Strategies for Connecting with This Audience
In Part 1 of this blog post, we discussed why it’s time to start marketing home improvement products to millennials. This post is dedicated to exploring how we can effectively reach this important audience with media, messaging and merchandising strategies that build relationships and, ultimately, drive sales.
There are a lot of differences between the millennials and their over-35 counterparts, but none as big as their media usage habits. Millennials still consume traditional media such as print and broadcast, but at a much lower level than older generations.
With millennials, it’s all about choices. They have grown up with so many options at their disposal, that they effortlessly drift from one medium to another, often mixing one with another without skipping a beat. For example, they might be watching a favorite television show while checking their Facebook account on a laptop while texting. This comes natural to them. They are masters of the new media age.
The millennial generation takes media consumption to an all-time high.
- Millennials spend 18 hours a day consuming media
- 71% engage in social media daily at an average of 5.4 hours/day
- Over 65% embrace brands on social media to get special treatment/access
To maximize our penetration of this audience, we must find the right balance among paid media, owned media and earned media. A converged media strategy is when all aspects of this three-pronged approach work in harmony with each other to share the same messages using the same voice.
Earned Media, when customers themselves become the channel, is perhaps the most vital factor in the converged media equation. That’s because they consider their social networks more trustworthy than any form of “expert advisors,” which usually come in the form of paid (advertising) or Owned Media (brand-controlled channels).
Lesson learned is that an active social media strategy that connects with key influencers and encourages discussion and positive reviews about your brand will have more of a dramatic long-term impact on your brand. Stimulating positive word-of-mouth takes time, however, and places much of the control with customers and social networks.
Consider use of social media platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and the specialty site Houzz, which make it easy for millennials to collect ideas regarding home improvement and decorating.
Paid Media, on the other hand, gives you more immediacy and control. Here are some key media usage findings that may provide a framework for building an effective millennial media strategy:
- As with other demographic groups, online search is millennials’ top online activity. With 71% of millennials citing Google as their No. 1 destination for content searches, Google AdWords and other forms of SEM provide a sensible foundation for any media plan looking to generate site traffic and build visibility.
- Millennials’ use of mobile devices is skyrocketing. Because more than 60% prefer mobile over desktop and 1 in 5 use it exclusively for online access, mobile advertising should also play a central role in your media plan.
- When compared to other demographics, millennials show higher preference for brand engagement using social media, online video, mobile apps, and texting/SMS channels. They’re also surprisingly receptive to email and TV. Print media and direct mail are the least effective media for reaching this audience.
Despite their heavy digital media consumption, millennials still shop in real brick and mortar retail locations. And that’s not going to change. 90% of all CPG goods are still purchased in a store.
Transforming the digital experience from a potential distraction into an engaging in-store shopping experience will be key to winning the millennial consumer. Here are some facts to consider:
- Millennials shop with their mobile devices to gather information, monitor product reviews, watch demo videos, compare prices.
- 43% of millennials – compared with 25% of boomers – reported that they search for information online while in stores. [Source: Boston Consulting Group, The Reciprocity Principle, 2013]
- More than 75% of millennials have their mobile devices glued to their palms while in store as a trusted personal shopping assistant. [Millennials consider mobile the must-have shopping companion,” Ethelbert Williams, June 2012.]
- 43% of millennials who reported that they check for coupons or promotions from their smartphones while they are in a store represent a dramatic increase form the 24% reported one year earlier. [Source: Boston Consulting Group, The Reciprocity Principle, 2013]
As far as packaging and POP goes, millennial consumers do not favor “top down” strategies (i.e., the brand taking a commanding position on the package). They prefer an understated, smart package that balances the product features with the brand. A soft sell.
Don’t scream at them. Don’t insult them. They know your brand is there. Ultimately, millennials like to feel like they are in control.
Brand is important to millennials, but only to a point. If a brand connects with them on a personal level and asks for their input – a “collaboration” if you will – they will take ownership in your brand and be highly loyal. If you don’t take the time to build a trusting relationship, however, they are smart shoppers and will make rational value-based decisions, taking little stock in your brand identity.
Studies show that the technology a brand uses is perhaps even more important than the brand itself. It is truly a case when the medium becomes the message. It’s no secret: they like high-tech gadgetry and digital platforms, especially as they relate to simplifying and enhancing their lifestyles.
Millennials are drawn to brands that seamlessly integrate their messaging into their advanced media consumption lifestyles. Examples of this include:
- Attractive, easily navigable websites that are responsively designed for the PC, tablet and smartphone.
- User-friendly apps that integrate loyalty programs, couponing and online ordering,
- An intelligent social media experience that encourages customer interaction.
Apps are especially important to millennials for maximizing their mobile experiences. Researchers found that 57% of millennials prefer an app experience to a mobile web browser experience. The app store was the top technology-driven path for millennials to explore a new brand, with 55% of respondents indicating they use the app store for that purpose.
Because millennials grew up in a highly sophisticated media environment, they are highly discerning consumers who understand the role of commercial messages. As a result, they are tricky to sell to.
To deflect their marketing-savvy skepticism, they must be approached on their own terms with honest, unvarnished messaging seasoned with an air of humility.
If you effectively engage millennials, they will not only be faithful to your brand, but they will share your content if it is presented in a helpful, non-threatening (not overly promotional), snackable format that can easily be passed on to their friends.
Capturing their attention and earning their trust requires sensitivity to their sophisticated media filters and the patience to cultivate a two-way conversation that allows them to feel involved and take ownership in your brand.
For assistance in developing your millennial marketing strategies, contact Heinzeroth today to arrange for a free consultation.