As consumer classifications go, a millennial is typically someone who was born between 1984 and ’96. While the dates are up for debate (with many reports claiming a plus minus of a couple of years), what doesn’t change is the fact that this cohort of consumers have grown up on the technology boom. They have seen everything from dial up VPN (where even an incoming phone call would shut off the internet) to shark-proof deep-sea fibre optic data cables that transport their Netflix to bezel-less smartphones. Identities have moved from the personal to the pixel with people spending more time virtually than in person. This change has inducted an increasing model of communication that is more digital than otherwise.
While content is now largely digital, so is the way companies showcase their message. Digital marketing has changed not only how we consume content, but also how we measure return on investment. Data is a lot more accurate, easier to collect, and most importantly, we are closer to our customers than ever before. That being said, the millennial consumer is getting savvier. They are able to cut through what is organic and paid even though native advertising is on the rise. With fake news also becoming a point of contention, millennials have reduced how much they engage with advertisements, digital or otherwise. A simple analysis on Facebook Audience Insights can tell us that a millennial in India (22-35) will on an average engage with three ads a month, whereas the national average is five (and its only declining for younger generations).
With this, in mind, we looked at how can we arrive at a sweet spot where we’re able to satiate the wants, needs, and values of the 400 million Indians that fall in this bracket. Since 80-dB Mavericks does not works in the traditional silos of company verticals but has an audience-first approach, achieving this sweet spot is how we position any communication activity for our clients.
Broadly there are three things that help companies engage efficiently with millennials:
- Use cases over reliability: Millennials understand that today everything is disposable— from cars, to homes, to even their jobs. This means that instead of harping on the perceived value of our product or service, focus on how it can be used to enhance their lives (or careers). The best way to achieve this is to engage with spaces that showcase our product in an inspirational way. For example, if we are selling a niche product like Maple Syrup, engage with Influencers that will advocate for our brand. This means looking further than only the number of followers (or their engagement rate) but see if our product will even fit the influencers’ lifestyle. The influencer should be able to carry our product such that it doesn’t look inspirational (something that one can never attain) but aspirational (something that motivates user to try and attain).
- Experience is king: Risk averse yet financially secure millennials are spending their savings on experiences today. Instead of questioning their life choices, join the bandwagon! Consumer technology has been one of the earlier adopters of this experiential living showcase. Apple and Sony use a lot of marketing dollars on not only working with millennials, but also seeding products on to Netflix shows that have characters whose lifestyles resonate with the brand.
- Values that are larger than profits: A company that works with a strong set of values that are things bigger than themselves is something millennials can stand behind. Company values cannot be something that we see on a masthead but something that emanates from within every employee of the organisation. Look at the ever-growing start-up culture for a great example. Why are people moving from stable jobs to companies on shoe-string budgets, lesser resources, and a greater challenge to break into the market? One of the reasons can be seen in the fact that start-ups are built on values that resonates with individuals and a team that supports them to achieve a collective goal that can change the way people live their lives. One way companies can keep their employees happy is by making sure values are plenty and employees can actively take part in them. One of Accenture’s company values is stewardship which can be seen by how vast their CSR goals and investments are in countries that they are present in through their corporate citizenship initiatives.
With an ever-expanding marketplace, the ways to engage with millennials are only increasing even if they aren’t traditional. There is enough research to help us understand the top consumption behaviours in the paradigm that we operate in but with that in mind, it’s important to think if we are doing enough. For this, here is an easy checklist to ask ourselves, “are we doing all we can?”
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Varsha Kunhody – Reputation Manager – Influencer Specialist, The Mavericks
Archit Agarwal – Digital Specialist, The Mavericks
The views expressed here are that of the authors and do not necessarily reflect that of Reputation Today.