In Marketing

Millennials are cutting their cable cords; shunning new cars and avoiding brick and mortar retailers.  How can your business avoid being a casualty of this millennial market shift?

Here are four key areas you’ll want to consider next time you look for ways to build brand loyalty and encourage customer engagement with these key brand influencers.

Personalized Communication- The First Port of Call

Millennials don’t believe in traditional advertisement and will definitely not respond to old school “one size fits all” marketing. Because of the size of this generation – the largest market since the Boomers – they have grown up changing the world around them.  They are a generation that assumes things will be customized to their needs.  They are smart shoppers with elevated brand expectations. With so much going on in their fast-pace lives, millennials look to companies that can predict their needs and stay ahead of the game. Just take a look at the growing number of box subscription companies led by Dollar Shave Club, Blue Apron, and Stitch Fix. The war among personalized subscription services sent to the doorsteps of millennials is palpable. According to a McKinsey study, consumers continue to be more and more inclined to want personalized products delivered on a regular schedule. These services are generating more than $2.6 billion sales in 2016 with no end to their expansion in sight. 

Customer Service- Building Trust

Millennials are digitally savvy. They expect efficient customer service. And when they don’t receive it (inside or outside their virtual world), they will not remain quiet. Instead, they will jump onto social media to let everyone know how a brand failed them. And more importantly, they will go online anticipating an almost immediate and personalized response. In fact, young adults prefer e-commerce over old school shopping because online reviews are a critical element in their shopping decisions, according to a study published at the Independent.

They have similar expectations from traditional retailers.  One company that gets this is Trader Joe’s. If you have ever shopped at this grocery store, you will understand why Forbes referred to its customers as “fiercely loyal to the brand”. This grocery store is a top favorite among millennials thanks to their over-the top customers service, courteous staff and playful atmosphere. Not to mention the avant-garde decoration that makes the oldest millennials nostalgic for their childhoods and the days of That 70’s Show! 

Emotional Connection- Showing Your True Colors

In today’s world, it is not enough for brands to just sell a product or service. Millennial customers expect to see companies’ true colors about social issues to earn their respect and loyalty. In fact, nearly two-thirds of consumers worldwide will buy or boycott a company in reaction to their stand on social or political issues, according to Edelman’s 2018 Earned Brand study.  Millennials are a passionate generation that will embrace brands that share their values. They are especially attracted to companies with purpose and unique personality. Millennials believe a brand’s responsibility is to lead on the controversial issues that traditional brands wouldn’t touch.  As a result, many companies are doing exactly that. Take Nike for example, with its recent “Just Do It” 30th anniversary campaign featuring former 49ers quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Or Gillette’s, “Boys will be Boys” effort to tackle what they call “toxic masculinity.”

Social Media-Speaking Their Language

Social media is the obvious go-to marketing platform for reaching out to these digital natives, but it is not just about using social media as another broadcast channel. Effective marketers know it’s not just about posting; it’s about engaging.

The key elements are quality content, targeted distribution and timing. Savvy marketers must know how to speak a language that is genuine. La Croix, for instance, is a brand that evokes millennials’ passionate nature by inviting customers to tag their Instagram photos with #Lacroix, and making customers the stars of the company’s feed. Lacroix is giving millennial users the social media attention they crave.

Darwin cautioned, “Adapt or die.” Today’s marketers need to make that advice to heart.  When society, technology and consumers’ behaviors are evolving faster than a brand’s ability to adapt, it faces the same fate as these five industries that are casualties of the “millennial effect.”  All provide cautionary tales – adapt or go dinosaur?  You decide.

Pamela Laguardia is a member of the #MillennialPrinciple team

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