Six insights  to consider when appealing to shoppers born from 1981 to 1996

Every generation is shaped by shared experiences, and millennials (defined by the Pew Research Center as those who are ages 22-37 in 2018) are no different in that regard. But what makes these men and women unique?

Defining factors: History, technology and the economy

As they grew up, this cohort witnessed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the subsequent Global War on Terror and America’s Great Recession.

While other generations also experienced significant events, millennials are different because they came of age in an era of unprecedented technology with access to unlimited information.

Millennials have also encountered economic challenges like few others. Unlike baby boomers (i.e., those born from 1945 to 1964) or Gen Xers (1965 to 1980), they graduated from college when unemployment was high, and salaries were low — all while confronting significant debts from student loans.

For financial reasons, some took jobs for which they were over-qualified, moved back in with mom and dad, or put off life events like getting married and having children.

All this considered, most millennials are now reaching an age of where they’re exercising greater buying power and exerting more influence in the marketplace.

Forbes research reveals their purchasing preferences

In March 2018, the magazine conducted an online survey of more than 900 Gen Xers and over 1,600 millennials to discern differences from one generation to the next. Here are some highlights from their article, Understanding The Research On Millennial Shopping Behaviors:

  1. Millennials want to feel good about their purchases. The majority (60%) value products that meet both a logistical and emotional need. They gravitate toward purchases that are an expression of their personality. This differs from baby boomers and Gen Xers who often buy based on quantity.
  2. Millennials place a high value on experiences. Fully half of them prefer to spend on experiences rather material things. Many marketers recognize this preference. They’re now employing experiential marketing such as hosting special events like meetups to forge a stronger connection between their brands and buyers.
  3. Millennials enjoy sharing with their friends. They are 13% more likely than Gen Xers to share their opinions on purchases — good or bad — on social media. They also rely on it for the reviews of others. Those marketers seeking to engage with millennials should consider social media pages as a “must have.”
  4. Millennials are not brand loyal. They are twice as likely than Gen Xers to try new and innovative products over older established brands. Brand loyalty is low — even if something has worked reliably in the past. Sales appeals must offer millennials new reasons to connect and return rather than reference past satisfaction.
  5. Millennials trust their peers. In fact, over one-third prefer waiting to buy something until someone they know has tried and endorsed it. Millennials place greater weight on word of mouth and product reviews than company-generated advertising. Hence the advent of influencer marketing among many brands.
  6. Millennials seek relevancy. To be successful, marketers must understand how their brands connect and resonate with this audience. Relevancy is key; nearly half of millennials appreciate when brands create advertising and post on social media channels that somehow appeal and connect on a personal basis.

The Forbes article concludes, “Despite a rather slow and winding path to adulthood, our research has found that millennials are solidly coming into their own. Their purchase behaviors have been shaped by their journey, wrought by social and economic trials, and clear preferences are emerging that can advise brands on the communications and connections that will have the most impact. By following these insights, you can craft your marketing strategies to improve your reach to your millennial audience.”

Of course, these insights on millennials are of value to all — including those in the graphics communications industry.