What can the Google generation, otherwise known as millennials, teach us about brand? Actually, plenty. They are a group that is media savvy, have been marketed to from their first days of their lives, and want’s to be informed of all things cool, entertaining, and meaningful. The mantra of the boomer decade is “Sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll”, the millennials’ are about smart and funny. So, what can brands learn from this influential group?
• Social and peer validation is very important – They live and die by social media and what their peers think of them. It has been said they have been raised by “peer-renting” instead of traditional parenting. They are usually optimistic because they don’t feel alone. Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, YouTube, etc. keeps them connected with all of their friends and peers. This leads to the related quality, they are about groups, not individualism, “Wii would like to play”, flash mobs, and “swarm” on twitter. Brands need to not only connect with their customers, but their customers’ friends and circle of influence. In other words, being “exclusive” is not a great quality for them.
• Diversity is cool – They believe and embrace diversity in all its forms, backgrounds, experiences, ethnic, and religious. Because of their social nature and openness to all things new, they are early adopters. This doesn’t mean brands need to be all things to all people. It does mean brands should be open to being reinvented by them and how they engage brands to fit their purpose and lifestyle. The balance is to be open to new ideas from your customers without losing the core of who you are as a company.
• Fast and clear – Millennials are quick on their feet and don’t have time for long pitches. Get to the point in a fun, entertaining, or meaningful way. Brands would be served well to remember a concise, clear brand is something they will remember and appreciate. They won’t spend time trying to figure out what you stand for. It’s not that you have to pander them or “dumb it down”, you just have to do better in communicating the emotional reason why they should care. And, isn’t that supposed to be the goal in the first place?
• Be clever – Too many brands say you must communicate to the lowest common denominator, underestimate your customer’s ability to understand. This leads to the bad advertising we’ve seen too much of. This won’t fly with the millennials. They are smart and quick. Remember many of today’s technological advances have been born in college dorm rooms, they are well educated. Brands would be better off by overestimating their audience. This gives your customers credit for being smart and intelligent. Even if they don’t get it, they turn to their social media connections to find out what they’re missing. Not many are insulted by you thinking they are smarter than they really are.
• Don’t promote technology – They know this better than you, so don’t try to wow them or “talk their language”. They grew up with technology, so it’s has always been part of their lives. To them, technology is invisible. It’s assumed it’s behind what you are doing anyway. What they care about is what experiences you are delivering to them. It’s the human element you build on top of the technology that really wow’s them. Don’t promote you have the greatest technology as a sell point. That’s a “duh” to them. Promote, instead, the experiences they will have by engaging your brand.
• Give them something to talk about – Too often, many brands play is safe. This leads to boring, me too, marketing. Millennials love to be surprised and to encounter the unexpected. This goes back to being open minded about many things. They don’t mind being marketed to. In fact, they like it because it’s a way they can see what is new, cool, different, etc. But, don’t just serve up typical ads. They want to be entertained, surprised, or even educated. Your marketing needs to give them something to talk about. Don’t underestimate them and you’ll be rewarded with a tidal wave of talk because of their love of social media and communication devices. Remember they are about groups, not individualism.
The millennials in many ways are easier to connect to because they “get” marketing and embrace it. What makes it harder is they have high expectations. If a brand doesn’t get great at being entertaining, concise, and meaningful, they are ignored. Where the millennials go, everyone follows.