daily article by Michelle Saettler, titled “Marriott rewards social connoisseurs in exchange for shares,” Marriott offers rewards members the ability to “instantly collect points through liking, tweeting, posting and checking-in on social media.” Called “PlusPoints”, the rewards program encourages (especially millennial) customers to engage in the way they’re accustomed too – through social networks. It’s a similar game plan to the one picked up by Victoria’s Secret and Sephora, both of whom are connecting customers socially and offering perk points.
Saettler also quotes Jay Hawkinson, Senior VP for Emerging Products at SIM Partners, who adds shares his thoughts on Marriott’s millennial-friendly strategy: “Marriott is using a clever tactic to squeeze more from their social ad budget by using ad dollars to promote posts encouraging social sharing in return for rewards.”
According to Chantal Tode, in a MobileMarketers.com article titled “How to Build Loyalty with Millennials on Mobile,” Marriot’s strategy makes sense given that (according to data collected from Colloquy), “84 percent of consumers would spend more with retailers who offer loyalty rewards for activities other than purchasing, including sharing on social media.”
To get back to an underlying issue, let’s discuss why millennials would forgo a luxury hotel for a lowly Airbnb room?
The answer is: it comes down to experience. Millennials want an authentic experience, and their disposition to social engagement shows that. This is something the marketing minds at The U.S. Military understand very well. After all, take a look at any of the more recent recruitment ads and notice they almost without exception take on the appearance of a first-person shooter game. To quote MillennialMarkeing.com article written by Jim Nichols, titled “Six Digital Campaigns that Get Millennials”:
“No organization has a greater interest in appealing to teens than the military. It’s certainly no accident that the imagery in many armed services ads shows great similarity to that of a first-person shooter game. Gaming might be a keystone in military marketing, but so too are social networking, video, mobile, and tailored peer-to-peer experiences that enable prospects to speak directly with soldiers and hear firsthand accounts of life in the military.”
Other brands aren’t just redesigning their ad and marketing approach – they’re readjusting their products and services. A Business Insider article by Michael Thrasher, titled “11 Ways Big Brands are Chasing Millennials,” shares just how and in the process shows some of the principles at appeal to millennials.
1. Clean Eating – it might be a buzz word, but being healthy has really become a lifestyle choice for most millennials. Thrasher, for example, writes how even McDonald’s is getting on board by offering healthier meals for calorie-conscious millennials.
2. Design – Design plays a big element with millennials. They want cleaner design and brands that tie in cultural cues (like Budweiser’s “Bow Tie” can) get bonus points.
3. Accessibility – Apple was one of the first stores that let you play with their products. Sephora was the first in beauty that didn’t keep expensive products out of customer reach either. Giving millennials the option to engage in your product goes a long way in creating customer loyalty – but so does making it easier for them to shop your brand. Take for example, Walmart’s plan to open “smaller versions of its stores on college campuses.”
If you’re trying to get into the millennial mind, know that this group prefers mobile-friendly content and shortened copy. The language has to be more conversational. It should be direct and engaging and come out in short paragraph bursts. Mobile-loving millennials also prefer video and images to content, which is why you see those social platforms performing the best among a millennial audience. And of course, a strong social presence is non-negotiable.
For any business that’s so far off the millennial path itself, the simplest and most effective solution is to hire a trend-savvy millennial. Make them part of an integrated team and take their opinion seriously. They’re going to come up with more out of the box ideas, but you should be listening because they’re speaking for their generation. Yet, when it comes down to it, being a millennial isn’t so much about age as it is about attitude. A millennial attitude is about wanting to be involved rather than just showing up for work. It’s about wanting a voice rather than being told what to think. It’s about flexibility, transparency, and value. Millennials want all these things, no matter whether they’re 18 or 35.
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