For years, marketers and demographers have been talking about how millennials will replace baby boomers as the backbone of the U.S. population. Anticipation has now turned to reality, and the U.S. Census shows that there are 83.1 million millennials living in the country today. This generation is not, however, as homogeneous as its forebears.
It’s easy to picture your average baby boomer, but it’s not so easy to picture the average millennial. This is the most diverse demographic in American history — more than 44 percent are part of a minority race or ethnicity.
These 37 million people make up the fastest-growing consumer segment in America, and the buying power of millennials as a whole is nearly $200 billion. As the percentage of Millennials in the workplace grows, so will financial muscle. Yet marketers shouldn’t attempt to project how this buying power will grow; instead, they should focus on developing loyalty within this powerhouse audience.
Marketing to Millennials
Traditional marketing doesn’t resonate with millennials. They’re too savvy to be fooled by soulless promotional material of the kind that once dominated commercial breaks. Personalized marketing is essential when connecting with millennials, who are far more comfortable interacting with native advertising and brands that take the time to get to know their audiences.
Show them an old-fashioned banner ad or TV spot, and they switch off. A lot of people complain that millennials have short attention spans because they’re always looking at their phones. It’s true that 92 percent of millennials use a second screen while they’re watching TV, but this is because they’re hardwired for technology and are tasking specialists.
Marketers need to rise to the challenge. Millennials are 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters than their predecessors, and many of them are afraid of missing out. The multicultural millennial is even more likely than his or her peers to be an early adopter, and given how highly they value brand loyalty, marketers need to step up to the plate.
Look to the Marketing Horizons
To reach this burgeoning consumer powerhouse, marketing professionals must look to the horizon and experiment with up-and-coming platforms that directly engage with millennial users. Last year, I wrote about the importance of video game advertising when targeting this group.
In just four months, Pizza Hut generated more than $1 million in sales through a dashboard app that allowed Xbox 360 users to order a pizza through their console’s motion-tracking Kinect camera.
Yet this is old news to many millennials — particularly multicultural millennials who are so used to product placements and media gimmicks that they soon tune it out. To really benefit, marketers need to move in on the next tech craze as soon as they can.
Millennial Trends: The Latest Apps to Target
FireChat, enter stage left. This is an innovative chat app that really took off in Japan. Using Bluetooth-powered multi-peer connectivity, commuters with FireChat could communicate on the subway without access to a cellular service connection.
A lot of brands got in on the action, and they started sponsoring “rooms” in which the chat groups took place, allowing them to maintain an ever-present but non-invasive relationship with multicultural millennials. When targeting a demographic that doesn’t like to be bombarded with product messaging, this is the perfect approach.
LINE is another big app coming out of Japan. Unlike other messaging apps, LINE’s users communicate almost entirely through emoticon messaging.
There’s a huge opportunity here for marketers to incorporate this unique style of communication into their branded messages. Who will be the first to release a line of branded emoticons that multicultural millennials will be excited to use in their day-to-day communication?
Giving Old Apps New Life
Video sharing and streaming apps like Vine and Periscope aren’t as groundbreaking today as LINE and FireChat, but they still present opportunities. Marketers should look to follow Twitter’s example when approaching these platforms.
Instead of directly advertising through branded videos and content, Twitter is adopting a native approach to connecting brands with social media celebrities. When a brand approaches Twitter with its new product, the company puts them in contact with the Viners who have the greatest reach in their target market.
Not only is this approach another great example of marketing to multicultural millennials, but it also does it in a way that doesn’t disrupt the audience’s experience of the platform. Being interrupted by an advertisement is the last thing any millennial wants, especially when it’s one of those YouTube ads that can’t be skipped.
How to Develop an Actionable Strategy
Immersion is the most important step when adapting for the multicultural millennial market. Marketers need to understand exactly how these consumers use the application or platform at hand, and they must develop a strategy that plays off the culture that users have already created.
With LINE, that would mean developing a full suite of customizable and branded emoticons, but the key across all platforms is to keep it native and speak the multicultural millennial language. This doesn’t mean posting in-language content on Instagram; it means identifying the core touchpoints of the targeted audience and relating to them in that way.
Typically, millennials are more concerned with a brand’s values and practices than its price point. They want to know that the product wasn’t built with sweatshop labor or that it doesn’t contain GMOs. All millennials consider their purchasing habits to reflect who they are, and it’s this language that marketers must adopt.
By highlighting the latest trend that’s most relevant to millennials, and doing so via the latest and most relevant platform, marketers can win big in the multicultural millennial marketplace.