Targeting the Millennial Consumer

Posted by Lindsay Maroney

Tue, Jan 21, 2014

Millennials 620x384The Millennial Generation, which includes those born between 1980 and 1995, is taking the world by storm. Not only are they the future leaders, with many already making an impact (think Mark Zuckerberg), they are also rapidly becoming the focus of many marketing campaigns from companies hungry to have them as customers. This isn’t surprising: they are the largest generation on earth at 1.8 billion and soon to be the richest, with their earnings projected to outpace Baby Boomers by 2018.Companies attempting to gain share of Millennials’ fast growing wallets need to adjust their strategies. The Millennial generation may look like the others, but it is not. This generation has different likes, interests, and shopping habits, along with a deep-seated dependence on social media. As such, companies from a variety of industries are taking differentiated approaches to reaching this group, all of which utilize an aspect of social media. Some examples of these approaches appear below.

Making affluence affordable: In the spring of 2013, Mercedes released their 2014 CLA, with a markedly low price point of $30,000. This release was coupled with a marketing strategy heavily influenced by social media. Though its own microsite, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Mercedes drove its #CLAtakethewheel campaign. It encouraged consumers to create their own shareable content while further promoting it through an Instagram sweepstakes.

Gaining peer approval: Warby Parker, an eyewear manufacturer, not only sends customers 5 trial pairs of glasses, but provides them the opportunity to upload a video of themselves, trying on their frames, to Facebook. Once uploaded, they can get feedback from their friends, and Warby Parker’s team will even share a recommendation for which frames work best for that consumer’s face.

Supporting a cause: With 83% of Millennials saying that they will patronize a company with a charitable component over one without, companies like Target are taking advantage of this social consciousness by supporting a cause. Target, through its collaboration with FEED Projects, created a YouTube campaign, illustrating how purchasing a FEED-branded product will support the fight against hunger.

These campaign examples show that there is no single blueprint for how to successfully target Millennials. But there is one thing that they all have in common, in addition to using social media: they effectively identify and appeal to common characteristics of this age group. Whether it is making luxury cars more affordable, helping Millennials gain approval from their peers, or appealing to their desire to help the less fortunate, these companies hit the mark. After all, a diverse generation needs diversity in how they are reached.

Lindsay is an Associate Consultant at  South Street Strategy Group. South Street South Street Strategy GroupStrategy Group, an independent sister company of Chadwick Martin Bailey, integrates the best of strategy consulting and marketing science to develop better growth and value delivery strategies. 

Topics: South Street Strategy Group, Strategic Consulting, Marketing Strategy, Generational Research

Can an App Make Improving Customer Experience a Snap?

Posted by Kate Zilla-Ba

Wed, May 22, 2013

taco bell snapchatIf you're over the age of 25, are childless, and have any idea of what Snapchat is, kudos on your tech hipster status. For those with tweens or teens, you may have been allowed to see a brief glimpse of this world, and maybe some of you have even heard it called a “sexting” app.Don’t we love our flow of both successful and flash-in-the-pan communication tools!  YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…and now there’s Snapchat. Will it have the longevity of these household names?  It’s hard to say. But there’s been phenomenal adoption for this app that allows instant communication gratification. One of the key selling points of Snapchat appears to be its “self-destruct” feature.  That is, when you take a picture and send it via Snapchat the recipient has, say, 10 seconds to view it once opened before it, poof, vanishes. The idea is that the communication happens but there’s no record—incriminating or otherwise.

Now, a recipient can take a screen shot of the image (the sender is notified in this case), or if they were so inclined could use another device to take a picture of the image showing on the phone… Whew, that’s a lot of work with 50 million snaps a day already flying around as of last December (for reference, 300 million images are uploaded to Facebook a day).  

So with Snapchat, users take pictures or videos of themselves or their surroundings and send them (with a message if desired) to a contact. Once viewed, the recipient’s device in theory no longer retains the image.  This purports to alleviate concerns over the public trail left on Twitter or Facebook, and it has already been used for branding. 

A frozen yogurt shop in NYC, 16 Handles, was reportedly the first to use it for an instant couponing program—if a customer was in the right store and the right time they could get an instant coupon to flash to the salesperson for a discount. It was essentially gamification of the mobile social local aspect of the app – adding something fun and interactive. Early this month, Taco Bell joined the action, urging their fans to add them on Snapchat and reintroducing the Beefy Crunch Taco via the app.

