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How Millennials are changing advertising

Part one of Alita Harvey-Rodriguez’s analysis of how Millennials are shaping the future of advertising. 

The future of your advertising is changing and the Millennials are driving that change.

Are you keeping up?
If you want your share of the Millennial market, you need to understand who they are exactly and how they are connecting. What worked for Baby Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Yers may not work on Millennials. They are a different breed of shoppers and have every right to be. With each new generation, advertisers have to adapt because the old ways may won’t work… but many companies believe that “tried and true” methods are carved in stone and because they worked in the past, they will work in the future. This misguided attitude will only result in getting left behind, becoming irrelevant and losing significant revenue and brand equity.

Who Are Millennials?
Millennials (ages 15-34) have been called spoiled. They’ve been called entitled. Everybody is a winner and everybody gets a gold star just for showing up.

We may hate those traits in them, but like all generations before them, Millennials are standing upon the shoulders of giants and the previous generations, and they are improving on what the previous generations experienced.

Except, they are doing it faster – a lot faster.

Millennials are digital natives. They are the first generation to have grown up with smartphones, tablets and laptops as extensions of their bodies and brains. They are tech-agile idealists whose expectations are still emerging (due to their age and life experiences), and instant access to social media and the internet is at their beck and call 24/7.

The way Millennials consume information, and act on it, is different from their parents’ generation. Over the next two decades, Millennials will only increase their purchasing power and drive economies. It’s up to advertisers to come up with a new approach to this emerging and powerful market… and quickly.

However, it’s important to note that only about 42 per cent of Millennials (36 million) are hyper-connected, according to a study by advertising agency Carat. What about the other 49 million? Are they all joined at the hip to their mobile devices?

No. They are not. And so, your marketing efforts aimed at Millennials has to be more creative than just flooding the internet with your message.

Doug Ray, US CEO and Global President of Carat, says that marketing to Millennials as a homogeneous segment is “like marketing to an entire country.” That blanket approach does not take into account individual needs and preferences. As with any other segment, focusing efforts on one group that is easily tracked, completely misses the mark on the rest of the population.

This is a mobile and changeable market segment made up of individuals who all want to feel recognised and be heard. It’s vital to see them as individual people, not one big generation. Millennials can be broken down into smaller groups. These groups, as defined by Carat, include:

● “Trend-netters”: this is the stereotypical Millennial, a digital extrovert who spreads trends (they rarely set trends, but they spread trends). This culture-savvy, hip group is easy to track because they are joined at the hip with their devices and their often impulsive purchases centre on brands that communicate luxury and the good life. Trend-netters make up about 42 per cent of this generation.

● Alter-natives: this younger segment of Millennials – 23 per cent – is less conformist and image-conscious. They only share with select people, and because of their strong desire for privacy, they only share what they want others to know. According to Carat, this group doesn’t feel the need to have the latest gadget, and they are less concerned with image.

● Lifepreneurs: 19 per cent of Millennials are concerned with life balance. They are okay with not being connected 24/7; while they are ambitious, they also set firm boundaries. This group seeks out reliable, practical brands that convey value.

● Beta-Blazers: This 16 per cent is comprised of the true trend-setters. They seek out story-driven brands, niche brands that convey quality and integrity, and do not purchase because of a brand’s popularity.

Read part two of Alita Harvey-Rodriguez’s analysis, titled 10 steps to Millennial marketing success, here

Alita Harvey-Rodriguez is a leading Australian Digital Marketing Futurist and the brains behind Milk it Academy.

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