Tag Archives: Millennials

Millennials & Transparency: Beyond Branding & Marketing

The millennial generation’s “self, society, and planet” ethos has had a big impact on branding and marketing practices. Their primary concern is transparency. As consumers, they want to understand how products are made, where they are sourced, and how they impact the communities that create and consume them. Brands who embrace transparency are able to build trust, convey authenticity, and gain the loyalty of this major demographic.
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How Brands Achieve Transparency & Attract Millennial Consumers

We recently explored how the millennial generation’s consumer ethos of “self, society, and planet” has impacted other demographics and encouraged brands to become more transparent about their product sourcing and social impact. This shift is perhaps most obvious when it comes to food labeling – after all, this is the generation that saw calorie counts added to fast food menus and prioritizes organic and local ingredients. However, today’s consumers want greater transparency for all products, not just those they literally consume.

In Inc., digital marketing entrepreneur Kenny Kline reports on the Label Insight Transparency ROI study that examines how transparency is vital in building trust with consumers and encouraging brand loyalty.
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Millennials Require Transparency in Branding & Marketing

Millennial Americans, those born between 1981 and 1996, are now the consumer demographic with the greatest spending power. They are a generation that grew up surrounded by rapid technological advancement and came of age at the start of the social media era. They are more likely than previous generations to be multicultural, tech-savvy, and socially engaged. Now, their preferences are shaping how brands market to and communicate with their target audiences.

Perhaps this shift is most obvious when it comes to food. Most millennials grew up eating processed foods and were children at the height of fast food’s prominence, gleefully collecting Happy Meal toys and making friends at the adjacent indoor PlayPlace. However, as young adults, they were the recipients (and sometimes engineers) of the changing trends toward organic, local, unprocessed food. Today, the primary value that millennials prize when eating is transparency.
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Multicultural Millennials: Building Relationships with Young Consumers

Recent insights from Nielsen reveal that “multicultural consumers are transforming the U.S. mainstream… (p)ropelled by the twin engines of population growth and expanded buying power.” I explored the Nielsen data in a previous post, reaching the conclusion that in order for brands to serve this rapidly growing segment of multicultural superconsumers, diversity must be more than just a buzzword. When diversity of experiences, voices, and viewpoints drives a brand’s identity, communications strategy, and product development, it can authentically and successfully resonate with a multicultural market.

In addition to embracing a diverse set of influences, how can brands reach the young consumers who are poised to become major market forces over the next decade? In a time when consumer trust in major public institutions (including business) has been compromised, brand builders must strive for authenticity, communication, and a purpose-driven approach.
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Marketing to Millennials: 3 Key Lessons from Lilly Pulitzers Branding

An estimated 80 to 90 million Millennials are in the United States, and they wield more purchasing power than you likely know. At approximately $1.3 trillion in annual buying power, it's clear Millennials aren't just avid consumers but avid influencers as well. Couple this power with their diverse viewpoints and lifestyles – and their frequent usage of evolving social media platforms – it's easy to see why many marketers spend a large amount of time figuring out how to best speak to this generation. 

So what do Millennials want? 

1. Personalization 

Whether it's videos on YouTube, sponsored Facebook content, or the “deals-of-the-day” promoted on Twitter, it's clear many marketing strategies catered to Millennials are heavily focused on social media.

When Lilly Pulitzer, the world famous women's boutique, set out to design a highly personalized marketing strategy for the Millennial generation, they started by analyzing the influence of the wide range of marketing projects that already existed. In an article in Harvard Business Review, Omar Artun explains,

“Data analytics helped us identify critical points in the customer life cycle and develop relevant marketing programs that best engage the Lilly girl in each situation. The team married insights from this platform with observations of stores and larger marketplace research.” 

While it's clear Millennials are interacting and engaging with one another on social media, simply placing content on those platforms without the usage of analytics won't get you far. As Lilly Pulitzer learned, it was far more effective to tailor unique messages to individuals based upon their purchase history than it was to create an archetypal model of the Millennial shopper. As always, figuring out which analytics provide meaningful returns is key to effectively personalizing your campaign.

2. Online Interaction

Millennials live on their phones and laptops. Everything marketing – inquiring, searching, interacting and, most important, purchasing — is all done on their devices. However, this digitization of life shouldn't make us think Millennials want a dehumanized experience. Instead, this online and digital life should be seen as a form of self-expression and personality. In essence, Millennials online to interact with and express themselves to a wider audience. 

Effective marketing campaigns understand this need for personalization and self-expression. A survey completed in 2014 by The McCarthy Group, revealed that 84 percent of Millennials no longer exhibit trust in traditional forms of marketing. Radio spots, television ads and in-your-face pop-out messages achieve very little, as these types of marketing seem generic and company-focused—the opposite of the genuine, content-driven ads this generation longs to interact with. Meaghan Moraes, a marketing specialist and writer, explains in an article for HubSpot:

“Millennials know what they want and know how to find it online. If they decide they want to go for their master’s degree, odds are that an in-your-face pop-up ad wasn’t the deciding factor.”

Understanding that purchases are seen as a form of self-expression can help determine your messaging. Take Lilly Pulitzer for example. According to Artun in the above Harvard Business Review article, 

“We also found that our Millennial consumers showed a willingness to spend more on brands that focus on quality and authenticity—they valued the fact that the company hand paints all prints in-house and hides special surprises in the patterns, just as Lilly herself did in in the late 1950s.”

3. Shareable Self-Expression

If being a brand participant is a part of many Millennials' identities, then it's important for brands to allow them easy ways to share that information. Going beyond simple social media sharing buttons, this means creating sharable content, unique hashtags, and easily accessible brand stories. Marketing to Millennials should be seen as starting a growing conversation, not a one-way dictation.

For the Lilly Pulitzer brand, this meant creating a unique Snapchat filter. This method got them unique results:

“Engaging with this audience on their platform of choice gave us the opportunity to build an emotional connection and to tell our brand story in a visual way (ideal given that color and print are the hallmarks of the Lilly brand). Lilly was the first fashion brand to work with Snapchat to offer branded Snapchat filters for users that visited Lilly stores. During our first two-week summer campaign, the Snapchat filters delivered 97 percent more engagements than on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter combined.”

Bridging the Gap

So what do Millennials want? Personalized, shareable, digital experiences. This sounds relatively simple, but in the real world, it's rarely executed effectively. I look forward to see how other brands successfully (and unsuccessfully) reach out to this generation that wields so much social influence. And once their day in the sun is over, I'll also look forward to watching Millennials crack the puzzle of marketing to their successors. 

Al Eidson is the owner of Eidson & Partners, a business and marketing strategy consultancy, and a founder of SparkLabKC, an early-stage startup accelerator program in Kansas City. He's an expert in taking products to market and has launched more than 220 new products and ventures through his career. He's also proud of killing off a great many problematic products before they hit the market. His vision involves meaningful and lasting products through innovation. 

(image source: https://georgetownmetropolitan.com)