Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Marketing to Millennials: Value, Shared Experiences, Sustainability

One-third of the world's population can be classified as the Millennial generation (roughly, those born after 1980), according to recent research by Viacom. Not surprisingly, the economy stands out as an important factor affecting their use of credit cards and buying decisions in general. This segment has a unique attitude and perspective on the world, shaped by the economic turmoil of recent years plus their upbringing, their cultural backgrounds, and their life experiences.

As a result, marketers are targeting the Millennial generation with distinctive, value-rich products for their preferences, using quirky, nonconformist communications that avoid the hard sell (unless tinged with irony, of course). Even the shopping experience itself is different for this generation, often mobile or digital, often shared, and heavy on the search for local and/or unique "personality" products to express personal values.

Take the Chevy Spark, for instance, a sub-compact car that comes in eye-catching colors/designs (see above) and is also available with an electric motor. The car is affordable, the design grabs the eye, the size is just right for city driving and parking, and the gas efficiency makes sense for a Millennial buyer making a first or second new car purchase. This is not your grandpa's car--it's clearly a "now" model designed for tastes and preferences of the target market.

Then there's the market for travel services, such as airline tickets, lodgings, and tourism. Research presented at a travel industry meeting  shows that Millennials like to travel with friends and expect value for the money (not necessary budget, but value for the money). Unlike traditional "group tours," the goal is to have a shared experience, and sustainability is a major factor in many travel decisions made by this cohort.

Although some experts suggest that Millennials are anything but brand-loyal, remember that they're very open to trying new brands and products (no-brands included!) and like to share the results with friends. Any brand or product that makes the grade has a good chance of being in the consideration set next time around.

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