Getting personal – marketing to millennials

TRENDAFRiCA August 21, 2014

By Gordon Geldenhuys, head of social listening at 25AM

The Millennial Generation – people born between roughly 1980 and the early 2000s – have entered the workforce and started to exert their buying power in the marketplace. They’re as different from the rebellious and individualistic Generation X as the Xers were from the baby boomers.

As the first generation of digital natives, they think very differently about technology, brands, and the world than do their parents and grandparents. Hyper-stimulated, always-on the-go, and socially and environmentally aware, they have consequently different expectations from the companies they deal with.

Theirs is a world of where technology is push-button and convenient, opening new worlds of knowledge and opportunity to them. Yet a harsh economy means that they’re less likely to find high paying jobs at a young age than their older Gen-X siblings might have. Their values about work and life are different as a consequence.

As marketers, we need to think about the messaging, strategies and channels that are best to reach these young customers. With that in mind, here are five interesting points to note about millennials and their implications for marketers.

Given South Africa’s demographics, these points may apply more to the average consumer. However, given the price decline of smartphones, lower data costs and proliferation of technology at schools, some of the below themes may be more prevalent across the broader market in South Africa, than what you might imagine.

1. “Yes, I can do two things at the same time”

Millennials have been surrounded by information technology their entire lives and many of them have owned a mobile phone from a young age. The result is that “second screen” behaviour comes to them very naturally – they can easily post to Facebook from their smartphones while they’re watching television, for example.

For marketers, that means there are fewer opportunities to disrupt and influence them with ads—there are just too many other distractions vying for their attention. As such, marketers need to make every interaction count.

HINT: Brands need to craft multichannel strategies, mindful of how, where and why their younger customers use different screens and devices. These strategies need to offer consistent messaging, yet also work together to amplify the core message.

2. “No, I cannot hold on for a minute”

Youngsters have become accustomed to instant gratification and feedback—after all, friends reply to their WhatsApp messages right away and every piece of information they could desire is a Google search away.

As a result, they are less patient with contact centres, queues and waiting for email or social media responses than their parents. When they don’t get feedback in near real-time, they assume that something must be wrong.

HINT: Ensure that all of your sales and services processes have strong feedback loops so that customers don’t feel neglected. Also, remember to get to the point with snappy communications—most millennials don’t want to wade through walls of text when they have a question or problem.

3. “I can help myself”

Millennials have grown up with e-commerce, online banking, IVR and other self-service technologies rather than a friendly bank manager. Many of them are barely familiar with the inside of a bank because they’ve never really had reason to visit one since they opened their bank accounts.

As such, they see no need to spend hours in front of a customer service rep to complete an application or transaction. They’d rather do it on a convenient digital device in their own time, but they expect the experience to be fast and intuitive.

HINT: Ensure that you offer streamlined digital processes that allow customers to seek information, transaction and interact quickly and easily. Offer them the information they need to empower themselves

4. “My life is part of a bigger story”

Millennials’ lives aren’t defined by a grand narrative such as a world war, the great depression, or closer to home, the struggle against apartheid. Their world is one of accelerated change and the rapid rise of new technologies, one that doesn’t offer them a single clear thread on which to hold.

In their search for meaning, millennials are eager to contribute to society and the world around them. They’re passionate about the environment; they value tolerance; and often, they have firmly held social and political ideals. And they want brands they deal with to share these convictions.

HINT: Brands need to show how they’re contributing to the world and creating relationships of shared value. This isn’t something that can be faked; one needs to have an authentic commitment to ethical relationships, the environment, consumers, and employees.

5. “I don’t need professional advice”

The influence that digital media has on purchasing intent is growing across all age groups, but it’s especially significant among millennials, many of whom don’t read newspapers or watch broadcast television. Whereas their parents may take advice from reviewers, journalists and media professionals into account when making purchasing decisions, millennials tend to hold the opinions of their peers in higher esteem.

HINT: You need to be part of the social media conversation where your younger customers are discussing your products – thus, a social strategy is as important as a media strategy when marketing to millennials. Your involvement can’t be just to sell, but also to provide advice and to listen to customers’ opinions.


Source: Gordon Geldenhuys heads up the Online Reputation Management division of 25AM, a strategic digital consultancy and Salesforce Marketing Cloud Authorised Reseller. 



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