5 Steps To Engage Millennials — Brand Champs

Blog Millennials BC Feb blogAuthenticity, Not Interception – Engaging Millennials, a media-savvy generation comprising 27% of the U.S. population, requires an approach that marketers have traditionally not embraced . . . an approach about authenticity and transparency, not interception.

Millennials are always multi-tasking . . . many of them multi-task using multiple screens and multiple devices at the same time. This is a generation that grew up with the Internet. They’re used to checking online before buying something. And, they expect a seamless online experience regardless of the device they’re using.

Another consequence of growing up with the Internet is that Millennials prefer democratic, collaborative processes. They love being part of a team . . . they want to participate and they want their views to be heard.

Millennial Power – By 2020, Millennials will have $1.4 trillion in spending power in the U.S. They’re educated with an innate understanding of marketing and of their power over and value to brands. Millennials are significantly more likely than older generations to believe they have the capacity to help a brand succeed or fail.

Millennials As Brand Advocates – According to the Hashtag Nation “Marketing to the Selfie Generation” study, Millennials will advocate for brands they love . . .

  • 59% will “Like” the brand on Facebook
  • 57% will get involved in direct advocacy
  • 54% will purchase a that brand’s products in-store
  • 48% will buy that brand’s products online
  • Yet, 40% of Millennials complain brands don’t take them seriously. Don’t want to be “one of those brands?” Then, keep reading . . .

Brand Success – 5 Steps To Engage Millennials

  1. Make It Authentic – If your story is organic and not synthetic, it’ll engage Millennials. Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear #Seetherealme effort, for example, is an unscripted integrated digital and social campaign that showcases real-life teenage girls struggling with their skin issues.  The 19-part YouTube series has done phenomenally well because it touches a chord with young Millennial females. The bonus? It made the girls feel involved . . . it gave them a voice.
  1. Support causes that are important to Millennials — Millennials are constantly on the lookout for brands that align with their values and allow them to actively make a difference in their everyday lives. TOMS is doing a great job with this type of marketing.  The TOMS “One for One” campaign is one of the most successful cause brand campaigns. TOMS is winning with Millennials by engaging them in innovative ways, encouraging them to share their stories and marketing a cause that’s different.

The TOMS “One for One” campaign is so successful with Millennials because TOMS provides an individualized toolkit for participation and Millennials are encouraged to share their stories and engage in open dialogues about the cause instead of the product. TOMS is now considered a movement by Millennials . . . not just a company.

  1. Create experiences — Millennials buy stuff for reasons that are different from GenX and Baby Boomers. They buy things they can tell others about. They buy things because of what those purchases say about them. This explains why Millennials spend money on experiences.  The traditional advertising route won’t work with Millennials. Brands that are engaging Millennials are shifting their marketing dollars to events where Millennials can experience the brand. Chipotle is engaging Millennials through offline and online events.

In 2011, Chipotle launched Cultivate — Food, Ideas & Music Festival. In the first year, more than 17,000 attended and attendance continues to grow. The Festival features live music and chefs from around the country. Attendees are also educated about responsible farming.

Chipotle’s content marketing takes on industrial farming with their video “Back to the Start, which depicts the life of a farmer as he slowly turns his family farm into an industrial animal factory before seeing the error of his ways and opting for a more sustainable future.

Chipotle’s offline and online experiences motivate Millennials to have a relationship with Chipotle . . . to eat at Chipotle, share Chipotle stories with their friends and collaborate in advocating for the importance of developing a sustainable food system.

  1. Provide opportunities for them to interact — Millennials have the need to share their lives online and in-person with friends, family and the general public.

Starbucks is doing a great job with this! Campaigns like Tweet-a-Coffee and the Starbucks app allow Millennials to use social media to share coffee and connect with each other. Starbucks locations encourage face-to-face interactions with their cozy seating arrangements and high-top tables that create a feeling of community. Starbucks Millennial marketing is successful . . . it ranks highly among Millennials in terms of brand equity, according to Goldman Sachs.

  1. Include them in decision-making — As Millennials age, it will be crucial for brands to continue conversations with them using insight communities and other engagement tools.

Millennials want to be included in the decision-making process beyond focus groups or social media. They want to be brought in as respected thought leaders to help contribute ideas and develop concepts and strategies. They want to get their voices heard in the early stages of a campaign or new product development.

Use These Steps To Engage Millennials — If you want to engage Millennials, your brand needs to make it authentic; support causes that are important to them; create experiences; provide opportunities for them to interact; and include them in decision-making. The result? Brand success.

Fran P4W copyFran Lytle is a behaviorist, brand strategist, author & co-founder of Brand Champs.  Fran develops brand strategy, emotional brand storytelling, content marketing & social media programs that engage people by applying psychology & human and gender-specific behavior.  She specializes in developing & implementing marketing-to-women programs. Contact her at fran@brandchamps.com connect with Fran on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.