The idea that millennials are brand averse is a myth. One glance at any millennial’s Instagram account, and you’ll likely find tags to brands they follow, buy or long for. Yet, even though 74 percent of them spend at least five hours a day looking at content online, they can be a generation of consumers with whom companies find it difficult to connect.
Millennials are the first “digitally native” generation, according to a Brookings Institute report. They grew up with the internet, social media and the growth of digital marketing, and 57 percent of them are smart about blocking ad content.
But other statistics from Brookings point out the necessity for companies to figure out a way to connect with this generation. First, they have buying power: This group has a combined income that is expected to grow to more than $4 trillion by 2030. For the foreseeable future, these consumers will be shaping the economy, not only in the United States, but across the globe.
Play to their values
What matters to millennials is far different from what’s important to older generations. Millennials are willing to pay more for personal interests and on a brand that they feel will help them accomplish their goals.
Millennials’ reluctance to purchase a home or car has led to rise of the sharing economy, according to a recent report by the Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research. This group of consumers turns to Uber, Lyft or bike rental stations in major metropolitan areas to gain access to products without purchasing them.
Go mobile or go home
Millennials greatly value the opinion of others, and those opinions are often found on their mobile devices — 85 percent of them own a smartphone. Companies, therefore, should optimize their websites for mobile devices and make sure they interact with their customers on social media.
According to Goldman Sachs, 57 percent of millennials compare prices online, and most of them will make purchases online. Thirty-four percent turn to their social networks before making a purchase, saying that “when a brand uses social media, I like that brand more.”
Make millennials your brand ambassadors
If millennials are heading to social media to learn about a brand, then companies should interact with them online. When millennials like a product, they tell their friends, even posting a picture of something — a car, a jacket, a pair of new shoes — and tagging the company. In fact, they rarely consume anything — food, beverages, services, products or media — without sharing it in a social media post and posting a review.
Southwest Airlines is an example of a company that has done a remarkable job connecting with younger travelers through their customer-friendly experience. And, with an active social media presence, Southwest is known for responding to consumers who communicate with them through those channels.
When it comes to millennials, companies need to meet this generation on their turf to start building brand loyalty and earn their business.
Kelly Borth is the CEO and chief strategy officer of GREENCREST, a 27-year-old brand development, strategic and online marketing and public relations firm that turns market players into industry leaders™. Kelly is one of 35 certified brand strategists in North America and works with companies to establish brands and build brand value for their businesses.