“Do I need to make something unique for Millennials?” you might ask. The answer is a huge yes, given that Millennials are now the largest adult cohort worldwide, surpassing the baby boomer generation.
It would be appropriate for marketers to catch on to the fact that each consumer generation requires a different marketing strategy. Millennials today make up almost 22% of retail spend in the UK, and this figure is expected to increase to 28% by 2030.* Therefore, thriving among Millennials is absolutely crucial for retailers to remain strong and competitive. However, it is also challenging as it requires honesty, quality, and courage.
Let’s review some of the critical steps you need to take as a marketer to attract and retain Millennials.
Don’t refrain from making a statement with your brand messages and taking a stand on social and environmental matters
As marketers become keen to attract this critical generation, firstly, they need to look at their corporate values, mission, and vision. Needless to say, these three can no longer be just some buzzwords on the walls, they need to be meaningful and genuine.
Millennials prefer brands that not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. If you are genuinely interested in making a real connection with Millennials, it is essential that you create consistent and sensitive messages and earn their trust. If your brand remains unresponsive to significant world matters and social or environmental crises, you are not perceived as a neutral brand but instead as a brand taking sides with opposite views. Taking a solid stand in controversial matters is one of the key factors in creating a lifelong relationship with Millennials.
Let’s get more specific and give an example of a brand that succeeded in this.
Nike ‘Dream Crazy’ Campaign
As a global shoe-market leader, Nike has been investing heavily in sports branding via sponsoring players like Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Neymar, Lebron James, Lance Armstrong, and many more to promote its products.
In 2016, Colin Kaepernick, an American football player, decided to take a knee to protest against racism and police brutality instead of standing up during the American national anthem playing before a game. This action caused an outrage country-wide, costing Kaepernick his NFL career.
The controversial Nike campaign ‘Dream Crazy’ took place in September 2018 when Nike used Kaepernick as the face and voice of a video campaign for its 30th Anniversary of “Just Do It.” This led to an extensive boycott of Nike with some big outbursts, and this campaign eventually gained international attention.
While Nike was rapidly losing sales at the time and share values were dropping drastically, suddenly, the tide turned. Those who identify as “anti-racists” started supporting Nike, including the people of color posting Nike products and celebrities like Jim Carrey supporting Nike on national TV.
Eventually, Nike broke records, gains of $6 Billion in brand value, $163 Million in media earned, and a sharp increase of 31% in sales.
This is an excellent example of taking a stand on what you believe as a brand.
As Nike says, ‘Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything. #JustDoIt‘.
Resource: The Guardian
Create multichannel and authentic experiences
It is less likely to thrive on Millennial loyalty only through affordable pricing. While Millennials may seem very price sensitive, they are, in fact, more sensitive to the authentic and frictionless experiences you provide across channels, as well as the reliability and integrity you promise and deliver.
Millennials are very active social media users, which makes TV commercials and traditional advertising a less practical part of marketing efforts in reaching them. According to CBRE research, 62% of Millennials are more likely to become loyal customers when a brand engages them on social networks. Your social media presence is vital if you are interested in being a love brand for Millennials. Instead of spending a large share of your marketing budget on TV commercials, you can spare it for a 360-degree social media presence catering to each social media channel and creating authentic content using new formats and product features. Unconventional ways would be great at catching their attention in the forever-scrolling world of the internet. While it may be challenging to keep up with every new emerging platform, focusing on where your target audience is most present would optimize your efforts.
As more and more people follow your brand in Millennials’ inner social circle, they will be exposed to WOM more often and trust your brand more, leading to stronger bonds and good feelings about your brand.
According to a Deloitte survey on luxury shopping, it is seen that brands must offer unique experiences to get ahead in the competition. The great challenge for brands that desire to attain Millennials is the means of communication, as this generation is shifting preferences, and no single channel is predominant. Nevertheless, the rise of online seems already inevitable. ‘Digital Native’ start-ups are shaking up the industry and embracing online opinion sharing, customer ratings, reviews, and influencers who create a conversation between brands and potential customers through social multimedia. Millennials believe that user-generated content is 50% more trustworthy than branded imagery, as per the recent CBRE research. This shows us that using technology to cater to millennial shoppers efficiently is imperative for brands.
Foster brand loyalty with continuous practices and customized loyalty programs based on customers’ values and needs
As Millennials have grown up with video games, they are great fans of gamification as adults. Emphasizing rewards rather than discounts in loyalty programs and giving them the chance to “unlock new achievements” as tier rewards would be a great element for stronger bonds.
In addition, as a generation predominantly led by dopamine and instant gratification, it is hard for Millennials to stay off of smartphones in general. Therefore designing a smart loyalty program with real value that enables making purchases and earning rewards anytime, anywhere, with a single click would look appealing.
An ideal and lucrative loyalty program for Millennials should better include exclusive rewards (limited offers, members-only/tiers-only products), free shipping, new and exciting offers that change periodically, premium customer service for selected tiers, surprise gifts showing a brand’s gratitude, referral rewards, and an easy way to start, onboard and use such as a mobile application.
According to the “The truth about customer loyalty” study by KPMG, 81% of Millennials say their membership in a loyalty program increases their spending with the company concerned – compared to just 66 percent of Baby Boomers. The study also indicates that ease of use, clear purpose, more visibility, and a good cause are important factors for creating a successful loyalty program that attracts Millennials.
Tom Herbert (KPMG, USA) states, “Millennials are seen as having a sense of entitlement, but this is a misunderstanding. They like to use technology to do things smart’, and this is now available, encouraging them to try out new things.”
In conclusion, the future looks bright for marketers willing to create an emotional connection with Millennials and meet their expectations from a loyalty program. Remember that Millennials are a generation that likes skipping the line and ordering ahead via the loyalty program — and they are also the ones to claim their free birthday gifts right away. That said, flexibility, visibility, and convenience remain the primary ingredients.