Millennials—that is, those born in the 1980s or 1990s and primarily the children of the Baby Boomers—boast strong spending power and promising job prospects. Also known as Generation Y, members of this group are the most digitally engaged sector of the population, as well.
However, Asia-Pacific marketers continue to get it wrong when they target this diverse demographic as a homogenous group, according to industry pundits.
“With a 15-year age gap, and in a region as geographically and culturally diverse as APAC, it is unlikely that a message for the Philippines will be effective in China,” said Oscar Trimboli, head of coaching for the Marketing Academy, based in Australia.
Indeed, successful modern marketing has moved beyond broad-based segmentation by age or gender. “Effective marketers today use behavioural, cultural, and psychographic breakdowns to improve demographic segmentation,” Trimboli explained.
Millennials, for instance, tend to look beyond what they see on TV, seek validation online, find shared experiences among their peers, and read reviews to assess the credibility of what they’re seeing. “Trust is timeless,” Trimboli added, and is built through “consistent brand experience,” independent of age.
Ambera Cruz, marketing director, APAC, at Meltwater, said she believes authenticity is key. Marketers must tailor their messages to subsegments of the Millennial demographic, she told CMO.com.
“We have moved on from old-monologue marketing strategies to more engaging dialogue marketing, where customers expect a unique experience customised to their likes, dislikes, tastes, behaviours, and so on,” she said.
Mobile devices and immediate access to information have become an extension of Millennials’ being, given the technological environment they have grown up in. Millennials in the APAC region spend the equivalent of approximately one full day per week on their mobile devices browsing social platforms, watching videos, and even online shopping, according to market research company TNS Global.
“Brands should be using mobiles as a way to extend the brand experience into the physical environments that customers interact with, rather than building their marketing mix around channels or devices,” Marketing Academy’s Trimboli said.
In a diverse region such as APAC, local brands that speak to local cultures and requirements and provide consistent and differentiated offerings will win, he added.
Sydney-based strategic innovation consultant Dr. Ralph Kerle noted that marketers have a huge opportunity to connect with Millennials through mobile, particularly through live entertainment, travel, and finance. “Mobility for Millennials is about how do I travel, how do I save enough money to travel, and how can I find a career around those sorts of things?” he said.
While Millennials are, as a whole, quite diverse, they’re united by an intrinsic hunger for information. As a result, they demonstrate a greater willingness to switch brands than previous generations—a point marketers should keep top of mind.
“Millennials understand what their options are, or at least how to find them, so don't lose their trust—they’re a hard bunch to win over again,” Meltwater’s Cruz said.
For example, the Millennial Disruption Index found that one in three people are open to switching banks in the next 90 days, citing, “I don’t see the difference between my bank and all the others.”
“Millennials won’t take the time to decipher meaning out of your cryptic ads—they’ve already moved on, especially if they're on a mobile,” Cruz said. “If you want to grab their attention, make sure your messaging is compelling, your campaigns are mobile-enabled, and your content relatable to their interests.”
Disruptive brands, in particular, connect well with subsegments of the Millennial demographic because they prioritise relevance and trends over loyalty.
“If you build your company around what's actually happening in the marketplace, or what will be, and can bring that wealth of knowledge into your marketing strategy, you have the upperhand of knowing how to cut through to your audience in a much more effective way,” Cruz explained.
Marketers need to get in front of new trends quickly, Kerle added. “If those new trends don’t deliver what they promise, [Millennials] will get off them as quickly as they got on them,” he said. “They’re looking for the next thing.”