Millennials – generation Y, the internet generation – are now the largest generation in history.
This generational cohort (of young adults aged 16-34) are true digital natives. They are the first generation in history to have grown up immersed in digital technology. This technology is fundamental to how they see the world and communicate.
In a University of Southern California infographic on marketing to millennials, the largest millennial sub-group is shown as ‘digital socialites’. Technology is integral to this group’s very being – they’re highly social and engaged online.
Elsewhere, 2016’s Youth Trends Report highlights that fifty-two per cent of millennials describe themselves as a ‘global citizens’, seeing themselves as taking part in genuine global interactions. As millennial blogger Tanya Korobka says in the report:
“The internet has led the way to a more equal playing field… Everyone on the net is a producer and a participant of the culture at the same time. Online we are not judges by our class, race or sexuality, but solely by the information we choose to share.”
The challenge for marketers
Even the above short snippet about millennials demonstrates the impact this generation is having on marketing. Many marketers admit to finding it difficult to keep up. As marketers, we are forced to continually decode the behaviour of millennials and challenged to rethink what we already know.
How can we get into the millennial worldview (something that’s been shaped by their unique upbringing)? How should we market with them (seeing them as both producer and participant) rather than simply to them? What’s the best way to engage these highly social socialites?
The opportunities for brands
For brands, there’s good news, writes Padraig O’Connor. His top three tips for marketing to millennials starts with how millennials express themselves through brands and “want brands to have much more than just a logo. They want brands to have a personality that they like and can relate to.”
In an AdWeek article, AwesomenessTV’s James Deutch emphasises how his team focuses on ‘quality and thoughtfulness’ when making branded content that resonates with millennials.
The result was Royal Crush, a scripted romantic comedy that features stars and storylines that younger millennials can connect with. The show has achieved almost 27 million video views for six episodes.
Video is integral to millennials’ online experience
The success of a series such as Royal Crush only emphasises the importance of video to millennials. And digital marketers have been quick to grasp its significance.
Realising that powerful visual experiences are critical, GoPro kills the game with its Instagram strategy. The brand uses its feed to share videos that celebrate a lifestyle of adventure. Something that has obviously resonated with Instagram’s core millennial base, attracting 12 million followers along the way, and thousands of views and likes per post.
Experiential marketing x social media
When not watching someone else’s adventures, millennials want experiences that they can share on social media. And, having realised that millennials would rather tell people about something they’ve done than about something they’ve got, big brands are putting budget behind experiential marketing.
Experiential marketing can provide opportunities for millennials to interact with brands in person, so forming stronger emotional connections between them and a brand. Crucially it offers an experience that they can actively share, placing them at the heart of the marketing itself as both an active producer and participant.
Here are some examples:
Beer brand Asahi created a photo booth that people could step into and where fun moments were captured in slow motion on film. The booth then sent these videos to users so they could instantly share them on social media with #AsahiSlowMo. Made in Chelsea TV star Josh Patterson was invited to the launch, and his experience was seen or liked 60,000 times on his Instagram channel alone.
For Belgium TV station TNT – whose tagline was ‘We know drama’ – experiential meant setting up a big red button in a quiet town square. People could press to ‘add drama’ to their day. Videos of the dramatic scenes were witnessed live but also experienced online, achieving 55 million views on YouTube.
blinkbox Reveal Giant Dragon’s Skull on Dorset’s Coast by Taylor Herring #gameofthrones pic.twitter.com/s6VSEXgaFG
— John Evans (@Distinctboxes) August 24, 2016
To promote Game of Thrones, TV streaming service Blinkbox placed a gigantic dragon skull on a UK beach. At the time and at various exhibition shows since, the skull has formed the backdrop to many shared selfies.