How can brands better engage with millennials online?
New York, July 27, 2015
A lot of research surrounding Millennials covers how to effectively market to them. A lot of brands are getting around to nailing this, but the thinking shouldn’t stop there. Attracting Millennials is one thing – but keeping them engaged and satisfied with their ongoing experience seems to be suffering a slower uptake.
Born between 1977 and 1995, Millennials are the first truly digital generation – and they are changing the marketing landscape rapidly. Some are still in education, some are settled down with kids, homes & careers and some are even key influencers in their field. The ‘Digital Native’ generation has come of age, and are now the largest generation on the planet. Millennials have grown up in an era of rapid technological advancement. Their habits and preferences for brand communication, engagement, and product/service experiences are totally different to any older generation. This has drastically changed how brands are engaging consumers, both onand offline. Marketers and companies do not need another white paper to add to the noise on the importance of social networking and mobile. Instead, this paper looks to cover the latter – the perfect digital Millennial experience.
Millennials expect quick and frictionless online experiences that not only provide them with what they need, but go above and beyond to make their experience as smooth and engaging as possible. Be it booking a cinema ticket, complaining about poor service, purchasing their weekly shop or even checking their bank account.
Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with the Internet at their fingertips. These Digital Natives not only embrace new technologies, but they are the creators of the social media explosion. Always connected to the Internet through multiple devices, Millennials are used to accessing any piece of information at the touch of a button. They are no longer kids anymore. They are out there earning degrees, fighting wars, applying for loans and building families. They are creative, socially-minded and community orientated – and they love to prove it. As of 2015, there are 2.5 billion Millennials worldwide, which equates to about a quarter of the global population. There are about 80 million Millennials in the United States, which is around three million more than the Baby Boomer generation.
Millennials are creative and full of positivity with more than 74% feeling that new technology is making their life easier than previous generations. They care about expressing themselves and caring for their family and friends.
As the social generation, Millennials are constantly connected to their social circles – sharing their experiences online for friends, family and influencers to see and comment upon. However, they aren’t just sharing on one platform. Millennials use different channels for specific conversations. They are also very mobile. More than 75% of Millennials use a mobile device to help them shop whilst in store and 73% are already transacting directly on their mobile devices. And they aren’t just using mobiles to purchase products – they are consuming content and connecting to their social circles. Despite being hit hard by the recent recession, Millennials are still optimistic with their careers. While 69% don’t feel they currently earn enough to lead the kind of lifestyle they want, 88% think they’ll be able to earn enough in the future.
New technology has shaped the way Millennials purchase goods and interact with brands. Even established behemoths such as the music industry have completely changed due to the way Millennials integrate technology into their purchasing behaviour. People aged 25-34 are now the most likely generation to use ondemand music streaming services. This not only shows how quickly millennials adopt new technologies, but also that they care about the service – rather than physically owning a product.
Millennials are vastly different to any generation before them. As Digital Natives, they have different needs that need to be considered before they can engage with a brand. They also have high expectations and a lower regard for traditional marketing and advertising techniques. But this doesn’t mean they can’t be marketed to. We found that 78% of Millennials wouldn’t pay a premium to remove advertisements on their favourite web services – showing that they still would prefer to view advertisements over other forms of revenue generation. Crafting a great brand experience across all of your digital touchpoints is now the best way to get Millennial’s attention. Below are six core values that Millennials look for in a brand experience – and six ways to help digitally engage this techorientated audience.
Millennials expect things to work – and fast. Growing up in a world full of lightning-fast Internet communication, Digital Natives have been spoilt by the speed in which they send & receive information. They get highly frustrated when they are left uninformed about the state of their new shoe delivery, or why their train is delayed. They want constant information – and in real time. It’s not just a blind frustration either. Millennials know that technology provides a way to solve these issues and are vocal when a brand doesn’t invest in building that solution. If something doesn’t work, or they can’t get what they want, Millennials will actively seek a service that offers a better experience. Booking flights, purchasing groceries, insuring cars and checking bank statements are all unglamorous activities – but to Millennials they need to work flawlessly across all their devices and platforms. It’s no longer excusable to have an average service. Millennials can decipher whether there is a limitation of technology or if you as a brand are just being lazy.
Mobile and Web apps have been a focus for a few years now, with countless services and products offering all sorts of experiences natively, and through the web. Usage of such apps has sky-rocketed – with social media platforms and entertainment apps leading the charge. Millennials are using these for everything from communicating with friends all the way to managing their finances. As an adventurous generation, Millennials seek to improve their lives through experiences that align with their interests. 75% of Digital Natives want brands to provide the opportunity to receive more life experiences. Seeking out brands that add more to their product/service than what was purchased, Millennials want brands to further enrich their lives by using their products. The days of the scattergun marketing approach are drawing to a close. Innovative brands are using digital to not only reach Millennials, but also to enrich their lives. Algorithmic recommendations, integrations with chosen apps and even streamlining day-to-day activities of Millennial users will help to engage them and turn them into brand advocates. Brands like Nike have taken this concept to the next level by creating ancillary products & services to help aid the sale of their main products. The extremely popular Nike+ running app not only tracks how well you are performing when out on a run, it lets you share running information, tag photos on social media, set challenges with friends and even plays your favourite music from your own collection whilst you train.
Growing up with social media at their fingertips, Digital Natives have been given a digital soapbox to communicate with since a young age. This means they expect brands to listen and respond to their needs online, in real-time. In fact, 64% of Millennials feel that brands should be offering more ways for them to communicate online. Millennials consume content across multiple devices, so marketers need to create content with a ‘multiplatform” strategy.
Although responding quickly, with real communication through digital channels is a fantastic way to create engagement with Millennials, there is another powerful strategy to gain their loyalty. Millennials love to get involved – be it through helping you to evolve your product/service, create marketing content or even rethink your customer service processes. Millennials see creativity and innovation as a two-way street – brands can offer innovative products/services, but they can also encourage their loyal fans to innovate and contribute. The Millennial generation has been deemed ‘narcissistic’, but this is a misrepresentation of their eagerness to add value. Digital Natives are heavily involved with communities that interest them. This can include their social network, workplace community or even your brand. They are creators, innovators and contributors, offering their expertise and talent to help enrich both their own lives and those that they care for. Getting Millennials involved in your brand process through co-creation can not only help create a better experience for them personally, but also give valuable insight into what matters to them the most. New customer data, increased profitability and added loyalty will ultimately lead to increased sales and brand awareness. Whether it be contributing to the product/service, the marketing process or the overall experience, brands that offer Millennials the chance to cocreate are bound to forge brand loyalty from the creative generation. Leading hotel and resort provider Marriott executed this perfectly with their ‘Travel Brilliantly’ campaign – asking consumers to help rethink the travel industry. People can not only contribute ideas on how they would improve the travel industry, but Marriott also provided a platform for those ideas to be voted on and shared across social media. The campaign capitalises on Millennials creative needs and gives every-day brand advocates the chance to participate into creating a better product/service.
Millennials are already a huge purchasing power in the current market, and their slice of the pie is getting larger year-on-year. Brands who can understand this seemingly illusive generation, capture their imagination and engage them on a personal level, will ultimately garner success for years to come. The digital environment is no longer an afterthought and cannot be ignored if you want to engage with Millennial consumers. Services that provide real-time updates, transparent information, integrated experiences, online communication and the opportunity to be part of the creative process will keep Millennials coming back for more.
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