in marketing

How Do You Market to a Millennial?

I‘m 24 years old – and at my age, I represent a demographic of individuals we so commonly refer to as “Generation Y” – or, if you prefer, the “Millennials”. We were born and raised during a period of technological innovation never before conceived. We sat up on AIM for hours chatting with our friends back in middle school – we downloaded illegal music on Napster – we “blogged” about our social lives on Xanga and Livejournal – we were the early adopters of Myspace until, well, it got totally lame and a hangout for creepy folks – we vividly remember when Facebook first hit our college campus, back in the day when everyone was friends with everyone and after that party on Saturday night, you went back the next day and added all those people you downed a shot with and vaguely recall from your half-drunk stupor, only to occasionally post “We should hang out some time” on their wall. You know what I’m talking about.

Raised on Tech

We’ve been there, we’ve been through it all (or at least a lot). We are the Millennial generation and we’re more in tune with technology and the online world than ever before. Can you even imagine a world without the Internet? The first thing that comes to my mind is all-out anarchy. People setting things on fire, looting retail stores and running naked through the streets. It’s unfathomable, really.

You already know all this – you understand where YOU stand in modern day “connected” world that we live in.

But a lot of folks don’t  – we (collectively) present a hell of a challenge to companies  and marketers everywhere. How does a business communicate with the people of our generation? Why are marketers making the shift from more traditional (TV, radio, print) mediums in favor of the Internet?

On Wednesday, I have the pleasure and honor of sharing the stage with three individuals who are doing big things and command a lot of respect at the CPG Retail Summit in San Antonio. Lauren Fernandez, Adrienne Waldo, Kenji Summers, and yours truly will be center stage in front of 1,000+ corporate executives, PR reps, and marketers who want to know ONE thing: “How do you market to a Millennial”?

The (Marketing) Game has Changed for Generation Y

The game has changed – that goes without saying. We live in a “sales” environment nowadays that is much less about sales and much more about influencing and making an impression. We (again, generalizing and referring to the “collective” Gen Y population) don’t want to be sold to – we don’t respond well to the generic sales pitch and in short, it’s a big turn off.

We have the tools at our disposal to make our own buying decisions easier than ever before. Think about what you do before you buy something online. More than likely you read reviews, sample it (music), and do significant research before dropping a dime.

The “old school” sales process is dead in the water – we’re making our own buying decisions. But that doesn’t mean we’re not influenced (sometimes VERY easily) especially by people we trust – friends – colleagues – other connections and people we respect. And that’s where the money’s at for the businesses out there – researching, listening, monitoring, and targeting the influencers out there – not (only) as a business, but as a friend, as a trusted resource, as someONE who is genuinely interested in making a connection and building a relationship.

How Do You Market to a Millennial?

On Wednesday I’ll be sharing the stage with a group of Gen Y influencers, hand picked to address this exact topic. I want to bring some of YOUR thoughts and ideas to the table – and would love for you to sound off below in the comments in response to the following questions:

  • How often do you shop online?
  • Has Social Media changed the way you shop?
  • What are your biggest motivators when making (online) purchase decisions?
  • How should marketers focus on “tapping into” our generation? What good (or bad) examples do you have of a company “selling” to you?
  • What causes YOU to become “loyal” to a particular brand?

(Image c/o didE)

Add Your Voice

Comment

53 Comments

  1. @Matt:

    First congrats on achieving influnencer status.

    Shopping Online: I make about 1-2 purchases a month. I just bought my iphone online. It really comes down to how comfortable I feel. I would never buy clothes online because I’d have to try them on first. But, electronics, books, etc, I always buy online.

    Social Media Impact on Shopping: Absolutely it has changed the way I shop. I’ll often ask for advice on Facebook or Twitter on where the best deals are for something I’m looking to purchase. Before I purchased my iphone, I was on Twitter asking about how to get the best deal.

    Motivators: Price, then recommendations from people.

    How to Tap your Generation: Put free products in the hands of the influencers. It’s as simple as that. The benefit of doing that far outweighs the cost. Let’s say somebody releases a hip new phone trying to compete with iphone. That’s not the best example, but putting that new phone in the hands of somebody who has a substantial following like some well known bloggers and having them write about it would not be nearly as costly as some nationwide campaign. Also, let’s face it. The millenials fresh out of college often are not rolling in dollars.

    Loyalty: For me it comes down to customer service. When customer service goes above and beyond their call of duty. I’m a huge Apple fan because they seem to do anything to keep you happy. Example: The keyboard panel on my laptop was cracked. They replaced it for free even though my warranty was over.

    • Hey Srinivas. I think I’ve got a long way to go to be a “bonafide” influencer, but thanks my friend. First, I gotta say that I am pretty old-school when it comes to buying – I don’t do a whole lot of shopping online – even music – I prefer to go and get the actual CD. Call me crazy. BUT, with that being said, I am heavily influenced by what other people are doing/saying/recommending online. Like you, I often tweet out a question about something I’m thinking about buying to get the impression of other people. Twitter is pretty amazing if you’re looking for immediate feedback and ideas.

