Who Are the Millennials?

Millennials are the generation born anywhere from the mid 1980’s through the early 2000’s, although some researchers include those born as early as 1977. Twenty-five percent of the US population at peak spending age, this group has become a prime marketing target.  Millennials make up 21% of consumer purchases, estimated to be over a trillion dollars.  Their buying power has a tremendous impact on older generations for this reason.

Millennials (18 to 34-year-olds) are the audience to target.  They are young, they have money from parents or new jobs and are ready to spend it.  They are early adopters prepared to pounce on the newest mobile apps and other experimental technology.  More millennials are influencers on Vine, Snapchat, and YouTube than imaginable.  Many of them are making it big because they are young, beautiful, funny, and able to reach youth.

  • Millennials are more connected to influencers and brands on a regular basis, due to their heavy use of mobile devices.  67 percent of Millennials reported that they use smartphones to access the Internet.
  • Millennials engage more deeply with brands on social networks:
  • U.S. Millennials reported that they are most influenced by family, friends, and strangers, over “experts.”
  • Millennials identify with brands more personally and emotionally than do older generations.
  • Forty-eight percent of young Millennials reported that they “try to use brands of companies that are active in supporting social causes.
  • More than half of U.S. Millennials said that people seek them out for their knowledge and opinions of brands, compared with only 35 percent of boomers.
  • Even better, over 50 percent of U.S. Millennials said that they are willing to share their brand preferences on social media, compared with 31 percent of baby boomers.
  • U.S. Millennials are also more likely to be influenced by peers than are those of older consumers.  28 percent of younger Millennials and 23 percent of older Millennials said that they are more likely not to purchase or use brands that their friends disapprove of, as opposed to only 12 percent of boomers.

Marketing to Millennials: Important Stats

Certain ways of thinking differentiates the millennial generation from others, shaping the way brands and marketers approach the advertising landscape.

Millennials Need Purpose

  • Millennials care about brands who stand for more than the bottom line dollar
  • 37% of millennials are willing to pay a bit more for a product or service to support a cause they believe in
  • Millennials value brands that enhance their lives. “Useful is the new cool.”
  • New tech must serve a purpose in order to be considered “cool” and enhance lives.

Interactions with Brands

  • 80% of millennials want brands to entertain them
  • 40% want to participate in the co-creation of products and brands
  • 70% feel responsible to share feedback with companies after good or bad experiences.

Basic Tech Stats

  • 46% of millennials have 200+ Facebook friends, compared to 19% of non-millennials
  • Millennials are 2.5x more likely to be early adopters of technology
  • Millennials are content creators.  46% post content/ videos they have created themselves

Millennials and Influencer Marketing

These numbers are interesting, but let’s take a look at what they mean for marketers and brands hoping to reach incredible new heights this year in business.  First, it means that millennials should not to be overlooked, and you can benefit greatly if they are a primary focus of your social media and influencer marketing campaigns.  Considering going a standard route with online ads or even offline billboards or TV ads?  Think again, millennials are too progressive with early tech adoption to have anything to do with antiquated marketing methods (yes, even online ads are now considered antiquated).

1. Influencers are the way.

If you wish to gain the attention of millennials and win them over with your brands’ products and mission, social media marketing through influencers is a sure fire way.  They are the only ones who influences millennials effectively. Recommendations from influencers are more highly trusted than those coming straight from brands themselves (92% according to Nielson Research).  Although there is no harm directly marketing to millennials or anyone else for that matter, you do not stand to gain as much as you will sending out your desired message through popular social medialites (aka social media influencers).

2. Meet millennials where they are 

Millennials are on top of the latest technology.  As early adopters, they try anything. The more popular platforms and technology you use, the better.  For example, Vine, Snapchat, and Livestreaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat should be considered in any social media influencer campaign.  Millennials are hanging out in these places, learning to navigate the newest apps inside and out.  Ignoring tech you are unfamiliar with would be a massive fail, but embracing it and its infamous millennial community will set you up for success

3. Speak to their hearts

What is your brand’s cause?  Are you a social entrepreneurship with a message to save the world through your green products, or donations to a worthy non-profit cause from every purchase of your organic products?  Perhaps you have a heart-felt story to tell about your brand’s humble beginnings that shows people how awesome your brand is, and gives them reason to learn more about your product that will greatly improve their lives.

