Ah Millennials, the much desired demographic of many marketers and advertisers the world over, for they are the future, as well as being the here and now.
They are the digitized demographic, as some refer to them. At least I just did, anyway. While traditional marketing and advertising techniques have a place at the millennial table, it is the more digital-enhanced methods - i.e. mobile, that seems to play a larger role in capturing the attention of this group.
However one thing that marketers and advertisers need to be reminded of when it comes to Millennials is that they are people, too. I know, I know, shocking right?
Ok, sarcasm aside, the fact is that marketers and advertisers, while trying to outdo one another via the latest digital, multi-media platform, must never lose sight of the fact that Millennials want everyone else wants today: a relationship. With brands that is.
Surely they want other kinds of relationships but that's for folks like Dr. Phil and those much more qualified than I.
In fact, I will go you one deeper and tell you that Millennials want, crave and need a relationship perhaps more than any other generation.
One word: stress.
In an article for the Huffington Post back in February, Arianna Huffington referenced a study commissioned by the American Psychological Association which revealed that Millennials are the most stressed demographic. The reasons for their stress are many but the fact is this demographic scored the highest, or is it the lowest? on the stress meter.
Now surely I am not about to tell you that having a relationship with their favorite brand will be a magic stress-relieving elixir for the Millennial generation and in turn create lifelong loyalty with said brand. No, that would be foolish beyond all human comprehension.
But, what I will say is that any brand, advertiser, marketer, whatever that can create a relationship - and I mean a true honest-to-goodness relationship where Mr. and Mrs. Brand really understand a Millennial - well that can only be a good thing. It will surely resonate with this over-stressed crowd and maybe, just maybe, help sway them toward the brass ring: loyalty.
Experience The Relationship
Not too long ago I had the chance to speak with Nancy Smith, the CEO of Analytic Partners, a leading independently-held global marketing analytics firm.
She shared with me the results of a survey her company conducted. It was a national survey which revealed that 48% of people between the ages of 18-44 feel that any loyalty they feel toward brands in the future will be determined by the types of experiences brands create for them.
Now, I realize you may be thinking a few things after looking at the above chart:
"This is supposed to be about Millennials, yet it references those ages 18-44."
I realize the age breakout is somewhat higher on the back end then what is traditionally considered a Millennial but to be honest I didn't care all that much about that as the data still includes the Millennials, at least what many think of when they hear the term. And yes I understand that if we looked at ONLY Millennials the numbers may change but I don't think all that much.
"This uses the word 'experience' not 'relationship.' Is it the same thing?"
Of course it is. In this context it absolutely is. Do you not experience different things in a given relationship? Of course you do. And it is those experiences that ultimately dictate what kind of relationship it is.
The One Constant
Back in May I attended Interact 2013, the conference hosted by my employer, Responsys. Held in San Francisco, it was a week-long event whose main theme can be summed up in one word: Relationships. Speaker after speaker - from the President of Marketing and Platform at Responsys Scott Olrich, to Bert Jacobs founder of The Life Is Good Company, to American hero Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger to musician Michael Franti - who performed at a private concert.
Each and every one spoke about relationships in one way, shape or form.
That's the one constant marketers and advertisers need to remember and never lose sight of: ALL consumers, (and yes perhaps the Millennials more than others) need, want and quite frankly deserve a relationship with you. A two-way relationship with open lines of communication.
Where you address their needs.
Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior creative content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions, and a member of the Editorial Board for the Journal of Digital & Social Media Marketing. He can be reached via Twitter, LinkedIn or Email.