      Second, I love your point about putting something free in the hands of influencers – out of college we’re not making the big bucks, but we do have a voice that carries. This is something I am going to really touch on during the discussion on Wednesday. A LITTLE free can go a LONG way.

      And last – YES to customer service – we want a buying EXPERIENCE – it’s not just a product anymore, it’s more about the overall transaction and approach between buyer and seller. Good thoughts all around (as always).

  2. @Matt:

    First congrats on achieving influnencer status.

    Shopping Online: I make about 1-2 purchases a month. I just bought my iphone online. It really comes down to how comfortable I feel. I would never buy clothes online because I’d have to try them on first. But, electronics, books, etc, I always buy online.

    Social Media Impact on Shopping: Absolutely it has changed the way I shop. I’ll often ask for advice on Facebook or Twitter on where the best deals are for something I’m looking to purchase. Before I purchased my iphone, I was on Twitter asking about how to get the best deal.

    Motivators: Price, then recommendations from people.

    How to Tap your Generation: Put free products in the hands of the influencers. It’s as simple as that. The benefit of doing that far outweighs the cost. Let’s say somebody releases a hip new phone trying to compete with iphone. That’s not the best example, but putting that new phone in the hands of somebody who has a substantial following like some well known bloggers and having them write about it would not be nearly as costly as some nationwide campaign. Also, let’s face it. The millenials fresh out of college often are not rolling in dollars.

    Loyalty: For me it comes down to customer service. When customer service goes above and beyond their call of duty. I’m a huge Apple fan because they seem to do anything to keep you happy. Example: The keyboard panel on my laptop was cracked. They replaced it for free even though my warranty was over.

    • Hey Srinivas. I think I’ve got a long way to go to be a “bonafide” influencer, but thanks my friend. First, I gotta say that I am pretty old-school when it comes to buying – I don’t do a whole lot of shopping online – even music – I prefer to go and get the actual CD. Call me crazy. BUT, with that being said, I am heavily influenced by what other people are doing/saying/recommending online. Like you, I often tweet out a question about something I’m thinking about buying to get the impression of other people. Twitter is pretty amazing if you’re looking for immediate feedback and ideas.

      Second, I love your point about putting something free in the hands of influencers – out of college we’re not making the big bucks, but we do have a voice that carries. This is something I am going to really touch on during the discussion on Wednesday. A LITTLE free can go a LONG way.

      And last – YES to customer service – we want a buying EXPERIENCE – it’s not just a product anymore, it’s more about the overall transaction and approach between buyer and seller. Good thoughts all around (as always).

  3. Matt – I echo the congratulations!

    * How often do you shop online? —- Probably once every few months.

    * Has Social Media changed the way you shop? — not at ALL…..

    * What are your biggest motivators when making (online) purchase decisions? — I read the reviews that I can find with google. Consumer reports. Etc. Online credibility and reputation is huge!

    * What causes YOU to become “loyal” to a particular brand?

    Customer service, of all things. This is still key. AND showing me that a company cares about me even though I am young is huge.

    • I think we’re unanimous that customer service is where it’s at when it comes to brand loyalty – you treat us good, we’ll remain loyal and keep buying your stuff. Simple yet often forgotten.

      With your point, do you think it makes the most sense for companies to focus on sending press releases, etc to the “big” online influencers such as Google, TechCrunch, etc – rather than individual people who are talking via Social Media? You mentioned that Social Media has not at all changed the way you shop, so I’m interested in your thoughts…

  4. Matt – I echo the congratulations!

    * How often do you shop online? —- Probably once every few months.

    * Has Social Media changed the way you shop? — not at ALL…..

    * What are your biggest motivators when making (online) purchase decisions? — I read the reviews that I can find with google. Consumer reports. Etc. Online credibility and reputation is huge!

    * What causes YOU to become “loyal” to a particular brand?

    Customer service, of all things. This is still key. AND showing me that a company cares about me even though I am young is huge.

    • I think we’re unanimous that customer service is where it’s at when it comes to brand loyalty – you treat us good, we’ll remain loyal and keep buying your stuff. Simple yet often forgotten.

      With your point, do you think it makes the most sense for companies to focus on sending press releases, etc to the “big” online influencers such as Google, TechCrunch, etc – rather than individual people who are talking via Social Media? You mentioned that Social Media has not at all changed the way you shop, so I’m interested in your thoughts…

  5. This is so true, I’ve often wondered if it was just me or everyone in my generation. I have strong preferences on this.

    I do thorough research online and I truly despise talking to salespeople. Recently, I had a salesperson insist on multiple phone calls, eventually wasting 45 minutes of my time trying to warm me up to become a client. Little did he know I was already sold before the conversation, but much less so after.

