Your new boss is 15. Meet the millennials

By Tony Fannin, President, BE Branded

By the year 2010, millennials will make up more than 50 percent of 18 to 49 year olds. This group has already flexed its marketing muscle and by becoming major influencers in  pop culture and world events. They are considered the largest generation in American history. And because of their numbers, they are changing the way businesses approach media and marketing.

To reach this group, here are a few facts and concepts to keep in mind. First of all, millennials have been the focus of aggressive marketing since they were young. They accept marketing. They understand that to get something they want for free (content, downloads, entertainment) they will need to watch and listen to advertising.

According to surveys such as Marketing Charts and BrandWeek, millennials have an affinity and trust for traditional media such as print publications and TV. More than 68 percent say they use these mediums to find out about what’s cool and hip pertaining to clothes, music, cars, etc. If there is something cool or new out there, they want to know about it and they know the way to do that is though ads.

Ironically, there’s more trust in a TV spot or a magazine versus a pop-up ad or messages on community sites such as MySpace because they believe that a company has to be more truthful than someone who can post just about anything they want online without verification.

But the challenge in marketing to millennials is that you must be real, relevant, and have a genuine story to tell. You also need to craft your message to rise above the clutter and be cutting edge. By providing a unique experience, they will not only listen and give you their time, but will pass you along to their friends and “community”.

Another factor that is critical in marketing to millennials is allowing them to engage and participate in the conversation. It’s no longer acceptable to just “push” information out. They want to add their own creativity and have a say in how they see you being integrated into their lifestyles. They have a strong sense of community and enjoy sharing their brand preferences and brand experiences with each other. They make decisions by consensus. The rise of community and social networking online is just an example of this trait. If you can present the emotional benefits of what you have to offer and not tell them “when or how” to use you, they will create how you fit in their daily lives on their own.

Integrated marketing is more critical now more than ever with the combined power of this group. According to Millennial Strategy Program, millenials spend almost 15 hours a day interacting with various media and communication technologies. They can condense 11 hours of media consumption in a six-hour time span. They combine the ability to multitask and focus attention to messages that seem relevant to their lifestyle.

At the top of their list of media they “can’t live without” are cell phones, computers, TV, digital music players, and digital video players. Disney Television group has research showing this group will use between five to eight different technologies including TV, print, and radio along with new media, when they get home from work or school.

This group also sees itself as nonwhite. It’s not they are disinheriting their culture, but they view themselves collectively as a unified group. It is no longer about where you’re from, but what you stand for. Because of their love affair to media of all kinds, they are exposed to cultures that used to be exotic and different. Now they see integrated communities. While 80 percent of baby boomers are white, more than 45 percent of millennials describe themselves as nonwhite. While previous generations wanted to “save the world,” this generation wants to “change the world.”

As you see, the new world isn’t exactly getting rid of the old. Traditional media is not going away or disappearing anytime soon. Instead, the marketing pie is just getting bigger. The keys to reaching the new boss is to provide genuine, creative storytelling that emotionally engages them on their terms by strengthening their beliefs in themselves and to provide that content across multiple mediums and devices.

If you succeed in building a trusted brand, they will spread the word worldwide.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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