How to market your brand to a millennial audience

The internet has no shortage of articles critiquing millennials as the grim reapers of established brands and industries. Are these fair assumptions? Firstly, it’s important to remember that “millennials” are people born between the years 1981 and 1996. This puts them in an age range of 23 – 38 years old. Older than you expected?

The truth is that the term “millennial” has become somewhat of a slur among older generations. It’s used by the previous era to complain about the next. In reality, consumer habits have changed across the board. While the younger generations may have led the charge, baby boomers have followed suit. The companies that failed did so because they didn’t adapt.

The question is: how can a company market their brand to a millennial audience? Or, more accurately, how have consumer habits changed, and how can we adapt?

Outbound to inbound

The most notable shift in marketing has been from outbound to inbound strategies. Today’s generations don’t like it when the company tries to force the conversation. If anything, they find it intrusive and are less likely to buy into the brand. Inbound marketing is about creating valuable content and experiences that attract customers organically. You can then nurture that customer relationship by building trust and demonstrating how you can solve their problems.

In simple terms, outbound marketing approaches a customer in the hope that they have a problem. Inbound marketing anticipates the problem of their target customer and starts to solve it before asking for something in return. This modern approach includes blogging, social media marketing, search engine optimisation, and a focus on analytics.

We discuss why PR might be the best way to capture Generation Z.

Transparency

In the past, consumers would make their purchasing decisions based on value, convenience, and the ability of a product to solve their problem. However, millennials have different priorities. One of the highest is transparency, and younger consumers are willing to shun businesses they think have something to hide. In broader terms, this relates to how much they can trust a brand.  

Social and ethical values also play a large part in this type of decision making. It’s no secret that some businesses have employed morally-grey production methods for a long time. Historically, there has been an unspoken “don’t ask, don’t tell” agreement between brands and consumers. If the product is cheap and convenient, it didn’t matter how it was made or sourced. Today, millennials are willing to pay more for a product they know has been produced ethically. If they can’t confirm this, they’ll move on to a brand that can prove it.

Champion a cause

The social awareness of millennials is something that can be tapped into when marketing your brand. By actively demonstrating that you care about the same things they do, you can boost your reputation. This could involve donating part of each sale to a charity or non-profit organisation. If you have the resources, you can even create your own social initiatives.  

However, millennials aren’t easily fooled by cynical attempts to cash-in on such movements. Make sure you choose a cause that resonates with your target audience and follow through with it. Promote it regularly through all channels and maintain a commitment to your chosen cause. Relevance and engagement are critical factors in this approach. If you fail to meet these standards, there’s a chance you’ll receive a negative response.

Stay social

It’s no secret that social media is integral to reaching a millennial audience. Brands need to understand that social media is more than just another advertising channel. The real value of social media lies in the connections you can make with your audience.  

First, you need to post a variety of relevant content, regularly. Your posts should be conversation starters. While it’s great to have your audience reacting with each other, that alone is insufficient. Your company should be actively involved, replying where possible and cultivating your brand’s image. Part of this relates to the transparency we mentioned earlier. It also helps display the human side of your brand.

We share a beginner’s guide for social media marketing.

Users feel like they’re interacting with a person, rather than a faceless corporation. It also helps to have your employees post relevant contact. Take LinkedIn, for example. Users react more positively to posts made by employees than the company account. This is even the case when the content is exactly the same.

The key takeaway

The businesses that millennials have “killed” failed for a reason – they didn’t adapt to changing consumer habits. The truth is, the resources are out there for every brand to evolve for the millennial audience. Even if millennials aren’t your target audience, these habits have spread to the older generation. If you haven’t begun to tailor your marketing strategy for modern consumers, now is the time to start.

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