    Online marketing – the yellow highlighter ads are a turn off and make legitimate products look like scams.

    Online shopping – I favor stores that make it easy. I’d much prefer a higher priced product with free shipping and free no-hassle returns as opposed to a cheaper priced product but an additional $8 shipping and another $8 if it doesn’t work out.

    For clothing and shoe purchases, I like to go to brick and mortar stores to try things on. I do not like when multiple salespeople come up to me and say, “What brings you in today?/Can I help you find anything?” ONE “Good afternoon” is plenty.

    A bad experience dealt with well creates my loyalty to a brand. Example: when something goes wrong, and I am treated well during the grievance process, with the outcome being just as positive as if nothing ever went wrong in the first place. That creates trust and any ambivalence/uncertainty I had toward the brand is gone.

    • Hi Eva – Great to see you here and thanks for lending some great thoughts to this discussion.

      I’m not a fan of the sales process either – I tweeted over the weekend that I “hate clothes shopping” – much of that ws fueled by the fact that I was heckled to death walking around the store looking for clothes. I (and most people) just want to go in, find what we’re looking for, and get out. I can’t think of anyone who actually ENJOYS being asked 15 times if you’re “doing OK”. (Maybe this is why I never survived in retail back in the day – I couldn’t break this mindset)

      Also – you make an interesting point (that I agree with) when it comes to paying a premium for quality service and simplicity. We’re living in a society where “less is more” – We don’t want strings attached, we don’t want hassle – again – we want to do what we need to do without a hitch, even if it means paying a little extra to do it.

      Last – your point about bad experiences – this is SO key about the customer service process. What EVERY business needs to know is that the bad situations you’re faced with can lead to the most positive customer loyalty – if you remedy the situation, and make a genuine effort to right your wrong, you develop trust – you let the customer know that “even when something bad happens, we’ll take care of you”.

  6. This is so true, I’ve often wondered if it was just me or everyone in my generation. I have strong preferences on this.

    I do thorough research online and I truly despise talking to salespeople. Recently, I had a salesperson insist on multiple phone calls, eventually wasting 45 minutes of my time trying to warm me up to become a client. Little did he know I was already sold before the conversation, but much less so after.

    Online marketing – the yellow highlighter ads are a turn off and make legitimate products look like scams.

    Online shopping – I favor stores that make it easy. I’d much prefer a higher priced product with free shipping and free no-hassle returns as opposed to a cheaper priced product but an additional $8 shipping and another $8 if it doesn’t work out.

    For clothing and shoe purchases, I like to go to brick and mortar stores to try things on. I do not like when multiple salespeople come up to me and say, “What brings you in today?/Can I help you find anything?” ONE “Good afternoon” is plenty.

    A bad experience dealt with well creates my loyalty to a brand. Example: when something goes wrong, and I am treated well during the grievance process, with the outcome being just as positive as if nothing ever went wrong in the first place. That creates trust and any ambivalence/uncertainty I had toward the brand is gone.

    • Hi Eva – Great to see you here and thanks for lending some great thoughts to this discussion.

      I’m not a fan of the sales process either – I tweeted over the weekend that I “hate clothes shopping” – much of that ws fueled by the fact that I was heckled to death walking around the store looking for clothes. I (and most people) just want to go in, find what we’re looking for, and get out. I can’t think of anyone who actually ENJOYS being asked 15 times if you’re “doing OK”. (Maybe this is why I never survived in retail back in the day – I couldn’t break this mindset)

      Also – you make an interesting point (that I agree with) when it comes to paying a premium for quality service and simplicity. We’re living in a society where “less is more” – We don’t want strings attached, we don’t want hassle – again – we want to do what we need to do without a hitch, even if it means paying a little extra to do it.

      Last – your point about bad experiences – this is SO key about the customer service process. What EVERY business needs to know is that the bad situations you’re faced with can lead to the most positive customer loyalty – if you remedy the situation, and make a genuine effort to right your wrong, you develop trust – you let the customer know that “even when something bad happens, we’ll take care of you”.

  7. Hey Matt – a subject close to my heart.

    Enjoy the conference.

    I buy online frequently. Office supplies through to furniture through to music. I’m a bit reluctant to buy stuff which needs to fit me well, bikes, clothes etc.

    Social media is useful it adds to the personal and close friend experiences I gather – so it helps me make a decision on certain things. My daughter’s MP3 player had a lot of good write ups which helped me choose it. As Srinivas says, it’s useful for advice too.

    Motivators – good reputation – both product and service (when things work that’s great but if and when they don’t I need to know I’m gonna get the support I need). Price is relevant – don’t want to feel I’m getting ripped but I will pay extra if a company gets great service ratings. I believe that companies who give great service generally treat their people well so that flicks a switch for me.

