Monday, August 1, 2016

Marketing to Millennials (A Brief Overview)

As any reader of this blog is well aware, I regularly frequent our local libraries. My favorite section of the library varies, but one that has been recurring over the past two decades is the audio book section. (Am currently listening to The Information by James Glieck.) I also find myself frequently standing in front of the New Books shelves. That's where I picked up this one. The full title of the book is Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever. It's kind of a funny title because we Boomers had been told all our lives that we were the largest and most influential generation ever. Nevertheless, the book caught my eye last month at the library.

The reason businesses want to reach the next generation is pretty self-evident. If the people you're currently doing business with are older, like you, sooner or later they are going to die. And you won't have any customers left. There are church congregations that have disappeared in this manner. When I think of Harley-Davidson I don't readily have an image of millennials popping into my mind's eye. What image comes to mind for you?

This book's premise is that we might want help understanding this next gen consumer. The chapter outline goes like this:

1. Who are They?
2. The New Rules
3. Engage These Early Adopters of New Technologies
4. Build a Listening and Participation Strategy
5. Make Them Look Good Among Their Peers
6. Design a Sense of Fun and Adventure
7. Don't Give Them a Reason to Cheat on You

And then the Epilogue breaks out like this:
Keep up with technology trends
Engage Millennial in everything you do
Strive for content excellence
Good content is key
No brand can afford to ignore Millennials (EdNote: unless you're selling Depends.)

It sounded interesting up to this point, so I began to wade in. Chapter one goes into detail about Millennial Personas.
1. Hip-ennial
Cautious, global, charitable, info hungry
2. Old-School Millennial
Disconnected, cautious, charitable
3. Gadget Guru
Successful, wired, free-spirited
4. Clean & Green Millennial
Impressionable, cause driven, healthy and green
5. Millennial "Mom"
Wealthy, family-oriented, digitally savvy
6. Anti-Millennial
Locally minded, conservative

By the time I finished this first chapter though I felt like I was engaging an abstraction. My head had become numb with trying to grasp these definitions and picture people who fit them. The boxes were defined, but as I thought about my own kids it seemed hard to squeeze them into such strictly defined categories. Then I thought about their friends who were now grown, some making a mark on the world and others drifting. None seemed to fit exactly, though there were a few blended categories that could be made to sort of work.

In truth, the authors Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton produced the book for this very reason. That is, so much literature had been written stating that Millennials are this or that or that over there, as if one definition-size could fit all. They understood that there's no such thing as a homogenous Millennial persona, just as Baby Boomers have produced a diverse range of personalities with both similar and dissimilar motivations and interests. If you don't believe me, compare or contrast Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Steve Jobs, Jeff Koons and Bruce Springsteen. (You probably don't see those names in the same sentence very often.)

Once I got past the first chapter hurdle I found a book chock full of charts and data that really can prove useful if you're involved in any aspect of sales and marketing.

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If you read for diversion, check out my first collection of short stories: Unremembered Histories: Six Stories with a Supernatural Twist. You can also read my other two collections of short stories if you have a Kindle or any other kind of E-Reader. (FWIW: The eBooks are $1.99)

Meantime life goes on all around you. Whatever happens, don't let it pass you by.

1 comment:

Ed Newman said...

I saw this today in a Computerworld eNewsletter and it related directly to this topic.... Microsoft's efforts to market to Millennials: