From pop culture to the workplace, Millennials are forging the future. As the largest generation in U.S. history enters adulthood, they’re making a massive impact on our society.
With such scale and influence, it is no wonder Millennials are becoming a focus for many marketers. Given this new generation of consumers and a vastly evolving media landscape, it’s important that marketers move beyond targeting by traditional demographics and have a better understanding of the audiences they’re trying to reach.
Horizon Media and Fizziology recently set out to better understand what makes Millennials tick. In their research, Horizon used paneling to uncover four distinct psychographic segments based on outlook on life and upward mobility, then Fizziology used social media research to follow individuals in each segment and observe their natural interactions with others, philosophies on life, evolving media habits, and opinions on brands. The resulting insights create a map for marketers to better understand, target, and connect with Millennials.
Of the four Millennial segments, one is of particular importance to marketers: “Confident Connecteds.” This group is satisfied and upwardly mobile, and they advocate for their generation. In social media, they’ll post about news that matters to them. They have a strong point of view but are seldom offensive. They’re a group of motivators, posting inspirational quotes, business tips, and guidance.
Confident Connecteds are the most likely of the four groups to engage with brands in positive ways. They are avid sharers who respond to promotions, hashtags, giveaways, and sweepstakes. For them, these actions are less about branding themselves and more about sharing great deals with others and engaging with the brand in order to receive something.
To reach this desirable audience, marketers need to:
- Be additive: In their quest for enrichment, Confident Connecteds curate brands and experiences as a way of adding value to their life. If you’re not adding, you’re subtracting from their precious time.
- Build a reputation: As careful planners and educated consumers, Confident Connecteds spend after they’ve done extensive research. They’re also more likely to respond to CSR efforts.
- Key category opportunities: Health & wellness, sporting goods, consumer electronics, home goods
The other three segments are less likely to engage with a brand’s promotions directly. Instead, engagement needs to come from something that provides entertainment value or reflects personal aspirations. “Youthful Pursuits,” in particular, use brands as status symbols, painting a positive picture about themselves and mocking those they see as cheap or “old.”
Youthful Pursuits seem to be a conflicted group. Through social accounts, they display a mix of self-deprecation and overconfidence. Most posts are centered on themselves rather than other people, news, or brands. Social is their soapbox, and they use it to air drama, complain, and discuss the mundane.
To market to these individuals, brands should:
- Start the launch here: Because they spend quickly and impulsively to stay trendy, Youthful Pursuits are a prime target for new product lines and extensions, especially in fashion, beauty, and entertainment. Their “look what I got” mentality means word spreads fast.
- Stay aspirational and on your toes: This segment gets bored easily. Brands must constantly evolve and redefine with them. They’re less likely to engage with brands that are considered old.
- Key networking opportunities: Shopping, fashion, beauty, concerts, nightlife, social events
“Indie Dreamers” talk in a similar way, but will buzz more about good and bad experiences with a brand, either by talking about them or directly to them using a company’s Twitter handle. They also mock those who are out of style or outdated. This means they can be a brand’s greatest advocates or biggest detractors depending on their whims.
This is a group that is well-adjusted and socially aware, and they enjoy artistic expression. They use social media to share their most valuable opinions and unique life experiences, as well as to connect with their friends and followers (even though a significant portion of their followers may be people they’ve never met).
In order to reach this audience, brands must:
- Be quirky and unique: Indie Dreamers want to stand out. They value brands that set them apart and highlight their individuality and creativity.
- Be valuable to their life pursuit: Indie Dreamers are always looking for the benefit in things, especially how they support their personal goals and identities. Provide them with information, connections, or experiences that support their individualistic drive.
- Key category opportunities: Financial services, home goods, food & drink, entertainment
“Creatures of Comfort” consume a lot of media and, therefore, they consume a lot of ads. But that doesn’t mean they respond well to them. This group is more likely to complain about advertising (either specific content or general oversaturation) and openly ridicule brands with which they have had a bad experience. They don’t talk about the brands/products they aspire to own, but more about the products they use in their daily life, like technology, food, and beverages.
In general, Creatures of Comfort appear complacent and self-centered, though they’re very connected to the online world. They post about everything: life in general, what they’re doing at the time, conversations with friends, thoughts about the media and products they consume, and aspirations (or lack thereof). For this group, social media is their method of socializing.
Marketers may want to focus less effort on this group, and when they do engage they should:
- Be present, but save your breath: Creatures of Comfort are reluctant to try you in the first place. They are difficult to pull into the fold; they are content in the brands they know and love, and reluctant to engage outside the familiar.
- Don’t look for advocates here: Brand names are lost to them and their social network.
- Key category opportunities: Gaming, entertainment
Like any other generation, Millennials are far from a homogenous group. In order for marketers to truly unlock their potential, they need to show an understanding of their audience, speak in their language, and provide something of value. Millennials have proved that when marketers engage in a meaningful way, they’ll respond.