What Millennials want from brands

Millennials love to shop, but many brands still struggle to engage this demographic. 

Fun fact: more than half the global population was born after 1980, and by 2019 Millennials are predicted to hit the 17 million mark in the UK (Inkling 2016).

Amazon is 22 years-old meaning Millennials are the first generation to grow-up with online shopping. Young consumers are digital natives who have always used the internet to discover, buy and recommend goods and services.

Pete Wilson, Head of Planning at Iris Worldwide, discussed Millennials’ consumer habits at the company’s Selling to the Selfie Generation event in September. He claimed that Millennials are influenced by social media, making them more inclined to herd behavior. We shared a similar view in an opinion piece for The Guardian. Although Millennials’ complete embrace of social media created the ‘personal brand’, their interactions conform to the established boundaries of the digital platform being used.

Pinterest is a perfect example of how Millennials are influenced by social media to make purchases. Carin Lee, Partner Manager at Pinterest, spoke at the same event about how the content sharing service enables users to discover brands based on their passions and lifestyles. More than two billion searches are performed monthly and businesses create 75% of the content. The UK has 10 million unique visitors of which 40% are millennials, 70% are female and 80% use mobile devices. Brands can use Pinterest to demonstrate that they are relevant to Millennials.

However, brands must go beyond the audiovisual limitations of digital technology to improve Millennial engagement. Pete Wilson also discussed how Millennials prefer to purchase something they have already tested, and recommended giving consumers a collective experience with a personal touch like the IKEA Dining Club. In September, the Swedish retailer opened a fully immersive dining experience in Shoreditch for two weeks, where the diners ran the restaurant. Participants could produce free meals, with the support of up to 20 friends and professional chefs, to create a unique dining experience. The DIY experience expressed the brand’s ethos, and showcased its kitchenware range in context, engaging consumers in a more meaningful way than traditional content marketing.

The importance of experiences to Millennials cannot be overstated. Ken Hughes – a respected thought leader on young consumers – said at an event we hosted earlier this year that the world is shifting to an ‘experience economy’, where Millennials are defined by their experiences rather than belongings. Belongings are important but only in their capacity to help create an amazing experience.

Experiences give brands the opportunity to demonstrate their value to Millennials.

Our recent experiential campaign for The Co-op is a perfect example of how brands can utilise experiential marketing to connect with the younger audience. In May this year the brand dusted off a logo from 1968 and restructured the business to reward its customers in a new way. To support their new above the line campaign celebrating the unpredictability of summer, we created an experience to promote unpredictability and encourage the nation to try something new.

To invigorate office lunches and feed festival-goers, we brought the Co-op’s great tasting dishes to major UK city centres, festivals and cultural events. To promote social interaction, Co-op asked their Facebook fans to help curate the dishes by posting their secret ingredient online, with a mystery dish chosen and served each week.

At the end of each day we even handed out free recipe boxes encouraging commuters to try the dishes at home; allowing their dinner to be unpredictable too.

The result: 1 million delicious samples and millions engaged socially.

A personalised experience changes the power dynamic between the brand and consumer. In content marketing the consumer is told why the brand is good, while in experiential marketing they can discover this themselves. Millennials in particular want to drive, not hear about the car specifications, so brands need to give them some control. They want to buy from brands that will improve their experiences; therefore brands must use experiences to demonstrate their value and appear relevant.

In return, Millennials can become loyal customers and active brand advocates.

Madison Byrne

Marketing Manager