As Millennials grew to adulthood in tandem with the rise of social media, they became perhaps the most visible consumer group yet, and highly influential to boot. So, brands had to rethink how they interact with Millennial audiences and forthcoming generations.
In other words, long gone are the days when brands dictated what consumers wanted. Instead, they learned from Millennials that brands must look to their own audiences for inspiration on what to sell in this new age.
Millennials also don’t accept brands at face value, having grown up heavily marketed to via traditional methods and channels. They know better than to take a product at face value when presented by a brand (think McDonald’s ads vs. IRL).
According to Salesforce’s Trends in Customer Trust study, “More than preceding generations, Millennials and Gen Zers demand connected, personalized experiences across their entire customer journey.”
Enhancing your buying experience for the new era of Millennials and Gen Z means moving away from traditional, linear, cookie-cutter customer profiles. Instead, brands must understand and act on the diversity of customer preferences. Want your customers to be powerful advocates for you? Make them feel special by offering a personalized experience.
With Millennials, buying is personal. So your marketing strategy must be too.
How authentic content influences decision-making
If you had any doubt that Millennial consumer choices matter, remember that right now, there are more Millennials in the workforce than any other age bracket.
According to a Stackla report, “Sixty percent of people said user-generated content (UGC) is the most authentic form of content. And social content from their friends and family impacts their purchasing decisions. And this isn’t just talk. For example, over half of Millennials have made travel plans or decided to eat at a restaurant because of consumer-created content they saw on social media.”
Because sharing and engaging with authentic, trusted content heavily affects Millennials’ purchasing decisions; brands have to place content strategy at the forefront of their marketing planning. For travel and food-centric brands, especially, leveraging the UGC your customers—especially Millennials—are creating isn’t just a recommended best practice; it should be a necessary component of your marketing strategy.
A generation hungry for experiences that satisfy diverse tastes
For Millennials, experiences are everything. So eating a meal and spending time with friends is more than just good times; they’re opportunities to create engaging content and share it online.
Brands should be taking this hunger for relatable visuals into account. Creating a campaign that appeals to Millennials is a matter of recognizing them as viable content creators who could contribute to your brand’s marketing strategy.
Invite customers to get involved with your brand through online campaigns like contests and hashtags. By including customer content in your marketing strategy, brands can prove their loyalty to customers. And this strategy works—98% of Millennials report that they are more likely to buy a product after taking part in an experiential campaign.
With 54% of Millennials reporting they post about food or beverages about 2x a month on average, brands have the opportunity to tap into an extraordinary wealth of user-generated content. Leveraging that authentic content immediately personalizes the buying journey for customers—a key trust factor for Millennials.
Millennials are on the move and they share every step
Millennials value a healthy work-life balance, which means having an appetite for new experiences. Attractive imagery makes the difference when exciting potential customers are jetting off to a unique travel destination. For Millennials, engaging content is even more critical. What better way to entice people than to show where they could be going with incredible, relatable images?
Millennials say content is most influential in making travel purchase decisions. In fact, according to Stackla’s report, 49% of travel purchase decisions are made based on consumer posts. In comparison, only 18% of travel decisions are based on professional photography, and just 5% based on celebrity or influencer posts.
Millennials are looking for the authentic, user-generated content they trust to provide a more personal and realistic look into what a potential vacation spot or an item of clothing may have to offer them.
Millennials don’t care if the content is professionally produced; they’re just concerned if it is cool and authentic. Selling something isn’t about mocking up a flawless presentation. Millennials care about the nuances of experiences and things, rainy days and all.
Talk the talk (but mostly walk the walk) when it comes to company values
Marketing to Millennials means that you can’t just slide by with a good product. Millennials want to know that the company stands for something that matters to them.
According to Trends in Customer Trust, Millennials and Gen Zers trust a company 54% more if the company works to protect the environment. In addition, customers trust a brand 53% more if the company provides equal pay for equal work or fosters diversity and inclusion in the workplace, and 52% more if the company gives back to the community in corporate philanthropy.
Millennials are also significantly more likely to be concerned with sustainable living than previous generations. They are the most willing to pay for products and services with a social or environmental connection.
Prove that your brand stands for something by stating its values, but showing them, too. Authentic, relatable visuals can tell a consumer a story about your brand’s values in seconds. For example, sharing images of employees volunteering and spending time outdoors, posting photos of partner charities and employees using time off for volunteering help Millennials know they can genuinely connect with your brand.
What can we learn from Millennials? Get real
If there’s one mantra that brands can take away in developing an effective marketing strategy geared toward the Millennial generation, it’s this: Be real.
Millennials know that there are real people behind your brand. Develop personalized buying journeys that reflect human values and preferences. Ditch the stock-art library; original content is always king. Treat your customers like you would want to be treated: as more than just a number on an Excel spreadsheet. Simply put, be authentic and get honest with content.