by Charu Kohli

Today, many strategies are being implemented to target millennials. This article about how high-end jewelers are trying new products and approaches to attract millennial customers provides some great insight on innovative tactics being used these days. From organizing pop-up stores, to designing jewelry for everyday use and organizing interactive online experiences, these jewelers are leaving no stone unturned! Something that was unheard of a few years back!

Another success story for targeting millennials is the Chase Sapphire card , which became a runaway hit the moment it was launched. Chase did not rely on any advertising or paid marketing tactics to promote the card. In fact, it was word-of-mouth that contributed to its success.

For communicators, these two divergent solutions can provide a unique learning opportunity. Today, where reality is mostly virtual and expectations are unrealistic, how can we ensure that our efforts catch the attention of this elusive millennial group?

Below are 6 characteristics of the millennial consumer. While these observations are open to discussion, the tactics and suggestions below capture my view on how to target this market.

What’s in it for me?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs does not apply to millennials at all – they want it all! This does not mean they are selfish, it just implies that their motivations go beyond the basic. Millennials want to be associated with causes that are bigger than themselves. They are willing to engage with your brand if the brand’s values coincide with their passions and their need to give back. Build and share content around your brand’s purpose or better yet, build the brand’s philanthropic strategy around the values of millennials. Always attempt to answer the WIFIM (What’s In It For Me) question in a way that appeals to your target market’s social consciousness.

The love for user-generated content (UGC)

It’s no secret that millennials today are less likely to respond to traditional media. They trust peer reviews more than professional reviews, base their buying decisions on blogs not ads, and rely on their social networks. More and more millennials prefer to respond to real people featured in brand communication rather than celebrities. Videos of common people unboxing their phones or creating restaurant-style dishes from the comfort of their own homes are just a few examples of content that is increasingly resonating with the millennial audience. Try to create opportunities that give people a chance to share their life with your brand on social media.

Share views, not just news

Charismatic leaders or brands that tend to break the status quo and provide a vision for the future act as a magnet to attract the mindshare of millennials. Millennials consume information from different sources and are likely to trust companies that are thought leaders and not just product pushers. They appreciate a point of view, something that makes them put on their thinking caps. In this era of nano attention spans, content that stands out and captures attention quickly has more potential to engage their networks. Authentic thought leadership helps keep the lines of communication open.

Imperfection is the new perfection

This paper on millennial decision-making drivers and their attachment to brands is another great resource. While there’s an ongoing debate on whether they are brand averse or brand loyal, one theory that’s increasingly being proven correct is that millennials connect with brands, not logos. They connect with brands that appear humane, talk about their values, and brands that admit to their failures. Communications that is more honest than aspirational and one that’s rooted in learning from mishaps goes down well with the millennial audience.

Meet them where they are

One cannot put all millennials into a generic category. When it comes to this audience, individuality is the key. Media consumption habits of millennials differ according to their demographics, motivations, influencer groups etc. Your communications goal might be to increase your brand’s Facebook or Instagram following, however, a deep dive may reveal that your target audience prefers Buzzfeed or Yelp. To reach them most effectively, look beyond the obvious and always personalize!

Embrace mixed reality to engage

Millennials are digital natives and adapt to new technologies much faster than the previous generations. Videos are becoming extremely popular, and interactive and immersive online experiences are slowly emerging as strong communication tools. Mixed or virtual reality helps consumers interact with a brand longer and demystifies complex concepts. While this presents a lot of opportunities, it poses various challenges too. Communicators will need to constantly innovate to embrace this phenomenon, which has the potential to increase brand engagement and loyalty significantly in the times to come.

While getting that coveted millennial nod is not easy, it’s safe to say that millennials, Gen Z, and subsequent generations will want to build the brand with you, and not merely be bystanders!