Brands better pay attention to millennials and their values. This generation is the largest group of consumers in the U.S., topping 75 million as of 2015 and wielding $170 billion per year in purchasing power. Central to millennials’ priorities are technology (especially if it’s mobile), online and offline social interaction, a life of adventure and social justice. They also highly value authenticity.
Millennials Love Technology
Because millennials have grown up with technology being a normal part of their lives, brands that sell computers, phones, and games tend to do well with them by default. Brands like Xbox, video game platform Valve and Apple found their way as top 50 millennial favorite brands in a 2015 survey by Moosylvania, a digital ad agency based in St. Louis, MO, and appeal to millennials’ fever for technology and gaming. They also found brands like HP, Sprint and Verizon are particularly attractive because of their cost-effectiveness in staying connected and ready-supply of new devices.
Millennials Especially Love Using Technology to Socialize
Millennials love social media, and that includes sharing videos. Sonic took advantage of this fact in April when it introduced square milkshakes at the popular music festival Coachella. Sonic specifically designed the shakes to complement Instagram’s style of posts, and concert-goers received a free shake if they posted pictures of those shakes on Instagram.
Oreo leveraged social media back in 2013 when the power went out during the Super Bowl. Notable as an example of real-time marketing, the company tweeted a picture with the phrase, “You can still dunk in the dark,” taking advantage of an opportune moment.
Jumping on an online trend, especially in a creative way, tends to be an effective method of appealing to millennials. When Imgur started advertising in 2015, it captured the difficult demographic of males aged 18-34. One marketing campaign Imgur ran with Old Spice was to turn ads into GIFs and have users vote on their favorites.
Steve Patrizi, Imgur’s vice president of marketing and revenue said, “‘If you look at the comments, there are people who are literally begging for more. They are pleading at Old Spice not to stop their ad campaigns.’”
Millennials Care About Social Issues, Authenticity, and Adventure
But millennials are more than their mobile phones. They care deeply about social issues and living meaningful lives.
In order to appeal to millennials’ health-consciousness, Hershey’s, Nestle and Kraft Foods have all replaced the artificial dyes in their foods with natural flavors. Even McDonald’s and Wendy’s, certainly not at the top of the healthiest food options available, have introduced fresher foods to their menus and have been more conscientious about how their meat is prepared.
Part of living a meaningful life is living authentically, and Dove is an organization that has emphasized authenticity through its Campaign for Real Beauty. The campaign has featured models who are not stereotypically thin and whose images have not been airbrushed or photo-shopped. Aerie, the lingerie affiliate of American Eagle, has taken a similar marketing approach by focusing on natural beauty.
And finally, a brand that is excelling at appealing to the millennial desire for adventure is Poler, a retailer that sells outdoor apparel and gear. Poler uses Instagram to market its narrative of adventure with the hashtags #campvibes, #beneaththebrim, and #adventuremobile.
In pictures hashtagged #beneaththebrim, the viewer sees a beautiful landscape as though looking from underneath the brim of a baseball cap. The hat’s brim has the phrase “camp vibes” printed underneath it, and the effect of the first-person point of view is to make the viewer feel as though he or she were a participant in the story being portrayed.
Another way in which Poler is marketing to millennials is that rather than simply depicting a series of items for sale on its site, Poler puts its merchandise within the framework of different narratives from which users can choose.
For example, prospective customers can pick “Poler Adventure #120: Winter in Slovenia” or “Poler Adventure #113: The Long Wave Goodbye.” Upon selecting one, visitors of the site will see a series of photographs displaying people experiencing that adventure, usually amidst a breathtaking landscape. And rather than displaying its merchandise in every photograph, Poler keeps the focus on the narrative it has created. The outdoor retailer is doing well for several reasons, a key one being that the company is selling an experience.