Marketing to the “ME” generation

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Marketing as you know it, is an age long profession. But never in the long history of the trade have things changed dramatically over the past few years in the way and manner that the practice is delivered. A significant part of these changes can be attributed to the “ME” generation popularly referred to as the millennials! So who are the people in this generation? These are people born from the early 80s to the early 2000. Common characteristics applicable to them are:

  • It is all about ME! ME!! ME!!! They have a unique sense of self.
  • First generation to grow up with the internet. They were born when the internet was already a phenomenon……. They like to spend huge amounts of time on Social media platforms i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat
  • They are tech savvy and have the world at their fingertips
  • They believe the world is theirs for the taking and that almost nothing is impossible.
  • They like to share…. They are always forwarding, sharing, liking, tweeting, snapping, pinning, posting and all and all…..
  • They are well ahead of their time and their parents.
  • They want to stand out from everyone else and be noticed for being relevant
  • They want to be the first to introduce their friends to something new, the first to spread the word
  • They long for recognition and appreciation
  • They are the selfie generation!!!

According to the last census figures, they constitute about 70% of the entire population in Nigeria. This is definitely a group that cannot be ignored. Are brands exploiting this to their advantage? Are they speaking the language of the millennials?

The selfie generation have redefined how marketing is practiced. They are playing the game by their own rules. Gone are the days when brands talk to their customers/consumers in a monologue and expect the consumers to take it or leave it. Now they determine what, where and how they want it. They are challenging brands and engaging them head on.

The selfie generation are lucky to be born and raised at a time when their choices are enormous and limitless, a reality they are exploiting to their full advantage! Any brand that wants to remain relevant do not have a choice but to listen to them. They have to court their friendship and their loyalty, they have to build a relationship that is long lasting.

I will just highlight some peculiarities with the millenials, in addition to their expectations from brands.

  1. What is in it for me?: The first question they ask when a brand is trying to engage them is “what is in this for me?” any brand that cannot clearly articulate that is losing it. Gone are the days when brands sell their benefits to them and expect them to buy it just because they have said it! Now, it is about understanding what they want and giving it to them. They are not excited about delayed gratification, it’s all about instant gratification!
  2. Engagement: It is important to engage the millennial regularly and precisely. It goes beyond product availability and few online presence here and there! To start with, traditional means of communication to them, is at best a wall paper. They want to be engaged in their own spaces. The conversation is multi-dimensional and not a monologue. Gone are the days when brands speak to their consumers, the millennial are demanding a roundtable discussion.
  3. Content is king: They spend a considerable amount of time online and as such content is very important to them. They also want to be involved in the contents generated by their brands, which has led to an upsurge in consumer generated contents, especially on the social media platforms. They want to co-create with brands; this has given them a sense of belonging. Examples of brands that have done this successfully are Microsoft, Coca-Cola, MTV amongst others.
  4. Respect their individuality: Personalization is very important to them, they want to be treated as individuals; not part of a group of people. They want personalized messages that speaks directly to them and not to be treated as if they are one out of a million. I was speaking with a 20 year old few weeks ago and asked him if he participated in a big consumer activation recently executed by a brand. His answer was a shock to me…. “I don’t deal with mainstream brands”. His point of view was that any campaign that seems to be for everybody is definitely not for him because he likes to stand out from the crowd!
  5. Aligning with a cause: They choose brands whose ideology aligns with theirs and a lot of decisions they make are based on this. From where to buy and what brands to buy, to where they want to work and where to invest their money. They often have common causes that they support. As such, they would identify with brands who share the same ideology with them.
  6. Shopping is an experience: For the millennials, they see shopping as an experience. Whether this is done online or offline – they do not necessarily see shopping as a task but more as pleasure and an avenue for socializing. During a shopping journey, they spend time hanging out with friends, while online shopping can at best be described as entertainment for them. Brands wishing to court them should make these experiences as much fun as required.
  7. Value proposition: They want to buy at the best price possible. For them, value perception is not so much about the absolute price being offered, but whether it is worth the price tag on it.
  8. Human side: Millennial want to associate with brands that have a human side,  brands that demonstrate emotions and act with empathy. A human brand shows warmth and is not aloof. Brands have moved beyond being mere objects!

With all said and done, only brands that connects with their attitude, values and aspirations will have the staying power.

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