Millennials represent a nearly unparalleled market but at the same time they are also the most unusual and quirky demographic of all. In order to begin to understand their Millennial Minds, these top seven factoids should be kept foremost in mind while formulating any marketing strategy for this critically important albeit highly unorthodox generation.
1. They’re a quarter of the nation – You can’t deny the power of Millennials. After all there are 80 million of them, representing a quarter of the entire population of the United States and even outnumber the Baby Boomers. In order to tap into this generation you need to relate to who they are and what they want. Only if they believe that your brand is “one of them” will you achieve marketing success among Millennials.
2. Massively multicultural – Millennials are culturally diverse as only 61 percent are Caucasian, with 19 percent being Hispanic, 14 percent are Black, and 5 percent are Asian. Your standard white-bread marketing images of a generation ago will fall flat among Multicultural Millennials who are far more likely to relate to multicultural couples and family images.
3. Employment is not guaranteed – A remarkable 37 percent of the middle range Millennials (18 to 29 years of age) are unemployed which is the highest percentage among this age group since the recessions of the 80s. Even though they necessarily live in a tight money economy and environment they will spend what it takes to stay at the cutting edge of information technology. Therefore when marketing to Millennials, focus on the new, cool, hip, and socially interactive technology, rather than the necessities of earlier generations.
4. They live small – While previous generations marked their status and success by the size of their homes, the number of cars in their garages, and the perfection of their ample lawns, the Millennials tend to live in tiny urban quarters where conventional (non-electronic) belongings have been pared down to the absolute minimum. Furthermore, they tend to rent their residences with relatively few buying and taking on mortgages which they cannot afford. This is emphatically not the generation to be your primary market for luxurious cabin cruisers and grand dining room suites.
5. Marriage? What is that? – While 50 percent of the WWII generation, 40 percent of Baby Boomers, and 33 percent of the Generation Xers were married at their age, only 22 percent of the Millennials have walked down the aisle. They are also postponing starting families as US birth rates are now in the fourth year of decline, even though the population as a whole is increasing (through immigration). The parental experience is largely outside of their purview so recognize this generational fact and direct your marketing approach to the single adult and childless couple lifestyle.
6. Value is not an option – It may seem paradoxical that while most Millennials claim that they are very ecologically aware citizens, only a fairly small minority of them will buy organic produce and other food products since they almost always come at a price premium… and it is one that the tightly financed Millennials won’t pay. However, when it comes to having the latest iPhone or other electronic trinket, they usually manage to find the money. While the new iPhone is an image factor as well as a technological tool, spending an extra two dollars on an organic cauliflower fails to achieve any Millennial image advantage.
7. Don’t you dare try to sell anything – The easiest way to turn off a Millennial is to pitch them something to buy. They will run, not walk, away from anything that even remotely approaches a sales pitch. Your best approach is to engage the entire social circle of that particular Millennial so that the exhortation to purchase comes from their peers which they consider impeccable, never from you the brand which can be suspected of marketing subterfuge.
As a marketer from the GenX or Baby Boomer times you can be excused for thinking you’re marketing to extraterrestrials, but Millennials are not only very human, but are your single biggest market. Get to know them … and to love them!
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