    In my line of business I think buying is more important than selling. It takes time to develop a relationship where people will buy from you, but I think that’s usually the start of something more sustainable. Selling often feels very transactional and one sided. If you buy from me there’s a feeling of some trust, some sense of reciprocity going on.

    I’m going with Srinivas again here. Service wins every time. You can smell good service coming a mile off, it’s just the best!

    Have fun on Wednesday!

    • The point I take away from your comment Doug, and many others I’ve spoken with: Price is NOT the most important determining factor in the buying decision – reputation comes first, and collectively we’re willing to pay a little bit more for something we trust – that others recommend, etc. Something for businesses to think about – you can charge a slighlty more premium rate for your product or service if you have the customer service to back it up. Agreed?

      • Agreed. And I believe that good service comes from good people with a purpose and a sense of intrinsic motivation. Something I’d equally pay a bit more for. Richard Branson said “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.” I agree with him on this too and I think it’s an essential part of the loop which keeps folk coming back for more.

  8. Hey Matt – a subject close to my heart.

    Enjoy the conference.

    I buy online frequently. Office supplies through to furniture through to music. I’m a bit reluctant to buy stuff which needs to fit me well, bikes, clothes etc.

    Social media is useful it adds to the personal and close friend experiences I gather – so it helps me make a decision on certain things. My daughter’s MP3 player had a lot of good write ups which helped me choose it. As Srinivas says, it’s useful for advice too.

    Motivators – good reputation – both product and service (when things work that’s great but if and when they don’t I need to know I’m gonna get the support I need). Price is relevant – don’t want to feel I’m getting ripped but I will pay extra if a company gets great service ratings. I believe that companies who give great service generally treat their people well so that flicks a switch for me.

    In my line of business I think buying is more important than selling. It takes time to develop a relationship where people will buy from you, but I think that’s usually the start of something more sustainable. Selling often feels very transactional and one sided. If you buy from me there’s a feeling of some trust, some sense of reciprocity going on.

    I’m going with Srinivas again here. Service wins every time. You can smell good service coming a mile off, it’s just the best!

    Have fun on Wednesday!

    • The point I take away from your comment Doug, and many others I’ve spoken with: Price is NOT the most important determining factor in the buying decision – reputation comes first, and collectively we’re willing to pay a little bit more for something we trust – that others recommend, etc. Something for businesses to think about – you can charge a slighlty more premium rate for your product or service if you have the customer service to back it up. Agreed?

      • Agreed. And I believe that good service comes from good people with a purpose and a sense of intrinsic motivation. Something I’d equally pay a bit more for. Richard Branson said “The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.” I agree with him on this too and I think it’s an essential part of the loop which keeps folk coming back for more.

  9. Matt-
    What causes YOU to become “loyal” to a particular brand? I think that our generation (more than any other before it) values brands that give back. Cause marketing has exploded, partly because our generation is extremely responsive to brands that are ‘green’, give portions of sales to non-profits, etc. Take for example the TOMS brand OR the current marketing campaign for the Pepsi Refresh project. Our generation responds when corporatiions are humble and value giving back. That’s when many of us become loyal. For example, why do so many young people shop at Whole Foods where prices may be double that of another grocery store? Because they offer the ‘organic’ factor. The idea of putting the earth and our bodies first. We could save money by shopping elsewhere, but we’re loyal to their principle and often times will even pay more for it.
    -Ben

    • Ben this is great stuff! Reciprocity, the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, principle of give-and-take, it’s how I choose to run my business and you’ve put it very nicely. With yours and Matt’s permission may I quote your good thinking on a future blog – credited accordingly of course.

      Good work – Doug

      • GREAT point Ben. I’m with you 100%. I’m always more supportive of a company who is serving that “added” bottom line. Sustainable business will be huge in the future – we’re already seeing it take over the market in many ways – and almost EVERY big business at this point has a sustainability division (or something of that nature – maybe with a cooler name). “Humble” is the key word here that I’m taking away – we respond to companies who aren’t too proud to give back, who aren’t above talking to the “little people” (aka you and I) on Twitter, etc and actually spending time building a genuine relationship. That’s where it’s at – that’s what we connect with and what will ultimately lead to the most $$$ for a business. Thanks for your comment!

  10. Matt-
    What causes YOU to become “loyal” to a particular brand? I think that our generation (more than any other before it) values brands that give back. Cause marketing has exploded, partly because our generation is extremely responsive to brands that are ‘green’, give portions of sales to non-profits, etc. Take for example the TOMS brand OR the current marketing campaign for the Pepsi Refresh project. Our generation responds when corporatiions are humble and value giving back. That’s when many of us become loyal. For example, why do so many young people shop at Whole Foods where prices may be double that of another grocery store? Because they offer the ‘organic’ factor. The idea of putting the earth and our bodies first. We could save money by shopping elsewhere, but we’re loyal to their principle and often times will even pay more for it.
    -Ben

    • Ben this is great stuff! Reciprocity, the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, principle of give-and-take, it’s how I choose to run my business and you’ve put it very nicely. With yours and Matt’s permission may I quote your good thinking on a future blog – credited accordingly of course.

