Marketing to Millennials: An Insider's Perspective

Posted by Sarah Scudder on Mar 29, 2016 2:43:30 PM

Millennials (those of us born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s) have witnessed and been part of the transition from paper to computer and beyond. Instead of opening a book, we search on our phones or iPads for information. Instead of using paper and pencil, we access myriad network options. The "Hey, here's what I had for breakfast" picture might make its way to hundreds of people within an hour. Several friends may go to the restaurant that served the delicious food. The restaurant gets new customers just like that. But is selling to millennials really that easy?

No. It's not. We are a complex group.

How does a business attract and retain millennials? Effectively marketing to millennials requires the use of big data. Millennials have access to unlimited amounts of information. We need companies to know what we want before we even want or need it. We expect companies to customize our buying experience, whether that's suggesting relevant products and services or offering Venmo.

Big data allows companies to build relationships by getting millennials to understand them at a very personal level.


This allows companies to customize the buying experience, making it as enjoyable and easy as possible.

Here are four important things to consider when using your data to sell to millennials:

Transparency: Share as much information as possible. Millennials want detailed information so we can make a decision that meets our social, financial, family and moral needs. We want to know the good, bad and ugly. If the business is designing a direct mail piece, they should tell us if their company donates a portion of sales to educate underprivileged children. If they are creating an online pURL landing page and their ice cream contains 1,050 calories per serving but is the best tasting ice cream on the planet, we want to evaluate the positives and negatives and decide for ourselves if we will buy the ice cream. The essence is transparency. We want all the information. It's up to the ice cream company to create a desirable product.

Convenience: We are busy. We work, spend time with family and friends, partake in philanthropic activities and exercise. Not wasting time is high on our priority list. If something is not easy to figure out or use, we won't use it. It's as simple as that. Whether a business is trying to sell print services or developing a print marketing campaign, the business needs to make sure it's easy to understand, access and purchase.

Last month, I was trying to close a 100-unit chain online print portal account. The buyer was a millennial marketing executive. She wanted to see the process involved in building our online system. She said, "If it's not easy and straightforward, I am not interested, no matter how much money it will save me." She informed me that her team's time was valuable. The team needed to see how easy the setup process was in order to commit. I used data to study the brand, their work environment and my buyer prior to engaging with them. I was fully prepared. I put together a streamlined workflow based on big data.

Peer reviews: Millennials care about what peers think. Yelp is a great example of this. People decide where to eat based on the reviews of others that are similar to them in age and lifestyle. I travel a lot for work. When I go to a new city, I use Yelp to determine what vegetarian-friendly restaurant to patronize. I look at the customer photos, read reviews and see how many people have rated the restaurant.

A restaurant (or any other business) should not use "stale" quotes or testimonials in their advertising. A business should use data to find current customers that portray their target customer and ask their customers to give authentic feedback. If a business is selling an online print portal, it might find that buyers under 40 care about efficiency and user profiling more than cost savings.

Quick to dump you: Millennials are not super loyal. Whereas our parents might buy a Volvo and stay loyal to it for 30-plus years, we do not get as attached to brands. We are open to new products and experiences. We are happy to try things out just once. If we don't like it, we are fine moving on.

We are quick to spot insecurity and dishonestly. A business should use data in an honest, respectful and meaningful way.

It's important to have data on things we like, our buying habits, how we like to be marketed to (text, social media, email, YouTube or in person) and what information we need in order to make a purchase. This data can then be used to develop a more targeted marketing campaign.

And if we dump a product quickly, our feedback should be welcomed. A business needs to find out why we left and why we don't continue to purchase the product. This will help to make changes so the business doesn't lose more customers.

Millennials like to be fully informed. I leave you with a quote by the Dalai Lama: "A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity."

Topics: Marketing, Millennials, Big Data


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