The world of marketing has changed considerably over the last few years, months and even days.
The advent of social media has shifted onus on brand managers from mass messaging to relationship building with individuals. No audience is more important to this new breed of marketer than that of the Millennial, a group of coming of age teens and 20-somethings often referred to as Gen-Y.
How do advertisers get to this group? John Digles, Senior VP at Edelman, knows. His team put together a report called 8095 research, a comprehensive analysis of what makes Millennials tick, and how to market to them.
Q: What's behind the term "Millennials"?
A: Millennials are another term for the members of Generation Y. For the purposes of our research, Millennials are people born between the years of 1980-1995, thus we call the ongoing study ‘8095.’ The first Millennials are now turning thirty while the younger members of the generation are starting high school. Gen Y is a common term for this generation. The term “Millennial” is widely used in marketing.
Q: What was the purpose of the 8095 research?
A: We wanted to understand how Millennials connect with brands, form and share their opinions on products, and how they influence others.
Q: What was a key finding?
Well, one of the key things Millennials told us through the 8095 research is that nobody has figured them out yet. We launched this research to explore their diversity rather than treat the generation as a monolithic bloc. Think about it -- Millennials represent a range of life stages and milestones. Some are in high school while others are getting married and starting their families. That’s a vast range of perspective and preference.
Q: In what ways do Millennials express their brand preferences?
Our 8095 research covered eight countries, including the U.S., China and Brazil. One of the key findings across all countries is that, for Millennials, brand preference ranks with religion and ethnicity as a top personal identifier online. Brand preference is deeply personal – brand names go next to their names – and there’s a powerful sense of responsibility that goes with that. There’s a strong sense of brand loyalty. Seventy percent of Millennials keep coming back once they find a product they like. And they’re inclined to take action on behalf of preferred brands. A majority of Millennials has joined multiple brand-sponsored online communities. Nine-in-ten told us that they take action weekly on behalf of their preferred brands, such as inviting their friends and family to join an online community or attend an event.
Q: More brands are taking to Facebook and other social media to reach Millennials. What does a brand need to have a successful social media presence with Gen Y?
A lot goes into engaging Millennials on social platforms and our 8095 research showed that trust is one of the top factors. Millennials are about authenticity, integrity and the ability to deliver on promises. The 2011 version of trust is much more dynamic than in years past. It’s deeper, driven by engagement and more intense. The greater availability of information can also destroy it faster. Six in ten Millennials are willing to share more personal information and engage regularly with brands that they trust.
Q: Are there ways companies can persuade Millennials to try their products or even switch brands?
Our research showed Millennials would consider trying brands based on discounts and free products and additional information about the product. While these are obvious draws, we also found that Millennials would consider switching to brands that come to play a catalyst role in their lives. In fact, in a few countries, this was the number one reason they would switch. Whether the brand invests in a social cause, actively supports environmental needs or is made from locally grown products, the catalyst role is an important attraction factor.