      Good work – Doug

      • GREAT point Ben. I’m with you 100%. I’m always more supportive of a company who is serving that “added” bottom line. Sustainable business will be huge in the future – we’re already seeing it take over the market in many ways – and almost EVERY big business at this point has a sustainability division (or something of that nature – maybe with a cooler name). “Humble” is the key word here that I’m taking away – we respond to companies who aren’t too proud to give back, who aren’t above talking to the “little people” (aka you and I) on Twitter, etc and actually spending time building a genuine relationship. That’s where it’s at – that’s what we connect with and what will ultimately lead to the most $$$ for a business. Thanks for your comment!

  11. It’s crazy how well you summed up Millennials in the first paragraph: I’m 21 and that’s exactly how I used technology during my formative years.
    How often do you shop online?
    I usually do research online–which only causes me to put off my decision making even longer since I’m inundated with data–and then buy in store. I don’t like buying clothes online or paying for shipping if it’s available at the mall near me.
    Has Social Media changed the way you shop?
    I’ll find brands on Twitter if I buy a product that I really like, and then tweet about them and tag the brand in the post.
    What are your biggest motivators when making (online) purchase decisions?
    -Better prices, especially when I can compare prices at different outlets.
    -Free shipping/free returns: This eliminates a lot of online purchase anxiety for me.
    How should marketers focus on “tapping into” our generation? What good (or bad) examples do you have of a company “selling” to you?
    A friend had recommended the Yes to Carrots brand to me on Twitter–she knows my interest in organic products. I responded saying that i hadn’t tried the products since I couldn’t find them in the stores near me. Yes to Carrots noticed the Twitter conversation, reached out to me on Twitter and then email, and sent me a package with a ton of free products to try. Great way to get me to try the products and tell my friends about what a cool company they were.
    What causes YOU to become “loyal” to a particular brand?
    A good product and good customer service.

  12. It’s crazy how well you summed up Millennials in the first paragraph: I’m 21 and that’s exactly how I used technology during my formative years.
    How often do you shop online?
    I usually do research online–which only causes me to put off my decision making even longer since I’m inundated with data–and then buy in store. I don’t like buying clothes online or paying for shipping if it’s available at the mall near me.
    Has Social Media changed the way you shop?
    I’ll find brands on Twitter if I buy a product that I really like, and then tweet about them and tag the brand in the post.
    What are your biggest motivators when making (online) purchase decisions?
    -Better prices, especially when I can compare prices at different outlets.
    -Free shipping/free returns: This eliminates a lot of online purchase anxiety for me.
    How should marketers focus on “tapping into” our generation? What good (or bad) examples do you have of a company “selling” to you?
    A friend had recommended the Yes to Carrots brand to me on Twitter–she knows my interest in organic products. I responded saying that i hadn’t tried the products since I couldn’t find them in the stores near me. Yes to Carrots noticed the Twitter conversation, reached out to me on Twitter and then email, and sent me a package with a ton of free products to try. Great way to get me to try the products and tell my friends about what a cool company they were.
    What causes YOU to become “loyal” to a particular brand?
    A good product and good customer service.

  13. I’ll jump in here because this seems to be the question I get asked the most often when I talk to brands and partners, both as they relate to 20 Something Bloggers and other environments. I never blog about this stuff on my own blog, so hey.

    We’re in an economy that’s increasingly dependent on social capital. It’s far more important that people and brands act human than it is to be catchy, trendy, or even interesting, for that matter. You’re always marketing now; we’re always watching, and the brands that are acting like they are anything but another person at the party will quickly be ushered out the door.

    In my experience, the younger crowd is used to having an opinion that they can easily communicate to crowds. We’ve never been hindered by technology, and we’ve had direct back channels to one another since AOL made it possible to chat after hours with total strangers and best friends. We will find ways to say what we think about you, so your money is best spent making real connections with us.

    To me, the best analogy for the best brands for young adults right now is “my recently rich lottery winner best friend”. We don’t have lots of money. You do. Spend your money so that we all have more fun, make a bigger impact, and find new friends that we might have in common with. Throw great parties. Plan great trips. Show us great toys. Help us be better versions of ourselves, and we’ll return that favor with loyalty and referrals.

    Just make sure that you are the Person Who Got Rich and took that opportunity to be genuinely awesome, helpful, and humble.

    Don’t be the guy who starts thinking he deserved it.

  14. I’ll jump in here because this seems to be the question I get asked the most often when I talk to brands and partners, both as they relate to 20 Something Bloggers and other environments. I never blog about this stuff on my own blog, so hey.