Whatever causes your brand stands behind, it will be heard louder if shared through a social media influencer.  Think of it this way; influencers are like the cool and popular kids at school that everyone wants to be like.  All the kids want to look like them, dress like them, be just like them.  Anything the influencers wear, do, buy, have, say, millennials will take into consideration in their consumer decisions more than from any other source.

Making the Most of Your Influencer Campaigns with Millennial & Gen-Z Targeting:

Every company knows who their target consumer audience is, in general.  They are familiar with age, gender, location, interests, internet engagement, spending behaviors of customers within their niche industry.  Some brands even construct a customer avatar, a persona of someone who buys their services or products including their name, a picture of their life, and belief system.  Such marketing techniques that help us understand the customer are essential to bridge the gap between brand offerings and actual customer sales.

In other words, you need to know your customers inside and out in order to know how to market to them so they will buy from you.

Brands are increasingly abandoning their customer avatar for greener pastures.  They don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater by any means but flow with the trends, and one of the biggest trends is to target Millennial and Gen-Z generations.  Targeting individuals within a certain industry and niche is still crucial, but times they are a changin’, and there is a marketing movement in which brands are targeting these younger generations, for excellent reason.

Who are the Generation Z?

This younger generation between high school and college age (born in the late 1990s through the mid-2010s) is one for your brand to pay attention to and get to know.  Gen Z will make decisions for our country one day, an assumption we make of any generation, but Gen Z is paving a new path.  Gen Z is shaping the world and influencing public and consumer thoughts and decisions before they’ve graduated from college.  They are children raised on raw vegan paleo wraps and Snapchat, a smartphone pacifier in their hands. Millennials were raised on coco puffs and Twitter, an iPad for movies.  The minute differences in the internet and social media in the years between these two generations have created the Gen-Z phenomenon.

  • Generation Z is smart, global and only influenced by their peers.
  • Selling brand products through YouTubers vs. brands will win Gen Z consumers.
  • BS doesn’t work on this crowd.
  • Digital technology is Gen Z’s playground.
  • They have $44 billion in annual purchasing power in the USA alone.
  • Gen Z’s reject TV, email and the fake world of celebrity.

In conclusion, these two groups of teenagers and young adults have massive purchasing power, and smart brands have clued in.  While older gen’s are still a primary market and often the target for many brands depending on industry and products, many of these stats don’t hold for older folks.  Influencer marketing campaigns are practically a cake walk when focused on the younger gen’s because of their virtual existence and attachment to technology.

How Influencer Marketing Reaches Millennials

Talk the talk, walk the walk:

These generations are nothing if not genuine and transparent.  They won’t buy bullshit unless they love the game Cards Against Humanity, and even then it’s a one-off.  Brands must speak to the hearts, minds, and belief systems that drive Millennials and Gen-Zers.  Think about it- how does it feel when someone a decade or two older than you uses a term that you have never heard of, or only heard once upon a time in I Love Lucy, like Daddy-O?  Do you cringe a little?  I do.  It’s not that I don’t want to connect with older generations, but when they use old terminology, it feels that they are not working to connect with me or younger generations.

A brand’s marketing duty is to meet customers where they are, and often that refers to images, videos, models, copy, and more.  For example, “GE has been partnering with influencers to target Gen Z and Alpha because they are the next employees or engineers that will work at the organization, or might even be its next customers or investors.” (PR Weekly)

  • Use Millennial and Gen-Z Influencers in your campaigns – they listen to their peers
  • Incorporate fresh, generation-relevant terminology in your campaign’s copy
  • Build a market within these audiences if you don’t have one yet
  • Think: live stream, Snapchat, Vine, and other newer social media modalities

A Final Word:

Brands do not have to throw out their primary consumer focus entirely simply because the newer generations are ideal customers, but think: expanded audience.  Nothing has changed much in recent years from the 1980’s or 1990’s – kids, teenagers, and young adults remain some of the most profitable consumers out there.  The difference now is the internet and prolific use by younger generations.  This fact makes influencer marketing an ideal conduit when brands wish to reach their young audience.