The following excerpt is from the article Meet the Millennials: The consumers to change the marketing landscape written by Jamie Gailewicz, who oversees the Bailey Brand Consulting Client Services team, and published on The Next Web. Below, we have included just a small portion of Gailewicz's article that we find most relevant to college stores and how your store can engage with your students. However, his article contains a wealth of information that's valuable to understanding your target audience. So, take a look at the information below, then read his full article for a more detailed look at the Millennial generation.
The challenge for any brand is to determine what is relevant for the Millennial audience, which harkens back to their ideals and social dynamics. Having a Facebook account, posting on Twitter, and providing content is critical, but there are many brands that do this with limited success.
There are 79 million Millennials in the United States that have different tastes, desires, and goals. Some believe that buying organic products has a direct benefit to help them achieve a healthy lifestyle; others seek portable grab-and-go solutions that don’t take time out of their day; still others appreciate both.
There are Millennial parents who are constantly seeking new ideas to improve, simplify, and help define their parenting style. Trying to find the commonalities may be difficult, but there are some underlying insights that can be leveraged:
Quality is important to the Millennial, but the price must still be fair. The catch, of course, is defining “fair.” Something that is expensive to one person may be cheap to another, and it may have no correlation to income. This reflects the value an individual puts on the item and how it fits into his or her lifestyle.
In truth, most consumers think this way, and the concept of affordable luxury stems from it. A pair of shoes may be overpriced for one person, while another may see them as a necessary accessory. People who don’t see value in the shoes may put their money into a piece of technology, priced similarly to the shoes, but more targeted toward their needs.
It’s not a revolutionary thought, but with a generation that is very conscientious about how it spends money, it is critical for brands to make sure their products and services speak to their quality and relevancy. Brands that have a robust backstory or a unique proposition that gives credibility to their products and services should promote that information to this audience.
Making it “their own” is another trait of Millennial consumers. The information Millennials pull from to make choices is vast; they are constantly exposed to and influenced by diverse experiences.
The global connections created by the Web have developed a larger market of choices, and new products and services are being invented so rapidly that part of the fun for this generation is discovering them. Once they find these items, they quickly share them with like-minded friends and recommend them to the world, building a following.
An example is how this generation makes parenting choices. Other generations would rely mostly on their parents to provide insight on how to care for children. They might talk to a friend to get more thoughts, but even so, advice was almost always limited to people they knew.
Millennials still get advice from parents and friends, but they are also influenced by people all over the world. Access to global ideas, knowledge, and personal experiences help give them different perspectives. They pick and choose from the information available to them to create the style of parenting that suits their needs and reflects their values.
Millennials know they have a breadth of available choices, and they rely on feedback from others to help them make their choices. Brands don’t have to be progressive or retro to be adopted, they just have to be relevant and prove their effectiveness to the Millennial audience.
The last insight, critical to marketing to this generation, is accepting that it has more choices than any other. The volume of media thrown into today’s market creates a tremendous amount of noise for this generation to contend with—noise that is easily dismissed as differentiation becomes more difficult.
As William Irwin Thompson sees it, “In this world of information overload, the benumbed citizen no longer reads or thinks; he watches and feels.”
This is not, however, the whole truth.
The Millennials do watch and feel, but they still read and think; combining all these experiences allows them to make thoughtful choices. They have been taught to expect more and challenge the ideas that are presented to them.
To break through the noise, marketing efforts (as well as the products and services they represent) must have substance and authenticity to be respected by the Millennial. If something doesn’t resonate or is oversold, chances are they won’t adopt it. Understand their spirit, respect their intelligence, and give them something to be inspired about, and your brand has a fighting chance.