    We’re in an economy that’s increasingly dependent on social capital. It’s far more important that people and brands act human than it is to be catchy, trendy, or even interesting, for that matter. You’re always marketing now; we’re always watching, and the brands that are acting like they are anything but another person at the party will quickly be ushered out the door.

    In my experience, the younger crowd is used to having an opinion that they can easily communicate to crowds. We’ve never been hindered by technology, and we’ve had direct back channels to one another since AOL made it possible to chat after hours with total strangers and best friends. We will find ways to say what we think about you, so your money is best spent making real connections with us.

    To me, the best analogy for the best brands for young adults right now is “my recently rich lottery winner best friend”. We don’t have lots of money. You do. Spend your money so that we all have more fun, make a bigger impact, and find new friends that we might have in common with. Throw great parties. Plan great trips. Show us great toys. Help us be better versions of ourselves, and we’ll return that favor with loyalty and referrals.

    Just make sure that you are the Person Who Got Rich and took that opportunity to be genuinely awesome, helpful, and humble.

    Don’t be the guy who starts thinking he deserved it.

  15. Matt, I think the biggest change in how we look at the Millennials as customers is that the old push method of marketing does not work anymore. We have to now do the right things as business owners so that the Millennials will find us, research us and then decide to buy from us. Kind of the “waiting in the weeds” approach to marketing. Sometimes it is really frustrating when you think you are doing the right things but cannot get noticed. I think, over time, there will be a reversal of some sort to put a little more push into the marketing effort.

  16. Matt, I think the biggest change in how we look at the Millennials as customers is that the old push method of marketing does not work anymore. We have to now do the right things as business owners so that the Millennials will find us, research us and then decide to buy from us. Kind of the “waiting in the weeds” approach to marketing. Sometimes it is really frustrating when you think you are doing the right things but cannot get noticed. I think, over time, there will be a reversal of some sort to put a little more push into the marketing effort.

  17. I’m all about quality. I want to know that something is a value – worth the money I’m putting into it. For large purchases and electronics, I always check Consumer Reports or CNET. I trust friends who have used a product and rave about it. I never buy something blindly. Above all, I think social responsibility is important. Now more than ever, I find myself gravitating toward companies who donate to causes I believe in or use green practices and respect the environment and the people who work for them.

    Good luck with your presentation, Matt! This is really exciting, and I can’t wait to read your follow-up post.

  18. I’m all about quality. I want to know that something is a value – worth the money I’m putting into it. For large purchases and electronics, I always check Consumer Reports or CNET. I trust friends who have used a product and rave about it. I never buy something blindly. Above all, I think social responsibility is important. Now more than ever, I find myself gravitating toward companies who donate to causes I believe in or use green practices and respect the environment and the people who work for them.

    Good luck with your presentation, Matt! This is really exciting, and I can’t wait to read your follow-up post.

  19. I posted this originally on Brazen but thought I’d put it here too, to better be
    part of the conversation.”

    How often do you shop online?
    I shop online less often then I shop brick & mortar. That said, I browse online for items that i consider buying on an almost daily basis. I probably make an online purchase one a week on average.

    Has Social Media changed the way you shop?
    Sites like Woot.com have – though I’m not sure if you’d consider that social media or not. Other than that, social media has changed the way I find out about products – especially large purchases or cutting edge items (software, for example).

    What are your biggest motivators when making (online) purchase decisions?
    Price is a large factor; after that, it depends on the item. For books (amazon), reviews matter, though often I’ll go check them out in person in an actual bookstore before buying… for other items, for example products for my cat (hey, it’s just an example) I read blogs that review products and that I trust.

    How should marketers focus on “tapping into” our generation? What good (or bad) examples do you have of a company “selling” to you?
    Humor is a great way to go viral. And the more times a gen-y student comes across something like that I think the more likely they are to consider the brand “cool” and consider purchasing from that company. Other things that are important are what the company is giving back – while that won’t trump convenience for me, if two goods are equal but different, that can be the feather that tips the scale.

    What causes YOU to become “loyal” to a particular brand?
    Performance is very important. If i buy a product and have a problem, it halves the chance I’ll buy it again, and there is also a good chance I’ll share my dissatisfaction. If the company hears that, and seeks me out to offer to fix the problem there is a chance I’ll come back to them – but I’m not going to bother calling them directly or telling them what’s wrong. they will just lose my business.
    Also, talking to a live person – whether it’s via twitter, on the phone, via email, or some other way, helps. And I’m not talking about Time Warner’s instant chat with service reps (which kind of sucks) but I’m talking about people who actually engage. Who ask what I think and am I satisfied.

    I think gen-y is a vocal generation. If marketers don’t know what we want, they should ask. We tend to respond.

  20. I posted this originally on Brazen but thought I’d put it here too, to better be
    part of the conversation.”

    How often do you shop online?
    I shop online less often then I shop brick & mortar. That said, I browse online for items that i consider buying on an almost daily basis. I probably make an online purchase one a week on average.

