With more than 80 million Millennials in the United States today having an estimated annual buying power of $200 billion, the race is on for brands to capture the business of this “new” consumer.
But what worked then won’t work now, and it’s very clear that the game is different because Millennials — the digitally dependent, debt-ridden, largest generation in American history — are different than their predecessors.
And they have a lot of influence.
“Millennials are setting trends across generations,” says Jeff Fromm, Partner at Barkley and co-author of “Marketing to Millennials.” “They don’t have equity in old schemas.”
Because of this, it’s more effective for brands to think about the new consumer as a group with a shared mindset, as opposed to a demographic of a certain age or background.
A few things we know for sure: This new consumer is mobile-first — they expect to be able to, at the very least, search out information online, and even place an order, all from a smartphone.
According to Fromm, brands should be prepared to lose business if they’re not mobile-ready. “You can’t expect to be a modern brand if you don’t cater to the modern consumer,” he warns.
Following, traditional marketing — newspaper ads, radio spots, cold calling — is lost on customer next.
According to Elite Daily’s 2015 Millennial Consumer Trends Report, Millennials don’t trust traditional media and advertising and are looking for the opinions of their friends (37 percent), parents (36 percent) and online experts (17 percent) before making purchases.
Brands should also not underestimate the power of social media and connecting with the new consumer there, searching out feedback, solving problems and allowing them to be part of the story. From the same Elite Daily report, 62 percent of Millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer.
This follows one of the six tenets of the Millennial Mindset®, published in a report based on research conducted by Fromm’s firm and partner FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends and modern consumer behavior. The report identifies “Social Circle” — the team of advisors modern consumers have built for themselves, on social media and off — as “the most influential and impactful pillar” of the Millennial Mindset, which is a group of six overarching ways of thought found in consumers stemming from Millennial behavior. The report states that across generations, these six mindsets can collectively account for up to 50 percent of consumer spend and preference within a category or among brands.
So, given what’s known about how to connect to this new consumer, who’s doing it right?