By: Jim Kreyenhagen – forbes.com – July 23, 2018
Let’s face it — millennials get a bad rap.
The popular cliche is that they’re me-focused, narcissistic or unmotivated, but the truth is, they battle steep hurdles today that other generations didn’t face. Beyond that, they tend to be confident, informed, savvy, tech-centric and very knowledgeable consumers. They’re highly entrepreneurial, and some even believe that millennials may just be a world-changing force to challenge convention and save the earth.
Within the bill payment space that my company tracks closely, millennials are much more likely to embrace mobile solutions that give them flexibility, and they are also more likely to choose convenience that fits their lifestyle over brand.
Also referred to as Generation Y, millennials are generally defined as being born from the early 1980s up to the year 2000, and are coming of age or in the prime of life today. The youngest millennials are now headed off to college, and the oldest are almost 40. Not only is this group the largest population segment in the U.S. today at over 1.7 billion, but research shows that it will remain so for decades.
In other words, millennials are a huge and important potential market for your business, and they constitute an audience that’s very much worth reaching.
Winners At Gaining Millennial Interest
Much has been written about the elusive millennial customer who doesn’t respond to advertising and who frequently shies away from established brands. However, there are companies that have successfully captured the millennial market.
Klipsch, a company offering headphones and speakers, created a brash, loud and humorous campaign (complete with mild expletives) that resonated with millennials and ended up being groundbreaking across the mainstream. Time Magazine praised the campaign, calling it “the Best Act of Passive-Aggressive Marketing.”
The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), meanwhile, captured the millennial sense of advocacy and social media with its #EndangeredEmoji campaign, which called upon Twitter participants to donate every time one of the endangered animal emojis was tweeted out.
Financial services company Wealthsimple, on the other hand, reached millennials by capitalizing on their strong connection to brash, savvy and almost meta-advertising, with a powerful, cinematic Super Bowl 51 spot that got powerful acclaim and results. Another financial services company, Simple (an online banking provider), successfully attracted millennials through its adoption of a smart yet casual, friendly tone in its social media, starting tweets with casual, conversational words like “Hey yo,” and by featuring ads and images with millennial-aged consumers and participants.
At my company, we’ve used ease of use in a mobile-friendly application to garner high millennial market penetration when it comes to paying their bills.
Other brands that have successfully attracted millennials in a powerful way, particularly through interactive and personalized marketing, include Air Jordan, Pepsi, Macy’s, JCPenney, Ford, Pizza Hut and more.
What Millennials Want
How did these companies succeed? They did so by hitting millennials in their core values.
Millennials, as I noted above, value flexibility, accessibility and usefulness. At home, they’re community-focused and socially responsible. Millennials also value word-of-mouth far more than the usual approaches to branding and marketing. For this reason, companies with a savvy use of social media are at an advantage in reaching millennials, as this helps to both increase the company or brand’s visibility while also satisfying the millennial need for more personal recommendations from friends, family, co-workers and more.
Putting It Into Practice
To capitalize on these elements of millennial interest, focus on matter-of-fact messaging that appeals to their sense of flexibility and usefulness. The most successful campaigns occur within the channels they consume at the time of their need. For this reason, when considering your product announcements, be sure to make them especially applicable, friendly and vibrant for posting to social media — preferably across multiple platforms.
At my company, we’ve found that millennials responded most strongly to us because we did the following:
• We went to them, putting our service in front of where they already were and preferred to engage.
• We appealed to their emotions (frustration at the difficulty of the standard bill-pay process).
• We offered them a service that was both unconventional and convenient.
• We gave them the ability to pay on their terms — whether at home on a laptop or by mobile phone on the go.
Reaching millennials can be challenging because traditional brand building doesn’t always work. But once you get their loyalty, they’re an audience that will respond to your brand with real loyalty and passion.
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