For the past few years I have been battling the negative millennial generation stereotype, not wanting to admit that I fell into a group that is perceived as lazy, entitled and self-centered. I was pleasantly surprised, while attending an Adcraft Detroit event last week, that not everyone feels the same way. Lindsey Pollak, the keynote speaker for “Marketing to Millennials,” shared a lot of great statistics on just that, marketing to millennials. Instead of focusing on the negative traits most millennials have, Pollak identified why these traits were important and how to exploit them in a positive way.

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First, when thinking about the millennials (also known as Generation Y) it’s important to remember who raised us. A product of the baby boomer generation, there are more millennials than baby boomers. According to Pollak, millennials are poised to outspend their baby boomer parents by 2017. With such an influence on the economy, it will be essential to understand what resonates with millennials. The technology that millennials have access to has led to a generation that appreciates customization. Sometimes confused with entitlement, the desire to create and personalize products, services and experiences is a trait other generations never even considered. This has an impact on everything from automotive to fashion. millennials want to buy a product designed for us. With this mentality, industries like 3D printing are exploding as of late.

Delayed ownership:

While millennials prefer customization, we don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for it. The recession created a generation that is hesitant. Graduating with thousands of dollars in debt and no promise of a career, millennials are holding off on major life events. This includes home buying, cars buying and marriages. Why invest when there is no security that the investment will pan out? Pollak noted that millennials watched their hardworking parents lose money, homes and jobs after years of hard work. That doesn’t allow for a lot of motivation when starting a career. As a result of delayed ownership, millennials are just starting to make purchases as they have built up savings by moving home after graduation and staying frugal with funds. When reaching out to millennials, Pollak suggested partnering big names like Jimmy Choo with Target, to help bring big name luxuries to budget conscious consumers.

Listen twice as much as you speak:

It may not make sense to some to always be connected. Receiving updates on the health of your plants (client: Parrot Flower Power) or the amount of sun your skin is getting (client: Netatmo JUNE) may seem absurd. However, millennials enjoy and appreciate being connected. Criticized for interpersonal communication, millennials excel in communicating with brands. Terrible service at a local restaurant? You can bet it has been posted online to their social followers. In fact, 84 percent of millennials rely on and trust friends’ reviews. When communicating with millennials, whether through marketing, advertising or on social it is important to remain authentic, as Lindsey noted. As a marketing communications professional I have watched as brands expand into every medium. And while it is important to monitor every medium, you don’t always need to speak. Millennials are powerful brand ambassadors and will defend those they are loyal to.

Millennials are the future of the economy and hold the power to make or break your business. Make them the champions and empower a creative, technical and flexible generation to be the best they can be. We might surprise you.

 

M. Przbysz

 

Molly Przybysz is an Account Coordinator at Airfoil, an integrated marketing communications firm with offices in Silicon Valley, Detroit, London and Hong Kong.  Follow Molly on Twitter: @mollyprzybysz