3 marketing myths that make millennials hate your brand

The holy grail of marketing to millennials has been debunked! Not that you should be surprised – millennials love to break (bend, change, or influence) the rules. Slapping a few digital ads on social media and running deep discounts to hook and book today’s largest emerging consumer demographic is no longer enough. To create a successful millennial marketing campaign that will engage and grow this audience, it’s important to understand what they value and how they like to interact with brands. On the flip side, it’s equally – if not more – important to understand what doesn’t work for this group. As the Baby Boomers retire and Generation X continues to take a backseat to the very visible, loud and proud “x, y” generation, unpacking the marketing psychology that drives millennials will become increasingly important. We’ve debunked three of the most common millennial myths that plague brands and drive this critical demographic away.

Marketing to millennials myth 1: They are cheap and narcissistic

With the advent of “cheap chic” fashion trends, thanks in large part to popular discount brands like Target and H&M, it’s not surprising that the general population believes millennials are overly consumed with the appearance of wealth and trendiness (minus the price tag). A solid marketing agency often translates this into either discounts and rebates, or campaigns that imitate luxury brands while visibility toting their lower prices. Although many millennials struggled to find post-graduate employment after the recession in 2008, they are bouncing back with the economy and finding themselves with a sudden influx of disposable income thanks to booming startups, fast-paced tech agencies, and non-traditional employment opportunities. Almost 50% of millennials are more willing to buy a product if it supports a good cause. The critical emphasis on this research is that millennials are not only more willing to buy a product that contributes to a greater cause in some way, but to actually choose it over more expensive alternatives that don’t support similar initiatives. This type of research suggests that millennials are neither cheap nor narcissistic, but in fact are more than willing to pay for the right product and the right brand.

Take Love Your Melon, for example. They are able to charge a premium cost for a simple product because they speak to millennial ideals, not their vanity or bank accounts. Love Your Melon is an apparel brand dedicated to giving a hat to every child battling cancer in America as well as supporting nonprofit organizations that lead the fight against pediatric cancer. Pretty inspiring, right? Love Your Melon has built their business on millennials and their mission is the reason why they’ve been so successful at it. Maybe it’s time to consider ditching the promotion in favor for a buy one, give one (to a community in need) campaign.

Marketing to millennials myth 2: The best way to reach them is social media

Marketing to millennials has long hinged on social media campaigns, pop up or in-app advertising, and digital outreach. However, this hyper-connected generation finds great satisfaction in discovering the world when they are unplugged and engaging with it. This is an untapped territory for brands looking to break through the clutter. 48% of millennials say they would (and could) happily function without their smartphone or digital devices according to Retailing Today. While many millennial myths want you to believe that this generation can’t (and won’t) interact with a brand unless it’s bombarding them online, many millennials discover brands at the top of the funnel when they’re unplugged, exploring, and experiencing. This type of organic discovery leads to deeper brand loyalty and longer lifetime value. We aren’t suggesting getting rid of your digital marketing campaigns, we’re just simply advocating that you add in a few guerrilla or grassroots tactics that reach this audience in the real-world environment they so crave in today’s hyper-digital world. Think: Coca-Cola’s happiness phone booths or Redbull’s partnership with extreme sporting events.

Marketing to millennials myth 3: They can be somewhat transactional

One of the most deadly millennial myths results from the culmination of the previous two myths. Marketing to millennials should, first and foremost, hinge on expressing your brand’s value proposition and ideals. Contrary to popular belief, millennials are not transactional shoppers. According to Medallion Research, millennials are not nearly as concerned with money and status as they are with relationships and experiences. This dovetails from the idea that millennials are not cheap or narcissistic. They don’t care about the product, they care about the brand and lifestyle it’s associated with. When selling consumer packaged goods or services, this may seem difficult to surmount, but when you step back and look at the success of Apple’s “Think Differently” campaign, it becomes clear that products – whatever they may be – are simply an expression of this generation’s values. So make sure your brand values speak loud and clear. As was the case with Apple, you may need to expressly spell this out for the new generation. But, the results will be well worth the effort.

Simple, right? Marketing to millennials really comes down to two things: Say something about your brand and make sure it’s authentic they’ll sort out the rest.

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