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)