    Has Social Media changed the way you shop?
    Sites like Woot.com have – though I’m not sure if you’d consider that social media or not. Other than that, social media has changed the way I find out about products – especially large purchases or cutting edge items (software, for example).

    What are your biggest motivators when making (online) purchase decisions?
    Price is a large factor; after that, it depends on the item. For books (amazon), reviews matter, though often I’ll go check them out in person in an actual bookstore before buying… for other items, for example products for my cat (hey, it’s just an example) I read blogs that review products and that I trust.

    How should marketers focus on “tapping into” our generation? What good (or bad) examples do you have of a company “selling” to you?
    Humor is a great way to go viral. And the more times a gen-y student comes across something like that I think the more likely they are to consider the brand “cool” and consider purchasing from that company. Other things that are important are what the company is giving back – while that won’t trump convenience for me, if two goods are equal but different, that can be the feather that tips the scale.

    What causes YOU to become “loyal” to a particular brand?
    Performance is very important. If i buy a product and have a problem, it halves the chance I’ll buy it again, and there is also a good chance I’ll share my dissatisfaction. If the company hears that, and seeks me out to offer to fix the problem there is a chance I’ll come back to them – but I’m not going to bother calling them directly or telling them what’s wrong. they will just lose my business.
    Also, talking to a live person – whether it’s via twitter, on the phone, via email, or some other way, helps. And I’m not talking about Time Warner’s instant chat with service reps (which kind of sucks) but I’m talking about people who actually engage. Who ask what I think and am I satisfied.

    I think gen-y is a vocal generation. If marketers don’t know what we want, they should ask. We tend to respond.

  21. <rant>

    Marketing to millennial is fairly easy if you think about it. Unlike our parents generation, if we want information the LAST place we go is to the company. We'll Google “Brand Sucks” just as often as “Brand Rocks”. We'll ask our Facebook and Twitter friends their opinions/experiences before making any purchasing decisions. If we still have questions, we'll turn to the company but only after we have a library of information.

    So how do you market to a millennial? We're having conversations – so LISTEN. Listen to what we're saying and when appropriate INTERACT (get in on the conversation) and RESPOND (if we're having an issue, help us).

    Lastly, get brand champions on your side. You can't be everywhere at once! The best marketing tool you have are those “influencers” (to use marketing speak) that will speak on behalf of your company. Example:
    Me: I'm thinking of buying a pair of Nike training pants
    Them: Those things are great! I wore mine to my half marathon and they kept me comfortable. Wash great too.

    It's that easy..insert any product or brand there. If Nike (or any company) were to write me I'd have an air of skepticism. Of course they want me to purchase their product. They're a company. But when a runner says, hey this product really works…that resonates.

    To summarize:
    1. Listen. Interact. Engage.
    2. Utilize brand champions.

    :) Word.

    </rant>

  22. Congratulations on the speaking gig. You will rock the house down there with your group!

    We are the “connected” generation. When employers don't connect to us, we let them go. We are so used to gaining instant engagement from our friends and peers through technology, that we've come to expect this from the supplier of whatever it is we want. When we can engage with them SOMEHOW, even in a little way, we kind of toss them to the side.

  23. Hey Matt!

    First of all, that’s so cool that you’re speaking about this.

    I don’t buy anything except books. I’ve figured out that we humans don’t need to survive, the last 3 generations were tricked into buying stuff by their televisions.

    That being said, businesses need to focus more. On trust, as you said, but on what they can do to help us. We’re very aware of what the benefits of any purchase is. This is why I only buy books, and only books I’ve been recommended by bloggers I respect at that.

    If a business seeks to contribute a service/product that helps a specific niche of Gen-Yers, that will take them 80% of the way to a sale naturally.

    Don’t sell us garbage we don’t want,w e won’t but that anymore.

    We don’t want a house full of useless things, we want freedom. Help us achieve that with your product (e-junkie, paypal, and wordpress do this for me) and you’ve made enough sales to survive.

    Good luck at your speaking gig Matt,

    Everett

  24. Hey Matt!

    First of all, that’s so cool that you’re speaking about this.

    I don’t buy anything except books. I’ve figured out that we humans don’t need to survive, the last 3 generations were tricked into buying stuff by their televisions.

    That being said, businesses need to focus more. On trust, as you said, but on what they can do to help us. We’re very aware of what the benefits of any purchase is. This is why I only buy books, and only books I’ve been recommended by bloggers I respect at that.

    If a business seeks to contribute a service/product that helps a specific niche of Gen-Yers, that will take them 80% of the way to a sale naturally.

    Don’t sell us garbage we don’t want,w e won’t but that anymore.

    We don’t want a house full of useless things, we want freedom. Help us achieve that with your product (e-junkie, paypal, and wordpress do this for me) and you’ve made enough sales to survive.

