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Marketing to Millennials: demystifying a generation

Generation Y is enormous and their buying power is rapidly increasing, leaving marketers scrambling to reach them. The big secret is to treat them like Millennials instead of getting frustrated that they’re not Boomers.

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Reaching the Millennial generation

Generation Y, also known as Millennials, were born between 1980 and 1995, and already outnumber Baby Boomers and out power their parents in spending power, so marketers are salivating over how to reach this generation who values the opinions of strangers online equally to the opinions of their friends and family. How does a brand market to Millennials in this environment? The first step is understanding the most common traits of the generation.

The most obvious trait is that Millennials grew up with technology, so they are hard to impress by touting that you have a website, no, that is expected of your business. Many technologies are taken for granted, and in some cases, being shed over time, like television, which most Millennials do not watch, rather stream through the web. It is not uncommon for a Millennial to own multiple technological devices or to have paid a great deal of money on them, and the generation average $24.74 spent on coffee drinks, having grown up with a Starbucks on every corner, meanwhile their professional counterparts over the age of 45 spend an average of $14.15 per week.

The generation is known to be altruistic, generous, concerned with the environment and their impact on the world, but are also impatient and value a fast experience over a lengthy customer service endeavor. Born as technology multi-taskers, the generation is wired to be constantly in a hurry and struggles to pay 100 percent attention to any one task, and are conditioned to receive thousands, if not millions of brand messages every day, so cutting through the noise is increasingly difficult. Almost all Millennials are on Facebook, and the majority have “liked” brands they favor on the social network.

Some say that Millennials have a sense of entitlement, and although few studies support that thus far, it is easy to see how a generation where every child got a trophy for participating is struggling to find their comfort zone in the work force. For this and many other reasons, it is not uncommon for Millennials to become entrepreneurs as many do not feel that they fit into a corporate structure.

As a creative generation, marketers are having to find more creative ways to reach these buyers, many resorting to humor. Some are saying that Millennials require advertisements to be flashy and shiny, but the rise of the Apple products should show you that the generation can actually be quite minimalist.

Millennials are also a moving target for marketers, because the American Dream has shifted. Millennials are not ashamed to rent, are waiting until their 30s to get married and have children, and value creative perks at work over traditional vacation time structures.

There is no magic bullet for Millennials, the generation is still defining itself, but the most successful marketers tap into the wisdom of the generation rather than insulting them, and doesn’t try to force them to fit into their idea that all buyers are Boomers. Honesty, cleverness, and rapidness reign right now, but it is a moving target and in five years could look quite different.

Related reading

AGBeat has been writing about marketing to Millennials for years, and there has been a lot of exciting research published on the topic. Below is a selection of 12 useful articles for your consumption:

  1. 8 products Millennials will not buy in the future
  2. Millennials are more difficult to reach, but respond well to creative ads
  3. Technology has made Millennials impatient yet more complex thinkers
  4. How Millennials are conditioned to be entrepreneurs
  5. Why Millennials rely on friends’ and online strangers’ advice equally
  6. Millennials learning from their Boomer parents’ mistakes
  7. Portrait of the new Millennial businesswoman
  8. The ultimate guide to reaching Millennials
  9. Generation Starbucks
  10. Millennials are migrating into the city
  11. Millennials highly educated, highly underemployed: how they’ll absorb housing
  12. Millennials are well studied, but can still be persuaded

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and sister news outlet, The Real Daily, and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. BenchmarkEmail

    May 14, 2012 at 10:20 am

    Great post! I do so much writing about marketing, that it’s weird to read about how I am being marketing to.

  2. Pingback: Millennials' attitudes towards possessions differ from other generations - AGBeat

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Business Marketing

How Snapchat earns over $1M a day on just one lil’ feature

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Marketers are jumping on the bandwagon, giving Snapchat more and more money – but what little feature rakes in so much cash!?

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snapchat 3d filters

Although Snapchat is still struggling to net a profit, they make a million dollars a day with branded AR lenses. If Snapchat can remain crazy popular with its users, this may help the company get out of its revenue slump.

Snapchat’s shares dropped 22 percent since their March IPO, and their Q3 earnings saw a revenue loss of $0.14 per share with the slowest user growth ever. But there’s still growth, and Snap has never really been profit focused anyways.

CEO Evan Spiegel certainly isn’t worried, publicly at least. Spiegel’s product strategies have been mirrored by Facebook and Instagram, and a huge chunk of teens prefer Snapchat over these other social media giants.

Which is why Snapchat can charge upwards of one million dollars a day for augmented reality lenses. Snap’s popularity, especially among teens and young adults with disposable income and social influence, bodes well with media agencies.

AR lenses are one of many features offered on Snapchat, allowing users to superimpose augmented reality images on pictures and videos. If you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet, the dancing hotdog is a testament to how easily an AR lens can turn into a meme.

In September, Snapchat introduced sponsored 3D World Lenses, giving advertisers the opportunity to feature targeted campaigns on the platform. Bladerunner 2049 was the first campaign at the launch, and since then Budweiser, BMW, and McDonalds have jumped on the bandwagon.

Pricing varies depending on when the lens goes live, if it’s a “premium” day like a holiday or anticipated movie release, and the targeting criteria of the agency. If a lens is specific to a region, for example, it’s not going to cost as much as a nationwide campaign.

