Imagine a world where we always had the internet. Well if you’re a Millennial (16-30 years old), then that is your world. For those of us who did somehow manage to operate in a pre-internet era it can be difficult to appreciate the nuances and characteristics of a Millennial. Fortunately we’ve got a number of them at Dare and recent Dare Grad Pete Grant (b. 1990) has been doing a bit of research into his brethren.
Us 15-25s came of age in front of reality TV, iPod headphones firmly plugged in. The best of us can’t even remember life before the internet. Inevitably, our generation turned out different from the rest. Now we are of increasingly key business importance too.
We account for 1 in 5 of the UK population (16-30s, 2011) and influence the spending choices of our parents, the baby-boomers, known to economists as the boom-boom effect. It’s even estimated that Millennials determine half of spending in the US (source: Mintel). It’s no surprise then that Mashable recently declared the need to develop marketing and business models to appeal to Millennials is without question. So, how do brands take Millennials seriously? First, they must get to know us.
1. We are self-publicists
X Factor, Facebook and Tumblr are marks of a generation itching to publicly express their individuality. 71% of Millennials said they valued being a unique individual in a group, compared with just 38% of Non-Millennials. 42% of us said it was important to appear clever on sites like Facebook, compared to only 15% of Non-Millennials (source: Mintel). We spend hours carefully constructing public profiles online to express our uniqueness. Some brands have already started to make our purchase decisions a part of this self expression, Red Bull for example have become synonymous with thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies.
2. We are constantly connected
Millennials are the first generation whose time online exceeds their time in front of the TV. 69% of us have smart phones and 33% say they are contactable by mobile at any time, day or night. Whilst our parents saw the internet and mobiles as luxuries, we see them as ‘social oxygen’, necessities without which it would be impossible to communicate or express ourselves. The New Zealand bank ASB has obviously understood this, launching a virtual bank branch on Facebook.
From Dare’s own quant research, we have noticed that the speed of technological change has even created an age gap amongst Millennials. Whilst the 22-26 year olds said they spent around 4 hours a day on their phone or laptops for leisure, the younger 15-21s spent closer to 6 hours. Crucially these 6 hours were spread more thinly and continuously across the day. The younger Millennials were repeatedly checking their social networks and sending short bursts of messages throughout the day.
3. We’re not pesky kids
It’s always tempting to think of younger generations as clueless. In reality we are probably savvier than we get credit for. According to Millennials Inc. brands that oversell, overhype and under deliver should be warned… [Millennials] read reviews, post on Facebook, chat on forums and do online research. In-store, we’re on our smartphones checking out competitors and their prices.
4. We won’t shut up
Disgruntled parents often see Millennials as uncommunicative mumblers. In fact we won’t stop talking and this can make us incredibly valuable consumers. As Nielsen notes, 85% rely on peer approvals. Everything is reviewed and rated, decision-making is a team sport. Millennia's can be great advocates. 55% said they’d post a Facebook status about a brand or product that excited them, compared to only 33% of Generation X. More than half also said they’d be more likely to purchase a product their friends recommended, compared to 39% of Gen X (Source: JWT Intelligence). Marketing to Millennials means speaking, not just to individuals, but to their entire social network as well.
So who’s doing it right?
For a first rate example of Millennial marketing look no further than the 2008 election campaign of President Barack Obama, who won a landslide 62% of the Millennial vote. Obama reached out to the constantly connected by being the first Presidential candidate to make his policies available online, via email and by text. He appealed to online self publicists by holding Q&A conversations on Facebook and Myspace, places they felt comfortable holding discussion. He also harnessed Millennials talking power by launching My.BarackObama.com, a site that connected like-minded local supporters to pool resources and campaign ideas. These original and engaging conversations with Millennials have stepped up again for 2012’s Presidential race. There now exists an Obama Pinterest Pinboard, Obama has hung out on Google+ and there is even a motivational campaign playlist on Spotify. No doubt in 2012 we will see Millennials vote again for a President they feel has spoken with them, not to them, an example many brands could learn from.