The Millennial: A Tough Customer

There is some argument as to exactly where Millennials begin and end but it’s safe to say that, almost without anyone realizing it, the kids of the late 80s, the 90s and the very early 2000s have grown up to become the largest group of consumers in the marketplace today. The Millennial Generation, especially the early ones, have grown up with the internet, literally.

They were born into and live in the information age and see it as natural to get any information they want on demand, usually within seconds to a minute. They have become accustomed to real-time responses from their favourite brands with online shoppers claiming that valuing their time is the most important thing a brand can do for them. Add social media into this merry mix and things have become extremely complicated and demanding for marketers.

Constantly switching between laptop, phone and TV has become habitual for most of us, yes even the non-Millennials. So, brands need to market and connect with consumers across multiple devices and social channels. In addition, as a result of being bombarded with information, the Millennial attention span is minimal, with some quipping that a competition with goldfish is in the offing. This means that websites and other digital platforms need to have clean, easy to use interfaces with tons of information displayed in an uncluttered fashion. Millennials don’t fall for the marketing gimmicks of yesterday and they expect brands to have an informal and honest attitude when dealing with customers.

Millennials like to engage with brands and their peers through tweets, texts, posts and Instagrams and not in any traditional manner. So, as a marketer, if you’re not speaking to your Millennial audience on their preferred platforms, in their native tongues and with complete authenticity or at least the air of complete authenticity :-P, then you are sure to be out of luck because say, ‘hello’ to the Social Warrior. They’re the armchair generals of the age only with the ability to inflict actual damage by weighing in on ‘social opinion’, even directing it.

While all of the demands that Millennials place on their brands of choice have made the marketplace a battlefield for marketers, the demanding nature of Millennials means that plenty of good is coming out of it as well. They’re socially conscious and really want to make a difference or at least feel that they are part of a movement that is making a difference. This means a healthy scepticism of overt sales tactics and a demand that their brands of choice act responsibly and become intimately involved in addressing the social issues of the day. For this reason, a brand that wants success in the marketplace will do well to choose and align themselves with a good cause, donating portions of profits or fundraising through promotional events.

All of these new demands might seem gloomy at face value, but there’s a very positive side to it too. You see, Millennials are a paradox. They are sceptical to overtness and fakery but they are by far the generation most open and receptive to advertising, partly because of their own voracious curiosity and also because the digital platforms with which they engage are a marketer’s dream. Whether they like it or not, Millennials can be reached.

Products and services today are more saleable in the market place than ever been before. In addition to this, post campaign launch, the audience themselves will do a lot of the work for you through content sharing, which has become a new kind of proclamation of self and values. Through it, consumers express their beliefs, who they are and the image that they want to project to the world.

Millennials, unlike generations before them, were largely brought up to believe that they can do anything and that they are special. This means a serious need for personalization of marketing content for this demographic and this is now easily achieved through various social platforms and a little bit of ingenuity on the part of the marketer. They value success, happiness, curiosity, enjoyment and passion and this drives how they engage with the brands of their choice. They want fun and engaging content and it never hurts to throw in a bit of wit and humour.

With the changes that we have seen in the last 30 years, the marketplace has evolved and changed. It has become simpler and more complex at the same time. While this means that it has never before been more difficult to market a product or a service. It also means that it has never before been easier to do so. The marketplace today, especially the Millennial demographic, is more ripe and receptive than it has ever been before.

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