In a report from Digiday, one NYC-based ad executive stated AR lenses are currently Snap’s most expensive ad product, and for some agencies it’s offered as a standalone purchase. Others reported Snapchat offered a “holistic media-buying plan,” including stickers and filters as well as AR lenses.

James Douglas, SVP and Executive Director of social media for Society explained Snapchat Ads are all about media negotiation, with some of his clients signing annual media contracts, while others may try out shorter stints.

“If it’s a well-known consumer packaged goods company, Snapchat may quote $200,000 for an AR lens, but not on a premium day,” he stated. “Snapchat is very flexible to negotiate media investments with agencies, and I like that.”

According to a Snapchat spokesperson, the base price for a 3D lens running up to 12 months is $300,000. However, the final price depends on if the lens is based on audience impressions or a national takeover on a premium day.

While the AR lenses are not necessarily driving sales for featured brands, users are completely engaged with lenses. Featured lenses are widely shared among users, and screenshots of particularly popular, interesting, or funny lenses end ups shared on other social media platforms.

Even if the lens is being mocked, that still leads to impressions since ultimately the ad is being spread when people send Snaps to friends and feature lenses in Snapchat Stories.

Right now, Snapchat is doing all the engineering for AR lenses. Agencies provide the ad assets and Snapchat creates the lens. Future plans involve opening up creation to select brands, as Spiegel announced in November.

Snapchat is testing a pilot program with Lens Studio, a self-service toolkit allowing advertisers to create their own lenses in as little as an hour. Eventually Snap plans on offering the AR toolkit to advertisers for free, but for now it’s only available to top clients.

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Business Marketing

Pantone’s 2018 color of the year (that you’ll see everywhere now): Ultra Violet

(MARKETING NEWS) Check out the Pantone color choice for 2018, and prepare to see it splashed across the internet and in print.

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pantone 2018

Much ado about a hue. Over the past year, Pantone encouraged us to reconnect with nature and once another through the promotion of Greenery, the fresh yellow-green color of 2017. It’s now time to take our personal and business potentials to a whole other level, as inspired by Ultra Violet, PANTONE 18-3838, which is the 2018 Color of the Year.

Now technically, Ultra Violet isn’t a shade of purple as the Pantone color square suggests. In fact, Ultra Violet is a spectrum of light waves that can’t be detected by the human eye in natural circumstances. But that’s kind of the point. Pantone purposefully selected this color to encourage inventiveness and imagination.

The color purple has long represented individuality and artistic expression. Think Prince, David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix. When Ultra Violet was dubbed the iconic color of 2018, this symbolism was not overlooked. They are using Ultra Violet, a blue-based purple, to encourage individuals – and companies – to push boundaries and blaze their own trail.

Ultra Violet can have mystical and spiritual undertones, too. It’s been associated with mindfulness practices such as meditation, which can be a way to detach from today’s non-stop, information overloaded environment.

As a reflection of this new Color of the Year, we will likely see bright nail polishes, funky home décor, and vibrant fashion bring Ultra Violet into the marketplace. However, while material goods and designer’s color schemes are splashed with this dramatic shade of purple, Pantone encourages brands to use this color to inspire consumers to push for a better, and brighter future.

“The Pantone Color of the Year has come to mean so much more than ‘what’s trending’ in the world of design; it’s truly a reflection of what’s needed in our world today,” said Laurie Pressman, vice president of the Pantone Color Institute.

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Business Marketing

Which social media platform will dominate for marketing in 2018?

(SOCIAL MEDIA) Which of the many social media networks will rule as the top social network marketing platform in 2018?

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social media sales engagement

If you’re still Tweeting to market your business or product, you’re way behind the curve.

Most social media influencers think Instagram is where it’s at, according to new research from content marketing firm Hashoff. A survey of 414 influencers in the business-to-consumer market found 93 percent of influencers focused a majority of their marketing efforts on Instagram this year and another 82 percent expect that to carry over to 2018.

Facebook is the secondary point of focus, as 16.5 percent of surveyed influencers devoted most of their time to timelines in 2017. However, after that, efforts fall below 5 percent for other major social networks such as Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest.

So why the fondness for Instagram? Most social media influencers (76 percent) said Instagram has the best tools for creators among all the major platforms. It supports pictures and videos, live video streams, encourages consumer interaction and don’t forget about all the editing tools, rainbow face filters aside.

Some survey respondents (13.7 percent) also said Youtube is the best tool for content creators. While it hasn’t been a top focus for influencers over the past couple of years, use is trending upward. For example, in 2017, only 3.2 percent of influencers said Youtube is their No. 1 social media platform for marketing, but in 2018, that percentage is expected to jump to 12.2 percent.

While social media marketing efforts will always vary based on company type, product and content creation bandwidth, if you are starting to plan for 2018, keep tabs on these statistics. They can be a good indication of where consumers are viewing content, and if you are just starting out, knowing where marketing efforts are most worthwhile can save you time, energy and money.

Overall, consumers continue to be attracted to creative, visual representations of products and services, so take some more photos and save your word-based Tweets for another time.

Just because you have 280 characters to market your business doesn’t mean you have to use them. Give the people what they want.

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