‘Millennials’ are one of the largest generations in history and are already moving into their prime spending years. They are poised to reshape the global economy, and their unique experiences and demands will change the ways we buy and sell; forcing companies to examine how they do business, and redefining how brands communicate with them.

Who are Millennials?

Millennials are a somewhat undefined age group that sit somewhere between Generation Y and Z. Demographers typically use the early 1980s to the mid-1990s / early 2000s as the birth years for the Millennial Generation, making the youngest only 12 and the eldest 34 years old. With a massive 21 million in the UK alone, with 2.9 billion globally – 40% of the world’s population, Millennials carry out over 2 trillion searches each year on Google. It is, therefore, easy to see why they are the most researched group ever, as brands are obsessed with making sure they connect with this ever-growing phenomenon. Even with research, such an enormous consumer group, with such a diverse age range is almost impossible to define, however, there are a few key traits that are consistent across the majority of this highly desirable target audience.

What motivates them?

Unlike previous generations motivated by the ownership of ‘things’, Millennials are driven by more internal factors; ‘You are what you do and not what you own’ is the overriding mantra with this audience. To engage Millennials, brands have to connect with their values and what matters to them. Social currency is king and brands need to create rich, engaging, shareable content in order to stand out and succeed – experiences are the new currency, and information is power. For brands to succeed with Millennials it is imperative that they build connective experiences.

Growing up as part of the internet generation, Millennials look to connect with community groups defined by their passions. They are the first generation of digital natives; globally, 76% of Millennials own a smartphone, and the internet is their best source of coverage of news and social issues. They are incredibly tech savvy and use tech to further enhance their connections with their community. A massive 73% of this audience look at Reddit and Pinterest daily, sharing content about specific interests, knowledge and experiences. For marketing to succeed in this global, but hyper targeted environment, it needs to tap into the niche mindset of the target consumer.

What marketing connects with them?

A great example of a brand connecting with their audiences’ values is Kenco and their ‘Coffee verses gangs’ project. This fantastic programme created by Kenco literally changed young people’s lives in communities, employing them as coffee growers, where gangs are potentially their only other option. In exhibiting its social conscience and community values, Kenco immediately appealed to the large ethical coffee drinker market – aware of the origins of the coffee bean, and the ‘fair trade’ status of the manufacturers, and willing to pay a premium to support charitable initiatives. By supporting the coffee growing communities and positioning their stories at the heart of its marketing, Kenco was able to own the ‘ethical coffee’ space, and elevate the Kenco brand above its competitors in the minds of affluent coffee drinkers.

In addition to delivering relevant messages, the speed with which brands communicate with Millennials is key. Twitter has allowed content to go global and ‘trend’ at the drop of a hat. Pokémon Go, for all its server faults, has succeeded by capturing the zeitgeist of the moment, and rolling out globally, striking while the iron is hot, even through platform stability issues. It is far better to jump on a trend or event than to craft perfection and miss the moment. The speed of communication is as important as the content. You have to be bold and brave, safe will not win with Millennials. For marketers, the lesson can be learned that you need to be flexible, dynamic and quick if you’re to make the most of any given trend, for tomorrow if will be yesterday’s news.

How brands can create marketing that engages Millennials

There is no doubt that the Millennial generation will reshape global marketing in the coming years – and already has begun to do so. If brands are going to successfully tap into this valuable consumer set, they should look to remember the 3 key points mentioned:

  • Be on a global scale – Millennials define themselves by their interests, not by their geographical location or ‘belongings’. These consumers bring the ‘market’ of information and experiences to themselves through the use of technology.
  • Be relevant – if you want to talk to Millennials, you need to speak their language and understand their values and ‘niche’ interests. Converse on their terms, within their space, and you’ll resonate.
  • Be immediate – To market successfully to Millennials, communication needs to be responsive and quick. Time is of the essence. If you take too long finishing that perfectly crafted ad campaign, they’ll have already moved on to the next big thing.

If you’re looking to engage the Millennial generation (who isn’t?) , maybe it’s time to develop a marketing plan on a global scale?

Pokémon Go has succeeded by capturing the zeitgeist of the moment

Kenco connects with its audiences’ values with the ‘Coffee verses gangs’ project

Kenco has elevated its brand in the minds of conscientious, affluent coffee drinkers