As the baby boomers continue to retire and draw down their wealth, the next generation of Americans is just beginning to build theirs. Millennials: you need them. Already, 78 million-plus young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 hold nearly $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. From 2015 to 2020, the aggregated net worth of global millennials is projected to more than double to between $19 and $24 trillion. By 2030, those 78 million millennials in the U.S. will outnumber the projected 56 million baby boomers (ages 50 to 69 today).
They are a force and your business can’t thrive or even survive long-term without them. But the millennials have different habits, values and approaches to the world than other generations do. Among other things, they are practically cyborgs given their attachment to their phones. They also engage much more personally with the brands they spend their money on, and demand authenticity. Read on for a few tips on how do draw the millennials in with a little bit of sweet marketing honey.
Milennials HEART their phones: Nearly 85 percent of millennials in the U.S. own smartphones, and almost 90 percent of millenials check their smartphone within the first 15 minutes of waking. Is your marketing and branding optimized for mobile? Does it load well for slower connections? Is it ideal for a smaller screen? Is it integrated with mobile apps and programs? This is the platform you will find them on and one you can’t afford to miss.
Millennials depend on social media: According to AdAge, millennials spend an average of 25 hours a week online. And they use that online time to engage with brands. They share, like, tweet, pin, snap, forward and comment on things they believe in. Yup, a full fifty-two percent of millennials use social media to “like” a brand—compared with 33 percent of boomers surveyed—and 39 percent post product reviews, according to Boston Consulting Group. What’s more, twice as many millennials as boomers check prices, look up product information, or search for promotions on their mobile devices while in a store. This means that if you fail to make your company or service visible on social media you are essentially invisible to this generation of consumers.
Millennials take brands personally: Fifty percent of U.S. millennials ages 18 to 24 and 38 percent of those ages 25 to 34 said the brands they choose “say something about who I am, my values, and where I fit in.” Another forty-eight percent of millennials “try to use brands of companies that are active in supporting social causes.” They also want to be engaged with the brands they choose: close to twice as many millennials as boomers said the most important thing a brand could do to encourage their loyalty was “availability 24-7.”
Millennials don’t trust well-paid experts: Unfortunately, they don’t trust you. Fewer than half of millennials trust expert advisors such as doctors or financial advisors, compared with 61 percent of the rest of the population. In fact, they are most influenced in their spending decisions by family, friends, and even strangers. They are also twice as likely as gen-Xers (ages 35 to 49) to be influenced by celebrities and four times more likely than boomers. They prefer “authentic” opinions from real people about the services and products they spend their money on. In fact, a whopping 84 percent of millennials say user-generated content has some influence on how they spend.
Millennials don’t like traditional advertising: Traditional advertising just doesn’t do it for the millennial generation: magazine ads, direct mail campaigns, and radio spots. A 2014 survey, Engaging Millennials: Trust and Attention Survey, reveals that 84 percent of Millennials don’t trust this kind of advertising. They want information that will help them make a decision: e-books, whitepapers, blog posts, videos, and other how-to information. They will do their own research, so providing awesome content that can easily be found in a Google, YouTube or Twitter search is much more likely to catch their eye: Millennials are 247 percent more likely than other generations to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites.
So what does all of this tell you? If you want those millennials clients you must go mobile. Establish an authentic presence on social media. Offer up content that serves them—that they can use to do their own research. Encourage followers and clients to tell their social networks what they like about you—without being pushy about it. Build a community online that they can be a part of. Support causes that matter to millennials and that you and your company can connect authentically to. For some firms this will come easily, for others it may mean a full on revolution in branding. But it’s best to take it just one step at a time.
April J. Rudin, Founder and President of The Rudin Group, is a financial services marketing strategist.