Saturday, September 19, 2015

5 lies you've been told about marketing to Millennials

It's hard to open a magazine, check your email, or read your favorite blog without running across an article that talks about Millennials and what you need to understand to market to them. Mixed in with a lot of research, however, are a lot of conflicting ideas, which makes it hard to figure out the truth.
First, Millennials always seemed to be lumped into a single demographic group, despite being very diverse as a generation. Then there are many assumptions about their technology habits, brand affinity, and other behaviors.
The purpose of this article is to clear up some of the misconceptions that have been shared about Millennials. Let's take a look at five lies you've been told about Millennials -- and find out the truth in the process.

Millennials all think and act the same

This first lie is probably the most important one that we'll discuss in this article, and once you understand this, you'll undoubtedly have more success reaching Millennials.
For all the discussion about Millennials being the most diverse generation in U.S. history, they sure are talked about as a single group of individuals with the same opinions about everything.
According to Carat's research study based on 14,000 Millennials aged 15-to-34, only 42 percent of this generation can be considered "hyper-connected optimistic digital extroverts." By subscribing to that stereotype, you're missing out on effectively reaching the other 52 percent.
The message here is simple: Stop thinking of Millennials as one big segment, and start trying to understand the subtleties that exist within this large demographic.

Millennials are always connected to the point of lacking interpersonal skills

Does the Millennial you work with always seem distracted by technology and uninterested in human interaction? This is a common stereotype that is often shared about this generation. You might imagine a Millennial's dream job is one where he or she is isolated and perhaps surrounded by machines, never having to deal with people.
While this might sound like the perfect scenario for a Millennial versus a Gen Xer or Boomer, think again. A study by Cornerstone uncovered that Millennials actually prefer to work in-person, rather than remotely.
According to Medallion Retail, maintaining strong personal connections with friends and family is very important to the Millennial generation. Even though technology and social platforms are a natural part of life, they have a genuine concern for others.

Millennials value technology above all other things

There is a common stereotype that Millennial consumers are glued to their smartphones, nearly oblivious to the world. From this image, we can make an assumption that these digital devices are their most prized possessions and that they'd have a hard time surviving without them.
According to a research study reported by Fast Company, when asked if they would be willing to give up basic comforts like heating/air conditioning, paychecks, food, or cars/public transportation in exchange for staying "plugged in," Millennials were not willing to part with those basic comforts.
While Millennials are certainly comfortable with technology and are the first generation of "digital natives," not all of them can be considered early adopters, nor are they constantly connected. According to 2015 research by IRI, 48 percent of Millennials say they would be able to function without their smartphones, 45 percent claim to be early adopters of new technology, and only 29 percent regularly use a mobile app to pay for purchases.
This doesn't change the fact that the typical Millennial will feel comfortable on a digital device, but it does mean they have other priorities as well.

Millennials only shop online

You would assume that this digital native generation would do most of their shopping online. This is another myth about Millennials that we've all been told, though it is not completely true. It is true that a multi-channel approach is best, but the NPD Group, Inc. reported that 81 percent of Millennials' retail spending occurs in brick-and-mortar stores, as opposed to only 19 percent on web-based channels.
Some of this behavior may be because, generally speaking, Millennials are not pre-planners and are less frequent users of shopping lists. This translates into commonly going to the store after running out of an item rather than waiting for online shopping items to be shipped.
Keep this in mind when you're making plans to communicate with Millennials about shopping. It may be that you'll have a lot more brick-and-mortar sales than you thought.

Millennials are not brand loyal

There has been much talk about Millennials and how they do not share the brand affinity that previous generations have had. Fortunately, for brands, this simply isn't true, but there are a couple key lessons that need to be understood in order to effectively reach this audience.
While Millennials are loyal to brands that provide value, they also enjoy finding a good deal. According to a research study by IRI, 44 percent of Millennials say they are loyal to specific brands, but 52 percent will choose quality over price. Keep in mind, though, that 66 percent of these Millennials are working with limited budgets, so some of this cost-consciousness makes sense.
More than ever, brands need to be authentic and take the time and effort to differentiate themselves in order to reach the Millennial audience. Jeff Fromm says the benefits of a brandshould be personalized, highlighting "fairness" in everything the brand does. In essence, Millennials are looking for more of a partnership with a brand. This includes sharing ideas and communicating.


Hopefully this has been an eye-opener as you've discovered some of the myths about Millennials that simply aren't accurate. As with most things of this nature, the common themes you've heard are true in some instances but not in all. Understanding these nuances will make the difference between effectively targeting your audience and potentially missing the mark.
While this demographic becomes increasingly important to understand, make sure you keep these lies in mind when approaching your next marketing campaign. Don't fall victim to stereotypes, and make sure you take time to understand the specific target audience you are trying to reach.

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