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Marketing to Millennials:
Millennials, those born between 1982 and 2004, seem to be garnering a lot of attention from marketers lately. This is partly because they are the largest generation in history, comprising some 76.6 million people, and partly because they seem to buck the trend like no other generation has when it comes to, well, everything. Traditional marketing attempts to insert a product into a daily situation or associate with a life marker, such as having kids, buying a house, or getting married. Unfortunately, these kinds of marketing have failed to capture the millennial audience, who does not necessarily care about these traditional life markers and who do not see daily life in the same way as older generations.
For many millennials, home ownership and marriage are signs of a time better forgotten, as they have no interest in either. So marketing designed to bring these moments to life mean little. Millennials also do not necessarily view daily life in the same way as older generations. We are seeing more companies open up to the idea of telecommuting and non-traditional work days to accommodate the expectations of millennials. Many millennials are also living a “less is more” lifestyle – look at the boom of “tiny homes” and “small living” in general. So targeting a millennial with daily situations in office life, for instance, may not hit the mark.
But most importantly, millennials take in the world differently than any other generation has, in some very radical ways. Aside from, perhaps, the oldest of the millennial generation, all were raised on home computers and had cell phones at early ages. They have known nothing but a life connected to information. They have been a part of their decision-making processes in a unique way that older generations were not. And they have used this information to form strong opinions about the world around them – and what they can do to help it.
So when marketing to millennials, it is important to take all of this into account. Waiting for millennials to fall in line is not going to work; instead, marketers need to adapt. First, they need to bring millennials into the process – don’t market to them, give them information and ways to be involved in the process. Next, find a cause that matters to this generation. Millennials seem to want to help, and will pay for services that fix a perceived world problem. And last, find a way to speak to the daily life and lifestyles of millennials, even if that is foreign to anything we’ve ever seen in marketing.
There are plenty of companies which have done an incredible job of marketing to millennials, but they have all done it by going outside of standard marketing practices and remaining adaptable. But for those companies, the fruits of their labor were well worth the efforts.
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