How to Make Your Brand Work for Millennials


It’s no secret that the marketplace today is vastly different from yesterday’s, and the intensity at which that is true indicates that we’re in store for even greater change come tomorrow’s. 

As an agency, STARMEN creates brand experiences every day to appeal to a wide variety of audiences, and the strategies developed from each endeavor are carefully crafted so our clients and their products receive the maximum exposure necessary to create movement. Whether that translates into social action, amplified brand awareness, or product sales, there is considerable variance in the methodologies through which each demographic is best attained.

One such target market we’ve studied extensively is the millennials. Aged 18 to 33, these individuals are coming of age, and coming together in ways never thought possible.  Often referred to as the “me” generation, millennials are frequently beleaguered with claims of a poor work ethic, technological dependency, and overall arrogance. 

But ask Snapchat CEO, Evan Siegel, and he’ll tell you that sense of entitlement is truly just his generation’s way of carving their own way through the world they are ever so slowly inheriting. It is for this very reason that millennials are impossible to ignore, and essential to truly understand. 

Here, STARMEN has identified three key objectives that make marketing to and engaging with this demographic a most rewarding endeavor:

First and foremost, master mobile.

Without question, the gentlemen and women of Gen Y go for it in life with gusto, and they are unapologetic about their place in the world. Adventure-seeking, independent, and tech-savvy, this population is as diverse as they come, but one vital element unifies them all: mobility. 

However, it’s worth noting that these active creatures are not the movers and shakers of their parents’ generation. Steadfast in their ambitions, millennials are taking the world by storm, and they won’t let anyone or anything -- not societal norms, crushing student debt, or perhaps least of all, their parents’ expectations -- stand in their way. 

And with them at every step  -- or at least 88% of them! - is a mobile device that connects them to the rest of the world in increasingly new ways. It is precisely this camaraderie between man and mobile machine that makes marketing to millennials a uniquely challenging operation. 

Thus, we think the best medium for reaching your consumers is through their trusted mobile sidekicks. This could mean you have a well-designed mobile website presence or that you’ve strategically placed ads on other mobile entities. It could mean you’re active on social media, tapping into the daily lives of millennials through comments and likes. 

Or it could mean you craft a targeted campaign that integrates your product into mobile entertainment content. Whatever your methodology, mastering the mobile landscape is essential for reaching millennials. Plain and simple.

Focus on the long-term over the short.

If your brand is having trouble communicating with this generation, it may be time to rethink your approach. As a group, millennials will not take kindly to a hard sell, particularly one for a brand or product they can’t directly relate to. Additionally, they can smell phoniness from a mile away, so your best bet is to focus on building a real, long-term rapport with this generation. Connect with them on a human level

While this may mean the point of sale -- the coveted return on your investment -- comes at a later time, the extent to which your company builds an authentic relationship with millennial consumers will ultimately mean the implementation of a truer, longer-term loyalty to your brand.

In other words, why be the brand they haphazardly toss into their cart on an impulse when you can be the one they drive to three different shops trying to track down? Millennials are nothing if not impassioned creatures, and that commitment will come back to you tenfold.

Tackle content in ways that prioritize connectivity over persuasion.

As a generation pillared by authenticity, millennials respond more positively and more deeply to content they perceive as being both relatable and aspirational. This means that oversaturated, highly-Photoshopped celebrity endorsements no longer plant the seed. Instead, the millennial audience seeks the opinions of their peers, a circle of confidence growing ever larger thanks to the prevalence of mobile technology and the interconnectivity provided by the Internet.

This also means that there’s room for a more conversational approach when crafting your campaigns. Successful campaigns of late have involved a shift in emphasis from the livelihoods of consumers to their personalities. Don’t talk at them, but with them. Make them laugh. Make them fall in love. Leave them in awe. Expose their quirky, mundane habits. Throw it back, and let them reminisce, or let them pitch in. Or both

Our takeaway point is this: appealing to their broader senses of self will help propel your brand further in the minds and hearts of millennials, and that’s the ultimate key to driving a long-term relationship with this class of consumers.

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