Chasing Millennials : Let’s Not Get Left in the Dust

By Yuliya Velmushkyna

Photo by Austin Photographer, Matthew LemkeThough I can’t speak on behalf of Millennials (Generation Y) representing almost 25% of the population, I respect them for having enormous enthusiasm, following their dreams of achieving financial independence, and doing what they love. This generation is responsible for driving new trends (Mobile, Apps, Games) and overcoming great challenges in the current job market despite paying huge student loans.  Millennials pursue financial independence, opportunities for flexibility, and the realization of work-life balance. Yes, they want a great career and money, but it’s all about learning new skills, taking initiatives, sharing with others, and becoming competent enough to gain the trust of others.

A common stereotype of Millennials is that they are slightly unfocused because they’re always keeping their eyes open for the next big thing. They may be unpredictable, are usually very self-aware and independent in their thinking, and might have short attention spans.  Generation Y looks for adventure, craves exploration and creativity, and is dissatisfied with the status quo.  David Tenorio, a 26-year old digital illustrator in Austin, said that “In order to deal with a less reliable economy and government, this generation instead relies on its peers and the information they generate personally”. Millennials excel in social media because they articulate their points of view beautifully and have mastered the ability to create connections through communication via mobile, texting, and videos.

How can marketers be creative in capturing the goals of Millennials in their plans and attracting this generation to your brands? This brings a unique opportunity to our world where we have the ability to market to a group of potential or current Millennials customers that are spending money! If you want them, you must be technologically relevant and engaging them in conversation at a fast speed.

Millennials are those born between the years of 1979 and the early 2000s. Who they are? They are a tech-savvy generation who use Snapchat, Waze, Vine, and Instagram every day. They absorb volumes of relevant information constantly at the speed of light. They are early adapters and quickly shift their attention to competing products. They are very much immersed in technology, prefer to shop online, detest corporate structure, and are fed up with being on hold at helpdesks.  I watched an interview with the CEO of Best Buy who believes that consumers come to his store for the “customer experience”. But he overlooked that Generation Y driving the Smartphone and Tablet market are avid individuals who don’t purchase overpriced electronics in stores. They have mobile apps that scan prices and compare everything to Amazon website where they usually spend their money.  The CEO argued that store experience, installations, and warranties distinguish his brand from competitors, but he failed to notice that Millennials are smart enough to tinker with their own electronics.

How does Generation Y want to do business? Due to their search for the best deal, the most efficient service, and the simplest process, this crowd may not be completely loyal to one particular brand. Why would you use old-school practices when there are many self-service options on popular Social Media networks? Brands should stay relevant by fine-tuning websites and streamlining online services so that they can more competently reach and keep Generation Y. The end goal is to build trust and show adaptability to modern practices.

As someone understands the need to remain relevant in ever-changing spheres of social media and Digital Marketing, I regularly try to grasp changing world because of Millennials. I was thrilled with the new release of Instagram’s 15-second video and failed to remain loyal to yesterday’s Vine video service with its short 6-second span. I am just beginning to understand that Generation Y drives the majority of current innovations through Apps, games, SM channels and digital conversations. You say that Facebook violates your privacy and you stay away from it. But you are losing Millennials customers because they are there all the time – searching, reading, posting, liking, and buying. But not from you! If you are not aggressively targeting Gen Y’ers, you will fail to promote your product to their world through social influence: family, coworkers, friends and their friends. They have special skills to mobilize their networks. It’s a marketing spiral that will continue to draw in revenue if you do it right. Embrace Social Media, use apps and games, offer free services, be genuine, become more open, and respond in real time. It’s essential for brands to create widespread content, engage with Millennials, and exchange free services for valuable information about the customers’ habits and preferences to retain this new generation.

How can you prevent your company from slowing down while staying in the race after Millennials at full speed? To ensure future success, engage in immediate conversation. Don’t wait another minute. Don’t try to be perfect; Millennials care about transparency and acting in the moment. Find where they spend time online and go there, whether on Social Media or mobile apps. Be everywhere and invest in visual media to attract attention of this generation. Don’t be afraid to jump into the statistics of ROI and real-time data. Be sure to modify your content according to their habits and preferences. In order to keep up with Millennials, put on your running shoes and chase after them with full respect of the amazing ways they are changing our marketing practices. Let’s not get left in the dust!

Do you want to learn how you can engage with Millennials on a more personal level by creating content that they want to read and share? Brett Jewkes, VP and CCO for NASCAR, and Dennis Devlin, CEO of Consumer Clarity, will present case studies showing how their brands are digging in with this demographic to make an impact. Register for the AMA Austin Signature event on June 27th “Is Your Brand Millennial Ready?” at the Marketing Jam.