Millennials are the primary focus for advertisers for the past five years because all of them are in the “working adults” range. The youngest Millennial is 25 and likely just graduated from college, while the other end of the spectrum just hit their 40s. To truly gain this demographic’s attention, businesses need to create a brand that puts their customers first.
What Used to Work Doesn’t
Trends come and go, and different demographics will respond better to various campaigns. However, one marketing trick that went out of style for the Millennial generation is “cause marketing,” which is the concept of selling items backed by a charity. Selling this way has become less relevant than in the past, not because Millenials don’t care, but they see it as manipulative.
Millennials want to help the less fortunate, but most of them aren’t in the position to give to charity. With rising house prices, job insecurity, and competition for high-paying jobs, few millennials have access to the same amount of disposable income; and the minimum wage’s stagnancy doesn’t help either. To market to the Millennial, you need to prove you’re worth the money. The best way to do this is by creating a personal connection with them.
Why Millenials Value Social Connection
All humans value social connection, that’s a given, but generations in the past didn’t view a corporation as a total entity. Businesses on social media have started to monitor mentions with a social listening tool to understand how Millennials view their products, but often the focus isn’t on what they buy. They’re more concerned with whether your company’s values match theirs.
A way for Millennials to understand a business’s value is by engaging with their social media account. If a brand stays silent, it indicates they’re only concern is profit. As a business or corporation, you hold a power that the average Millennial doesn’t. Whether you’re a small storefront or a mega-corporation, you are in the position of privilege just by being seen.
The Demand for Corporate Responsibility
Businesses are valuable to any society because they fuel the economy by offering jobs and paying taxes. However, businesses aren’t just a building with a sign anymore. Companies now have a social responsibility to uphold, and Millenials (and Gen Zers) expect you to stand for something. Taking any political position is risky for any business because it alienates some customers, but if you’re sincere in your support for a cause, your customers will notice you.
Ben & Jerry’s showed their support for the Black Lives Matter movement when they uploaded a picture of a black background with white bolded font that read “BLACK LIVES MATTER.” Ben & Jerry’s asked their followers to read their statement on their website, in which they declared that “Silence is NOT an Option” and went into full detail on why they support the BLM movement.
Did Ben & Jerry lose followers over this? Yes, but staying silent would have made this brand tone death. When everyone is talking about a movement, staying silent is suspicious to Millennials because it tells them you don’t care. Plenty of marketing agencies and BLM supporters praised this post, and they garnered more followers than they could have ever lost. Why? Because they were sincere, knowledgeable on the topic, and took a firm stand.
Authenticity is Important to Millennials
Brand authenticity is more important than ever, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with current causes, whether that’s climate change, sustainability, or social change. Staying firm and sincere on a topic will gain the trust of your customers, who will engage more and stay loyal. To truly be relevant in your niche, you have to differentiate by being unique and serving a purpose.
Millennials grew up in a world of transparency where everyone and everything is knowable, so don’t try to pull the wool over their eyes to sell your products. Keep Millenials on your side by staying honest, sticking to your guns, and engaging with the troubling issues of our time.
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