Let's face it, millennials are taking over the customer profile in the retail world. Those born between 1980-2000 have become the biggest generation in the US history, with 92 million people representing the group, according to official census data. For retailers, targeting millennials is like sitting on a goldmine, considering that the group is also the most brand loyal. With this in mind, though, branding strategy is not becoming easier.
Today, competition between brands is nothing but intense. Unlike past days, having a pretty logo and offering a loyalty card no longer means a customer will come back, especially a millennial. Only 20 years ago, marketing campaigns were rather limited due to the infancy of digital technology. Solutions that appeared with the rise of it (e-commerce, social media platforms, analytics platforms) were expected to ease and accelerate relationships with the customer, but as marketing campaigns have evolved to the more sophisticated digitally-driven form, so has the customer behavior.
Pushing a product through email or social media has seen marketers achieving great results, but as millennials' attention spans are much shorter than those of baby boomers, aside from just approaching them though the digital world, there must be another factor to make them genuinely want to find out more about the product. To achieve this, any type of content or tool that a marketer uses for communication must have a personal touch. Research conducted by American Express has found that 48% of millennials are expecting personalized approach in their interactions with businesses.
Personalization drives loyalty, so effective loyalty programs are critical, where the good ones are always able to recognize customers' wants and needs. Before narrowing the strategy to consumers' personal preferences and interests, a company needs to find out about them. Whether it's a newsletter, offer email, or a direct communication - personal greetings are crucial to start with.
Secondly, with millennials, gone are the days when people went shopping to actually purchase something. Generation Y like learning about the product, associated trends, and the benefits of it - before they open their wallet. Thus, it's not enough to only have a product and offer on hand - the brand has to have a story around it and encourage potential customers to participate in it. From this, retailers would be able to take a fresh look at the definition of loyalty, where the customer engagement drives great results.
Millennials are, as a group, social media experts, and it's worth harnessing these skills for a brand's good. As much as they like expressing their opinions, they also like being recognized by having a big profile of followers and online popularity. The American Express research also found that 59% of millennials are likely to share details of their recent purchases and experience on social media channels. So whether it's sharing a new bag on Snapchat or creating a tutorial about new makeup products, customers can essentially do all the marketing for marketers. To increase the popularity of the product, it is particularly useful to create relevant hashtags and ask customers to share their insights. For even faster results, it's worth identifying and contacting 'high' social media profiles about collaboration opportunities, as well as giving away products for product reviews. This approach flips the traditional marketer-customer relationship, putting the customer in the role of marketer.