Millennials have turned the world of marketing on its head. The old ways of doing things have failed to have an impact and brands who wish to be relevant have had to innovate in order to survive.
The way millennials consume media has forced brands to step outside their tried and true methods to access the incredible purchasing power of this massive generation. Millennials get the news through social media, listen to music by digital means, have cut cable in favor of services like Netflix, and use ad blockers on their web browsers. Print, television, and radio ads will not reach them. And even if they did, they likely wouldn’t land.
Millennials do not want to be told what to buy and are deeply suspicious of corporate powers. They will often turn to technology, not advertising, to search for and find the products that suit their needs.
For many brands, experiential marketing has become the answer to reaching these brand savvy millennials. This type of marketing creates live, interactive brand experiences that are beneficial to both brand and customer. It offers an experience worth talking about and connects with an audience in a way that a television commercial never could.
Here are a few ways experiential marketing can help you reach this demographic:
Authenticity is absolutely essential when it comes to reaching millennials. They have grown up online and have always had a wealth of information and opinions at their fingertips. This has made them incredibly brand savvy and leads to a fondness for honesty, transparency, and authenticity.
They value real connection, and real communication. From an experiential marketing perspective, this can mean positioning a product or brand to create interest and curiosity rather than a direct sales pitch. Creative video campaigns that display an honest conversation about the features and merits of a product are more effective than an email sign up request, for example. In this particular instance, you are offering something to your audience without asking for anything from them in return. This sets you up as the real deal. You are not just another brand, pushing a product, instead, you are a brand who has identified a need in the market and are looking provide the solution.
Millennials want to feel like brands are working to build a relationship with them, not just trying to profit from them.
Establishing authenticity is a bit of a long game. More often than not, you will have to spend some time cultivating your brand persona across everything you do. Sometimes finding a point of connection can take time.
Despite the bad press that older generations like to lob at millennials, they are a very conscientious generation. They care about the environment, the communities in which they live, and the quality of the products they buy. Supporting various charities, participating in green initiatives, and producing fine crafted, locally made (or as local as possible) goods are just a few ways to connect with millennials and show them your brand’s true and authentic self.
Use Transparency to Build Loyalty, & Trust
Almost as much as millennials value authenticity, they value transparency. Brand transparency means being up front and out in the open with what goes into your products and who you are as a brand. Clearly marked labels with easy to read ingredients, health and environmental claims that can be backed up by science, and a willingness to be open will go a long way to helping you cultivate loyalty and trust with a millennial audience.
Millennials are the first generation to grow up almost entirely online and this means they know how to fact check. Gone are the days when vague claims could be made about a product without evidence to stand behind it. Even if you are not making bold claims on your label, this particular demographic wants to know all about it. If you are not supplying the information they are seeking on your packaging, they will seek it out on the internet.
This provides you with an invaluable opportunity. You should be the one telling your brand story. When potential customers search for your product online, make sure that you are the one providing them with the honest to goodness truth and facts. Through your website and your social media channels, you need to paint the picture that reveals to the viewer what you are all about. In a survey of 2,000 consumers, 94% of respondents say they are loyal to brands that they believe to be transparent. Transparency not only provides the trust needed to convert a customer, it allows for the loyalty necessary to create a customer for life.
Create an Experience
Offering an experience to your millennial target is a major piece of the puzzle. In general, millennials are not happy just consuming things, they want to feel it, be it, and experience it on a much grander scale. They want to be a part of something. An experiential marketing campaign brings your brand to life.
The most effective branded experiences meet potential customers where they are already located. So much advertising is about trying to grab attention and bring people to you, this experience flips that script and as such is already more appealing. It does not intrude on people’s life and experience, it joins them in it.
This is why you often find brands position themselves at music festivals, shopping malls, trade shows, sporting events, and major cultural events. At these events, people are creating memories and living an experience they will remember. They are also using their phones to capture images and video to share on social media.
Brands at these events can benefit from all of this goodwill and social sharing. In this environment, a natural interaction with a brand and product encourages people to talk about their experience and there is data to suggest that this is exactly what happens. Word of mouth begins to spread. And with the abundance of cell phones, well-positioned brands can see their marketing efforts and logo making the rounds on social media. The brand benefits from word of mouth and exposure, while the consumer benefits from a first-hand interaction with, and experience of, the brand.
Interactive displays, creative product demos, and virtual reality experiences are just a few ways to get people talking.
Display Brand Personality
In experiential marketing, your brand personality carries a great deal of weight. All successful brands are able to convey their character and personality through every interaction they have with their customers.
A brand’s personality helps to create an emotional connection with a customer base. Millennials are deeply distrusting of big, faceless corporations and would rather give their considerable purchasing dollars to brands that reflect their own values and expressions.
This personality will help potential customers understand what they can expect from you and how it will fit into their lives. Like previous generations, millennials want the products that help them project the self they want the world to see. By strongly, and proudly, displaying the characteristics of your brand personality, you are more likely to hit this market and make an impact. But consider your personality carefully. Think about your ideal customer. Who are they? Once you know this, you can start to build your brand voice to speak to that customer. Mirror their traits and reflect back to them what it is they want to see.
Marketing to millennials is a difficult, but not impossible, task. By being authentic and real, you can form a deep connection with a millennial audience that will not only draw them to your brand, but keep them loyal for a lifetime.