It’s true. As a Millennial I would much rather spend my money on an experience than a product. And marketers that show us products that create experiences get my attention – and my dollars. As I scroll through my Instagram feed I see proof of that everywhere.
Let’s just talk restaurants. I see endless posts of food, selfies and scenery. Some posts stand out to me because it looks like the person is having a great time while eating delicious food. It’s safe to say that in the past two years I have found most of my new favorite food spots this way.
Marketing through Instagram makes the most of Millenials’ quest for experiences. Ever hear of Black Tap in New York City? If you’re anywhere on social media you have. Chances are you’ve seen posts of people drinking their giant milkshakes loaded with toppings. After just a year of opening, the owner and a social media manager created a trend that exploded their business. Today, they’ve got a line wrapped around the restaurant just to get at $15 milkshake. Why? Because people have seen the Black Tap experience on Instagram and they want to post their own pictures with it too.
Most people can’t finish the milkshake but that’s not the point. Their posts show them experiencing those shakes. The milkshake is “selfie-friendly” and creates a fun experience that customers are promoting without realizing. The concept behind the milkshake is that it’s shareable both literally and figuratively.
As a Millennial studying public relations I realized how social media influences us every day through marketing. Here’s how your company can take advantage of this trend to make us your customers:
1. Don’t push advertisements in our faces
The best way to market to Millenials is to avoid being too promotional. “Millennial consumers are turned off by feeling ‘sold to,’ especially on social media. Organizations that succeed on these platforms—and Instagram in particular—authentically portray lifestyles that appeal to their customers, instead of just offering up ads,” according to a recent article in PR Daily. What better way to do that than by having the Millennial do the promotion themselves? Here’s how that worked with me: I recently went to a new breakfast café and they had a flyer by the register. The flyer read “Post a picture of your waffle with #BeansandLeaves and receive 10 percent off your next purchase.” I thought “Wow, okay! My waffle looks really cool with all these toppings I’ll definitely post it, it’ll get likes and I’ll save money next time I come here.” What had that café done that worked so well with me? They encouraged me to mobilize my personal social network to spread awareness of their product.
2. The phone eats first
How many times have you seen a Millennial waiting for their food and the second it reaches their table they adjust the plate to achieve the perfect lighting and then take out their phone for a picture? Why? We want to take a perfect picture of our food because it’s “Instagram-worthy.” I have to admit I have done this more than one time. In a piece in the British online publication, The Independent, called “How Instagram has Transformed The Restaurant Industry for Millennials,” the author says, “18-35-year-olds spend five whole days a year browsing food images on Instagram, and 30 per cent would avoid a restaurant if their Instagram presence was weak.” It’s sad to say but my friends and I have ordered our meals specifically because they would be visually pleasing and will look good on our social media.
3. We Love Giveaways
If you want to promote your product to as many Millennials as possible, doing a giveaway is your answer. I mean let’s be real; we’re college students on a budget. We love free stuff! Instagram giveaways are an amazing tactic to make the most of that. When doing a giveaway, give Millennials a reason to participate. Make sharing the post a part of the promotion. Ask them to tag three of their friends on social media in order qualify to participate. That way you get them to spread the word about your product. One important piece of advice: If you’re using Instagram make sure your photo is aesthetically pleasing. We scroll through Instagram fast and will pass by a photo quickly if it does not catch our eye. So, make sure when posting your product you create a unique picture that makes us stop to look at.
So yes, we Millennials not only like to eat food we like to share it online with friends. But we want the meal to be a good experience; one we want to share with our friends on social media. That makes it even better. We are attracted to things that look like fun and that are “social media worthy.” So, if you want to grab our attention and get us as customers remember that we want to see a product that’s more than a product – it’s a memorable, buzz-worthy and trendy experience.
Nikki Rubin is a member of the #MillenialPrinciple team