    Good luck at your speaking gig Matt,

    Everett

  25. That is brilliant by the Yes to Carrots brand. That is a great example of a brand/company listening, monitoring conversation, knowing when to engage, and knowing how to satisfy their customers. And now, look what it's done – it stuck with you and you're writing about it here – impacting hundreds of others who are coming through and reading. That type of viral influence is SO valuable and reflects the wave of the future in marketing/PR/advertising. Create brand evangelists and let them do the hard work for you.

  26. You are ALWAYS marketing in this day and age – like it or not, people are out there watching, monitoring, and passing judgement on you, your company, and your overall brand image. There's my first takeaway.

    And, to your point, being humble can and DOES go a long, long way. We resonate closely with companies and brands who aren't just interested in making money, but in doing actual “good” for us and the world around us. Every company starts out from nothing, and they're humble for every early accomplishment, but as you said, over time it's easy to get caught up in the success, caught up in the money, and starting to think that you “deserve” where you are. Always remember that you wouldn't be where you are with the people – friends, colleagues, clients and customers who helped pave the way for you. Thanks for the comment buddy!

  27. Hmm..I see what you're saying but I don't think an entirely passive approach is the way to go. You still have to be out there and proactive – you just have to go about it in a different way. “Waiting in the weeds” is part of it, stepping back, listening to conversation, genuinely HEARING what your customers/potential customers are saying, and then knowing when to step in and start a conversation and work on a relationship. Creating a brand evangelist is heavily based on the actual buying/service experience, but your positive (proactive) customer service approach can really go a long way – and it takes something VERY small to make a BIG difference. ONE personal email, one @ reply or DM on Twitter can speak volumes and lead to someone singing your praises and screaming from the rooftops how awesome your company is to everyone in their social circle.

  28. Hi Jen – first – the presentation was awesome, we had an incredible conversation and some great follow up conversations with attendees. Value is where it's at, and it comes in many different forms. However, everyone is focusing on providing value, YOU have to focus on providing a little something, that one EXTRA “something”. Above and Beyond +1 – whatever that means to you and your brand. More and more people are catching on and are one step ahead of the game, now more than ever you need to be two steps ahead to REALLY stand out and shine.

    Thanks for the comment! I have several follow up posts in the works that were inspired from our conversation. Stay tuned.

  29. Talking to a 'real live person' was one of the main takeaways we left the attendees with after our Panel discussion – it may involve hiring a few extra people to make sure there's someone on the other end of the phone – but I've NEVER had a positive experience worth talking about when I've been stuck on hold for 45 minutes trying to get ahold of a human being.

    You mentioned price being the biggest factors in your buying decision. Do you think that price truly is your biggest motivator – or do you lean more toward quality, even if it means paying somewhat of a premium to get it? I think we're gradually seeing the market go in that direction, which is FASCINATING given the economic climate we live in. In some ways we are still very much “budget” shoppers – especially when it comes to essentials, but for bigger buying decisions, quality is paramount for me – whereas the “how much does it cost” question comes later…

    If you can provide and prove the quality and value, we'll pay for it…gladly. Plain and simple. Agree?

  30. I love what you're saying about “Brand Champions” – this is something we preached to the attendees of the panel – that targeting influence's and turning them into brand evangelists, people who will sing your praises through the ups and downs of your company, that's where the future of marketing is headed. We're influences 1000x more by the people we trust and call “friends” than we are by brands themselves. Old school sales are out the window – it's about planting seeds from multiple angles and having those seeds grow into thriving trusted resources that people will listen to and believe in. Word :)

  31. Exactly – if there's no connection we don't give it a second thought, honestly. We connect with brands and companies who take the time to connect – plain and simple. If you want to turn me into a loyal customer, give me a reason to, and in this day and age, it involves more than just a good product (a huge part obviously) but there's a lot to be said even for a product that may not be 5 stars, but has excellent customer service to back it up. You don't need to be the price competitor – you need to be the leader in service and providing additional value to the purchase.

    And thanks man – I had an amazing time down in San Antonio. Really hoping I can get more involved with the speaking circuit. In time, in time…

  32. Everettt you are so spot on in so many ways here. We're seeing, across the board, in every facet of life, a “less is more” attitude. With my design work – 9/10 my client want's less – clearer calls to action, simple, white space, splash of color. It used to be all glittery backgrounds and midi music playing when you clicked on a site. The “in your face” approach of marketing/PR/advertising is out the window for the most off because today, that stuff is a complete turn off to us.

    We're much smarter buyers than we used to be, and we're not concerned with “buying more” – instead – we focus on buying QUALITY. AND, as you said, our buying decisions are heavily impacted by the people we trust, friends and connections both on and offline. Like you, when it comes to a book purchase, I almost never buy something unless it's been recommended by someone else. That market is huge for word of mouth, which is why you see so many authors doing “blog tours” offering free copies of their book to anyone who'll write about it.

    Cheers buddy – you and I really need to sit down and chat. Skype soon?