Millennials.

If you’re in marketing, design, tech, or really, any industry that is fighting for wallet share, Millennials, and their influencing power, are likely top-of-mind.

Millennials, as we’ve reported before, have eclipsed Baby Boomers as the largest age group demographic in the U.S. While their spending power has yet to catch up to Gen X and Baby Boomers, the sheer force of impact they are having in technology, communications, and setting trends, cannot go ignored.

Therefore, before you create your next campaign, release your new product, or determine how best to modify your company’s mission as you look forward, make sure you take into account the Millennial mindset. When it comes to Millennials, the more you know, the better you’ll be able to capture the next economic powerhouse, trendsetters, and cohort shaping cultural shifts.

Here at InterQ Research, we spend a lot of time talking to Millennials, tracking their behavior with ethnographic studies, and looking at quantitative data that measures their impact. Below we’ve compiled a short summary of some must-know facts that we’ve gleaned after hundreds of hours of conversations and data analysis.

Millennial trend #1: “Corporate” is a bad word

When you tell your brand’s narrative, if your story is all about the legacy behind your company’s long-tenure (if this is the case), your complex corporate oversight and structure, and your deep reach and breadth — while impressive — is actually not likely to impress Millennials. Likely, it will turn them off.

Millennials have spent their formative years directly affected by the Great Recession. Their parents’ situation, their own job struggles, and their financial outlook, have been largely colored by an economic event that was done by large corporations. For many Millennials, “corporate” is synonymous with greed, overstepping, and harm. While the Gen X and Baby Boomers put more trust in corporations, Millennials are likely to see “corporate” as stodgy, stuck, and not innovative. All of your promises of stability and a long-term future are not going to be the siren song to these younger ears.

As you think about your products, branding, and corporate story, keep this in mind. Many corporations are exploring re-branding entirely and creating subsidiaries that distance themselves from the corporate parent so that they can woo the attention of Millennials.

Millennial trend #2: Have a cause

Even though Millennials may not follow through with their convictions, i.e., spending all their free time volunteering, or only purchasing sustainable products, it’s the idea behind a cause that matters to them. They’re attracted to companies that show transparency, put values above profits, and invest in their people. Case in point? In one study we did with college students, Patagonia was mentioned almost unanimously as the students’ favorite brand because the company has a cause that goes beyond just selling clothing and gear.

Millennial trend #3: Social media isn’t the only way to reach them

When most people think of Millennials, people think “social media.” And yes, while social media is essential to any influencer and marketing campaign aimed at Millennials, it’s not the only way to capture share-of-time and spend. Perhaps because social media is so ubiquitous in their lives, Millennials get weary of the over-marketing that occurs on social media. In recent discussions we had with Millennials, they shared that the best way to capture their attention is through grassroots outreach, the arts, and events that focus on community. Even though Millennials receive plenty of “connection” through social media, what many expressed that they crave is actual “community.”

Millennial trend #4: Go to where they are

Finally, when thinking about products, marketing, and your brand’s story, keep in mind that, in an ideal world, Millennials want to be un-planted and free to work, play, and socialize on their time, outside the confines of traditional work schedules, offices, and rules. Millennials trust themselves to get their work done and they feel they are more innovative than older superiors. In an ideal world, they don’t want to go to an office every day, and they want the flexibility to work at their time, at their pace. When you’re seeking to reach them, realize that co-working spaces, coffee shops, and their homes are just as likely to be their work venues as a traditional office setting. Furthermore, creating “networking” opportunities needs to move beyond traditional structures that feel too corporate or forced. For a Millennial, networking can be in the form of volunteering with a group, a food truck event, or a whiskey tasting at a trendy bar. Remember – anything plastered too “corporate” is not likely to capture their attention or time, so focus instead on events that feel community-based and break tradition.

How is your brand going to move forward with Millennials?

Companies and organizations are realizing that they may not exist in the next 20 years if they fail to capture Millennials’ attention and loyalty now. The older generations that have supported and kept legacy brands alive will be out of the picture in the next few decades, leaving Millennials to determine share-of-spend. As your company explores how to capture Millennials’ attention, make sure you put market research as a must-do item; without a full understanding of how your brand should adapt to Millennials’ tastes, your brand may quickly lose its relevance.


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