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The Do’s and Don’ts of Branding to Millennials

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branding to millennials

Branding is a fragment of business wherein companies endorse their products or services to their target market through different marketing efforts. Branding poses many challenges among companies but perhaps the toughest of these today is branding to millennials.

Millennials are people born between the years 1982 and 2002. Today, this generation embodies 24% of the American population. Millennials are born and raised in an era plagued by economic disorder and consumerism. It’s a tough time to earn a living and sustain one’s preferred lifestyle, as many career men and women of this generation are starting to realize.

Being thrown into these challenging times has made millennials into a special group of people. According to a Nielsen report, these men and women are savvy shoppers of necessity. This means that although they enjoy shopping, the millennial generation only take their business to brands they trust.

This is evidenced by their research skill prior to shopping. The same report by Nielsen indicated that 42% of millennials comb through at least four different sources before making a purchase. A third of this group of people only go shopping on sales or when they’re in a possession of coupons or promotional codes. The study further states that 40% of the group save money by buying second-hand items.

All these findings suggest that millennials are a tough crowd to market to and yet, this group has challenged and captivated marketers and business owners alike.

Because they comprise a significant portion of the population, earning the patronage and trust of these men and women is worth it. In fact, this is what business owners who want to leave a lasting impression in their industry should aim to do.

It may be challenging to please a fussy and calculating crowd, but it can be done. You can simplify this by learning the do’s and don’ts of branding to millennials.

The DO’s:
  • Invest on mobile. Whether it is through improving the mobile experience of consumers or bringing more aspects of your business into the mobile platform, your company’s mobile site and functionality should be at its finest.
  • Optimize your social media presence. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest are more than just social channels for millennials. These networks are also search engines for them and whatever information they can dig up is a contributing factor in their purchase decision. Make sure your search results will lean in your favor.
  • Bring your brand to them without smothering them with ads and promises. Let them get to know your brand through an experience they enjoy such as concerts you can sponsor or video blogging.
  • Engage in open communication. These young men and women, like any other consumer, appreciate being heard and taken care of. Responding to messages, listening to suggestions, and acknowledging commendations build a good business-consumer relationship.

“My clients post images of themselves, tagging my business, and it is the best digital format of word-of-mouth marketing possible.” – Ryan Horne

The DON’TS:
  • Some people seem to find it funny to stereotype millennials as a self-absorbed, lazy bunch. This is rather unfortunate because this generation is a large part of the workforce. In fact, a study shows that more than 80% of millennials from 27 years old and up are employed. Half of them are married or have a family of their own. The ones who have not moved out of their homes chose this living condition to save up for other priorities such as travel and other life-enriching activities. The takeaway: don’t be condescending towards millennials.
  • There are marketers and company owners who try hard to throw in phrases and expressions into their content that they think will connect them to millennials. You shouldn’t. Or at least, not without knowing the proper use of such phrases. Otherwise, you will just end up sounding phony.
  • Don’t neglect taking care of existing customers. For millennials, a recommendation from a friend or someone they know is more preferable than giant billboards or a paid TV ad. Remember that you are advertising to a group of people who almost unthinkingly reach out for their phones during commercials or click the exit button on online ads. More than just your efforts to reel in new customers, make sure to keep the current ones happy because your best shot at advertising is through word of mouth.

“Young people need to be asked what matters, not be told what matters.” – Jeff Martin

Once you get to know what makes millennials tick and what they value and aim for, branding evolves from being a business necessity to a sincere desire to reach out and help people with what you can offer. Learning these do’s and don’ts is the first step towards progress.

How is your brand appealing to the millennials? Leave your thoughts below!

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Catherine Vanvonno, the author, is the President and Executive Director of 20Four7VA, a global Virtual Assistant (VA) Service Provider. She holds a doctorate degree in Applied Statistics, Research Design and Program Evaluation from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and has over 10 years experience in facilitating evidence-based strategic planning, product development, brand management, legislative communications, and medical policy. She is married and has four children. You can connect with her on Twitter.

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