Three things you need to know when you’re targeting millennials

The Millennial generation has been called a lot of unkind things by older generations. One of the more infuriating ones is an insistence that they are childish. But the Millennials aren’t children anymore. In fact, the oldest ones in the generation are pushing near 40 years of age. They’ve held jobs for decades.

Granted, their buying power might not be as strong as earlier generations and they are putting off major purchases until later in life. But they are still the largest marketing target out there, even bigger than the Boomers and Generation X. Nearly a third of the US population, 92 million, fall into the Millennial generation, which is defined as the years between 1980 and 2000.

People in this generation are in their prime purchasing years. But what sets their buying patterns apart from earlier generations? Here are three things to bear in mind when you’re targeting Millennials:

1. They’re hard to fool 

Millennials came up in the age of the Internet. They are quite comfortable with it and they are not afraid to use it to confirm a claim made by a marketer. Standard persuasion tactics used in marketing that can’t be backed up by facts will fall flat.

On the other hand, their reliance on information sources to make decisions puts brands in a prime position to deliver. With Millennials, pain points aren’t necessarily emotional. They’re informational. This is a key reason why content marketing is such a powerful tool with this demographic. It feeds on that need to know. If anything, the generational pain point of Millennials is uncertain information. Give them (accurate!) information and allow others to confirm it and you’re golden.

2. They prefer small information chunks

Information processing also changed radically for the Millennial generation, especially when broadband became widespread. In the past there may have been only one source of information about something; the Internet enables Millennials to cast their nets much wider. If they can’t find information quickly on one site they will jump to another.

This is why images and video are so potent with Millennials. These methods pack far more information than text. That’s not to say that text doesn’t work, but the language must be much more like Strunk & White than Ron Popeil. That is, it needs to be concise and information-dense.

3. They want to be taken seriously

Millennials are, quite frankly, sick of being blamed for killing industries. Blaming a generation for killing a business model just shifts responsibility away from things like the 2008 financial crisis and changing shopping patterns thanks to the Internet. Millennials are making rational responses to the reality of current economics. As we mentioned, they’re hard to fool.

Companies that are willing to drop all their preconceived notions of how to approach this demographic and actually listen to what their problems and needs are will be able to capitalize. They don’t fit neatly into the old 25-40 age bracket assumptions. When you’re targeting Millennials, you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes. Or better yet, hire a Millennial marketer who could really use a job right about now.

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