How can other brands use this app to help manage and measure customer experiences? Much like Google Surveys says you can ask a whole survey worth of questions, pieced together one question per respondent at a time, to make the whole picture, instant messaging apps could be used to piece together a more holistic picture of how customers experience and interact with a brand.

mobileOr, shh, what about Whisper—another app phenomenon that recently got $3m in start-up funding. This one allows anonymous posting of secrets. It’s not the first idea of its kind, but it is apparently heavily moderated—good. And here’s where the generation gap really kicks in. Whisper users need this app on a psychosocial level because they have pressure to live such curated lives on Facebook. Living up to the self-brand they create is too much. Whisper is supposedly an outlet for being “real.”

That sounds even more like something that could be a source plumbed for customer experience insights, although their terms and conditions currently say clearly that you may not use the site to mine data. What about a Whisper business account that asked consumers what they secretly do, or wish they could do, with their next vacation, car rental, computer purchase, etc.?

It’s conceivable that the future could be mapped through compiling many blips of information into a coherent story. It is big data of a whole different kind. Yet, a word to the wise: there will always be newer and cleverer platforms, apps, or gadgets to let you connect with customers, but you still need to know your audience’s wants and needs—that’s been the same for centuries!

Kate is a Project Director, working with clients across many industries at CMB. She has been known to perform in local musical theater here and there, speaks three languages well and a few others passably, and loves coincidence.

Click here to read our 2013 Consumer Pulse-The Mobile Moment: Barriers and Opportunities for Mobile Wallet

Topics: Big Data, Mobile, Social Media, Customer Experience & Loyalty, Generational Research

We are the Millennials! AND WE ARE. . .Hopeless?

Posted by Keri Ibbitson

Wed, May 30, 2012

Millenials textingThe other day I read an interesting article in the Chicago Tribune; the headline read:   Hard-hit Millennials less likely to be brand loyal. As a “hard-hit” millennial (those aged 19-34), who owes the value of a modest-home in student loans, I was very interested in what the marketing masterminds of the world had concluded. Turns out, it’s not so good.

According to a study released by WSL Strategic Retail, 25% of Millennials reported that they do not have enough money to cover basic needs. It also concluded that 80% of Millennials believe it’s important to get the lowest price when shopping and 60% would choose a lower priced item over their usual brand if it meant saving a few bucks.  The article also suggests that retailers had previously considered Millennials their “golden ticket” to growth and success. I guess they opened the wrong Wonka bar.

As an agent of consumer research, I began to wonder about our clients and other brand marketers. Are they spending sleepless nights trying to develop plans to compensate for a demographic that is not only unwilling, but virtually unable to spend? Millennials have already been dubbed “untouchable” by traditional marketing standards due to the digital boom; it makes you wonder why brands would invest countless dollars in research and marketing efforts if Millennials are such a lost cause. My advice to marketers? …don’t start losing sleep just yet.

To be clear, we see evidence that supports WSL’s conclusions. Our Winter 2011 Consumer Pulse research on loyalty found that Millennials expressed less loyalty than Boomers to a range of products, with the exception of social networking sites and electronics.

However, we can also find support that suggests Millennials are not as hopeless as they seem. The same Pulse research found that 84% of Millenials consider themselves moderately loyal. In addition, nearly half (46%) said that there are companies or products they’re so “loyal” to that they do not consider price when making a purchase decision. So how does one crack that egg?  What it comes down to is experience. Fifty-three percent of Millenials were willing to pay a bit more to companies they’ve used before and whose products they know they’ll like.

Despite it all, Millennials appear optimistic. Having grown up in an era plagued by war and economic strife, you would think the negativity would bring us down. However, Millennials are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. According to a separate Consumer Pulse research study CMB conducted in summer 2011, 48% of Millennials surveyed were optimistic that their financial situation would get better in the next 12 months. And nearly a third (29%) said the economic downturn had no effect on their stress levels.

While our pockets may not be as deep as we would like, we are optimistic they one day will be. In fact, the same Summer 2011 Pulse research found 59% of Millennials viewed “being indulgent” a highly important goal/value. When the day finally comes where we can afford to spend, you can bet we will, and loyalty will be a driver. So have a little faith, brand marketers of the universe…we Millennials sure do. 

To read our latest Consumer Pulse reports exploring exploring trends in social media, healthcare, technology, travel, entertainment, and finance, click here.

Posted by Keri Ibbitson. Keri is an Associate Researcher with the Travel and Entertainment team. She considers herself very brand loyal, always choosing General Mills Cocoa Puffs over store brands.

Topics: Consumer Pulse, Customer Experience & Loyalty, Generational Research