18th December 2018 by Mark Jones

Were you born between 1980 and 2000? Our blog today explores the characteristics of a ‘Millennial’ and asks are we getting our message across to you?

Businesses, Retailers, Marketeers take note, are we getting our marketing right? As far as The Whalley Wine Shop is concerned, this year, in an effort to show our customers our best wines and our best prices, we have printed and distributed 60,000 brochures and placed full page adverts in 3 different publications. But is this the right thing to do? In a fascinating piece by John Linney of ReachRevenue he argues that for anyone born after 1980, these methods are now outdated. Here we look at what he claims the ‘Millennial’ generation really want.

If you were born between 1980 and 2000, it means you are aged between 18 and 38, and this makes you a very important audience for The Whalley Wine Shop. If we can get it right for you, hopefully you will go on to be customers of ours for some time to come.

Mr Linney argues, in general, if you are in this age group, you will have grown up in a place largely free from war (aside from those who fought in the Middle-East) and extreme poverty, the very idea of rationing being consigned to the history books. But in trying to pinpoint the characteristics of a Millennial, the broad age range can cause something of a headache for marketers. Due to rapid changes in technology and societal norms, the characteristics of a 36 year old and a 21 year old are very different. Consider this….

Born in 1982?
Take a 36 year old born in 1982 who turned 18 in 2000. High-speed broadband had only just been rolled out, most people had a mobile phone but could only text, Facebook was merely a glint in Mark Zuckerberg’s imagination, and September 11, the event which arguably changed the world to a greater extent than any other since the Second World War, was still in its sinister planning stages.

Born in 1997?
But take someone born in 1997. Today, they are 21 years old. Their parents had been the first ‘latchkey’ kids so embraced the concepts of helicopter parenting and protecting their child’s self-esteem. They got medals just for participating, and as children, were ferried from activity to activity; As teenagers, social media was already well-established, the idea of having to read a book to find out a fact rather than Google is inconceivable, and people only call their phone, rather than message, in dire emergencies, unless its your mother. The world is one of almost full-employment, but less disposable income. Job flexibility is far better, but most live at home for much longer and are less likely to own their own property than their parents’ generation. Convenience food and items are everywhere, but they are increasingly conscious of long-term illnesses caused by processed foods and environmental havoc wreaked by plastic and global warming.

So, when we are trying to communicate with this group, what can businesses and retailers surmise from this.

1. Millennials are a cynical bunch, so babbling on about how great our products and services are will fall on deaf (and headphone covered) ears. Traditional ‘push advertising’ methods, such as TV, radio, and magazine, are unlikely to inspire any brand loyalty.

2.. Content marketing and social media marketing are the secrets to building trust and loyalty, But where they often fall down is they fail to engage the reader/viewer. It is engagement which builds trust. So don’t ignore comments and have the courage to face criticism head-on via social media accounts.

3. Millennials want authenticity and transparency. In addition, they expect every interaction with a brand to deliver value. Only then will they spend their cash.

4. Millennials expect personalisation. Research in 2016 revealed that 62% of Millennials tend to only ever buy from preferred brands. While money-saving offers are welcome the survey found that personalisation was most important for millennials and they expect brands to customise offers to suit their needs and will prefer to buy from brands who do this over those that don’t.

5. Millennials need to see that we care, and have an overwhelming distrust of big corporations who are perceived not to care.

6. For Millennials, the wage packet is important and it must be fair, but it’s no longer the sole driver. The emphasis for this generation has switched from pound notes to purpose. No longer interested in the Ryanair customer service model (here’s your cheap ticket, now sod off), they demand an experience. Millennials are prepared to pay a small premium for a genuine shopping experience, and some Independent Retailers and Artisans are cottoning on to this.

7. Millennials will support companies that show you care about the environment and are culturally inclusive. Ethical purchasing is important to Millennials and be warned, they will have nothing on the next generation where 5-year-olds are already making choices about using items like plastic straws. Companies must genuinely support causes and promote what you do to help others.

In summary, what do Millennials want? Research shows they want to buy from transparent, ethical stores which engage with them on a personal level. They have a deep Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), and want a life of purpose and experience rather than things. Understanding these drives and adapting your marketing strategy accordingly will help win customers and keep customers in the future.

Views expressed here are those of Mark Jones, FCIM, founder of Workhouse Marketing based on an article by John Linney of Reach Revenue.