Marketing to Generation Y: Earn Their Love & Loyalty

They were born between 1980 and 1994 (some say 1980-2000) and are responsible for more than a fifth of consumer spending in the United States. Called Generation Y or Millennials, they spend $200 billion a year – much of it online – and bought a quarter of the new cars sold in 2015It’s no surprise, then, that marketing to Generation Y is a critical component of most businesses’ reach out strategy.

But Millennials are a confusing generation. They’re the first ones who grew up with computers. The concept of prioritizing children’s needs was more prevalent during this generation’s childood. They’re the driving force behind 21% of the US economy, but also the driving force behind the sharing economy – from online reviews to staying at strangers’ houses when they travel.

What does successful marketing to Generation Y look like?

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Marketing to Generation Y? Don’t Make These Mistakes

Before we cover the best practices, let’s figure out what you want to avoid.

Don’t Assume You Can Buy Millennials with a Discount

Reducing your prices might be an entry-level mistake for small businesses, but it’s something companies of all sizes do to trigger the fear of missing out a great discount in potential customers.

But reaching Millennials takes more work than that.

According to Goldman Sachs, less than 35% of Millennials will prefer your product solely based on price. Around 55% care more about the value they receive from your product.

Numbers change between studies – AdWeek reports that 75% of Millennnials chose high-quality products as the most important brand characteristic. But the trend is clear: Millennials are not susceptible to the same marketing tricks that worked on their parents. 

Don’t Oversell When Advertising to Generation Y

Gen Y grew up inundated with commercials. They grew up switching the channel, going to the bathroom or taking a snack during commercial breaks on TV. They grew up in cities filled with the printed precursors to banner ads – billboards, posters, bus marquees. They matured as the Internet matured, meaning they saw banner ads again and again as they gained their title of “digital natives”.

It’s not that they’ve lost their patience for commercials and ads. It’s that they’ve grown blind to it – unless you give them a reason to pay attention.

3 Crucial Practices When Marketing to Generation Y

The good news is that Millennials are pro-brands – AdWeek reports that 45% say that brands play an essential role in their lives. So advertising to Generation Y isn’t a lost cause.

According to AdWeek, 79% of them are willing to give sponsored videos a chance and start watching it, for example. If they like it, 55% will watch it more than once. But you have to make your advertising interesting and value-driven enough, just like any other piece of content.

Here’s how to do it:

Be Online and Be on Mobile

Millennnials will roll their eyes and complain to their friends about the complete lack of sense it makes when you ask them to send a fax. Many of them have used computers since before they knew how to write, so they find it challenging to trust businesses that aren’t online. For them, it’s like doing business in the Stone Age.

They can’t understand it, and they’re not interested in participating. Millennials like simplicity, and doing business with companies who aren’t present online feels like too much of a hassle.

The same is true for companies who don’t prioritize mobile. Inc reports that, more than any other generation, Millennials are likely to be using mobile apps.

If you’re interested in reaching Millennials, you’ve got to be where they are – you’ve got to develop a mobile app, or at the very least have a responsive website and mobile-friendly ads.

Build Relationships with Gen Yers

While marketing to Generation Y isn’t a lost cause, it’s how you do it that matters. Millennials trust friend recommendations, peer reviews, and brands that build trust with them way more than they trust cold ads.

What does building a relationship means?

It means consistently developing content that helps Millennials reach their goals. Useful and entertaining content helps Millennials grow to know a company, grow to like it, and eventually grow to trust it as an entity that cares about what matters to Millennials.

And what matters to 75% of Millennials, according to AdWeek, is to become smarter by consuming branded content.

Millennials want to participate in the conversation. AdWeek reports that 54% of Millennials prefer a two-way conversation with brands, and like to get involved in campaigns – just like these two best friends who participated in a Coca-Cola campaign:

marketing to generation y coca cola

Source: Coca Cola via Instagram

And just like in any relationship, Millennials care about the personality of the entity they engage with. 53% want to engage with, and buy from, a brand that fits their personality, reports AdWeek.

That’s why many of them will probably relate to this Instagram post from PayPal. The post tells the story of PayPal’s principle of enterprise technology, Silvia Vasquez-Lavado, who created Courageous Girls, a “group that helps heal women of abuse through adventure and nature.” The post continues to share how Silvia and “a group of Courageous Girls summited Everest, making Silvia the first Pervuian person and gay woman to climb every summit.”

marketing to gen y csr

Source: PayPal via Instagram

This post humanizes PayPal. It gives it the personality of a courageous, inspiring woman, who achieves the impossible and helps others do the same. Millennials, who grew up with the need to fulfill themselves, can relate to that. They’ll want to keep in touch with a company who has executives like this.

Believe in Millennials, Because Everyone Else Puts them Down

The Guardian points out that if you “type ‘Generation Y are’ into your search bar… Google suggests the following ends to your query: ‘generation y are lazy,’ ‘idiots,’ and ‘unhappy.’” It goes on to explain that these accusations are so common that Millennials have adopted them. They label themselves as “self-absorbed” (59%) and “wasteful” (49%).

When marketing to Generation Y, give them some love. Show them you believe in what they have to offer, in the advantages of learning to put themselves first and fulfill themselves. Show them that you believe they can realize their dreams.

Be authentic about it, and you could turn into one of these brands Millennials consider an essential part of their lives.

What do you enjoy most about marketing to Generation Y? Any best practices we missed? Share them with us in the comments!

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Written by Ayelet Weisz

Ayelet Weisz is a copywriter who starts every day by dancing, before going on to help companies from four continents increase ROI and make a difference with content.