Does entitlement come to mind when thinking about Millennials? Strike that word from your perspective because powerful should be the adjective that best describes them.
Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released last year by the U.S. Census Bureau. This leads to what Accenture estimates as $600 billion a year spending power.
The elusive Millennial.
Millennials are the most diverse generation to have ever existed. You’ll find Millennials consist of everyone from single mothers to middle-class professionals. They live and work in every social class and industry.
Have you already lost the scent?
You as marketers must think in terms of these various segments, rather than demographics. Millennials are not sticking with the big-name brands. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, would do this because they felt more secure in sticking with a brand they knew. Millennials value authenticity over everything else. They’re more likely to listen to a fellow consumer, as opposed to promotional copy.
How do you capture the powerful Millennial?
As marketers, we know we MUST actively win brand loyalty and hold it. This task is even more critical when appealing to the Millennial crowd. This requires constant, meaningful engagement. Here are four ways your brand can be authentic:
Communicate – A brand needs to interact, engage, and communicate with Millennials. You don’t have to respond to every single notification, but you can’t ignore them all either. Social media provides your buyers with a voice, so you need to have one in response.
Be transparent – Have a culture that allows your buyers to see what’s happening behind the curtain. Whether we are a Millennial or not, we all love to see behind the scenes. Reality TV, open kitchens, movie outtakes, “the making of” documentaries…these are all examples catering to our desire to see things as they really are. Make sure your brand has some of this flavor.
Be relevant – Your brand should produce content that lines up with the needs, wants, and goals of Millennials. Keeping relevant takes commitment and constant change and awareness of society trends. These are not easy tasks, but they are well worth the effort.
Care – The best thing your business can do to prove your authenticity is to care—not just about Millennials, but about your brand. Prove that you’re more concerned with providing something of value instead of trying to make a quick buck. Look at successful companies like Tom’s shoes, Ben & Jerry’s, and Burt’s Bees. They each have a story and are committed to something greater than their brand.
Brands must provide experiences!
Millennials want experiences because these make them happier and are as valuable, if not more so, than buying things. They want to spend their money on living rather than having. This idea of experience being more valuable than possessions is here to stay because Millennials are influencing the way the next generation perceives value.
Content sharing is absolute. Millennials are as quick to share a photo from a friend as they are a branded video they found entertaining. They share content because it’s funny, and they identify with it. Thus, it provides value to them and reaches them in an authentic and transparent way.
Let’s look at Pabst Blue Ribbon, a company that has embraced the Millennial. While the brand had a resurgence from the hipster crowd drinking a PBR to be “ironic,” the powerful Millennial has helped catapult the brand’s production up from a few million barrels to 90 million barrels, according to data from Euromonitor.
So how did PBR get it right?
The brand didn’t pressure consumers with traditional advertising campaigns. They went in the opposite direction. The marketers focused on experiences that millennials have had with the brand.
One example of this is the PBRART Contest in which people interpret the brand with their own artistic spin. The brand showcases individuality through art. It celebrates the brand AND the consumer. Each submission tells the story of the artist and how he or she experiences the brand, like Vincent who quips, “I only drink PBR when I’m painting, I always have and always will.” You can share submissions on social media, download them as wallpaper and connect with the artist.
The focus shifts from the product to the consumer. For PBR, it’s “all about you.” Of course, it can be said that the experience wouldn’t have existed in the first place without the fundamental product.
This one non-traditional marketing idea provides an experience that showcases self-expression, and provides interaction with friends and community, all the while building authenticity.
Additionally, Pabst has taken their experience on the road with Pabst Wax the mobile recording studio that records straight to vinyl. Musicians, music enthusiasts, and bands can record demos, post the sessions to friends, music execs, and fans on social media while getting their sound heard. It’s music, beer, and passion wrapped up in one experience, quietly building brand loyalty from the elusive Millennial.
With this legendary combination of music and beer, PBR understanding the struggle of musicians and supports burgeoning talent through programs like Music Society and BandAidRx. A brand showing that it cares beyond selling a product and its bottom line fits right in with the values of Millennials.
Pabst Blue Ribbon is providing an emotional and authentic connection to the all-powerful Millennial by supporting causes that resonate with Millennials, reinforcing their need to have purpose and make a difference.
So now it’s your turn.
Start seeing the Millennials as the power house consumers that they are. Communicate with them. Be transparent. Be relevant