Millennials have a peculiar relationship with brands
To put it succinctly, says Jeff Hilton, co-founder and CMO, BrandHive, millennials speak brand. They have been inundated with brands and messaging since they were children.
They get brands. I like to say that they 'see behind the marketing curtain.' They also have a healthy mistrust of brands generally, and are looking for transparency and authenticity in the brands they purchase and tell their friends about. They are somewhat big brand averse.
There are exceptions of course, and I’m talking about Apple and Patagonia for example. But most often they prefer smaller niche brands that they can adopt, adapt and customise to meet their specific needs. So if you are not willing to pay that price, then millennials may not be your ideal target customer.
They are not really all that worried about ageing or prevention or health preservation. They are more focused on living their current life to the fullest and maintaining good health to run as fast and as hard as possible — now, not 40 years from now. Their path through life is much less sequential and linear than more traditional boomers. They move along a more personalised and random timeline of events including marriage, children, travel, schooling and career.
They take a similar approach to achieving health and wellness, by mixing and matching a variety of strategies that work for them. They are very comfortable mixing improved diet, exercise, supplements, pharmaceutical drugs, functional beverages and over-the-counter medicines to meet their individual daily health and performance needs. Natural as a marketing term or descriptor is meaningless to most of them. They prefer 'authentic' to natural. It speaks to what they are looking for in the brands they trust.
But before you rush to hang out a 'We’re Authentic' sign, make sure that it honestly comes from inside the company and can be validated. Millennials can smell hypocrisy a mile away, and they will hunt you down if you try to pull one over on them. It won’t be pretty.
In terms of pitching a brand to millennials, what matters most to them is not advertising or overt sales promotion, but rather what their friends, peers and families think about a particular product or service. They would prefer to see or hear testimonials or read reviews from peers or siblings or close friends.
They don’t want to be sold. They want to know how what you have to offer can improve the way they live their life. And they use social media outlets, websites and smartphones to access that user-generated content. It holds more weight than any other single source.
If you are not incorporating user-generated content into your marketing outreach, you are passing by a significant opportunity to open a powerful channel of communication. And don’t forget that the most important rule about your brand content is that it needs to be easily shared with others. So video is ideal, followed by still graphics or a combination of words and graphics. When someone shares your content with a friend, it’s more about their friendship with that person than about your brand content, but you have been allowed to participate in that exchange, which is where the value comes in for the brand.