Part II: Marketing to Millennials
In an economy characterized by buyers with high debt levels and low net worth, how do you sell to those who prefer to share?
The sharing economy is changing the marketing industry, and marketers must adapt to change this threat into an opportunity. Developing a fool-proof strategy to sell is proving ever more difficult. Modern consumers are straying away from traditional buying models, in favour of more practical methods of access.
To illustrate, let’s take a look at how sales and marketing strategies must change in order to accommodate the new consumer, in the new economy.
Sharing is Caring
Consumers think about access differently than ownership. Millennials especially are moving towards a more access-based economy wherein ownership is not a top priority. Whether it be; automotive and transportation, entertainment and media, hospitality and dining, or retail. New attitudes of access are taking over.
Today’s consumers — millennials in particular — are realizing that ownership is not the only solution to have access to the things, (products or services) that they need. However, despite this shift, current mainstream marketing efforts still remain focused on ownership. This focus must shift in order to accommodate new modes of access. In order to establish a successful business model in the access economy, a new understanding of the consumer is needed.
Marketing the Millennial Sell
The millennial generation is the largest generation in North American history. They make up 1/4th of the US population and number roughly 77 million. This generation has just entered its prime spending age, in other words, that is a huge market!
In order for brands to build profitable relationships with their new consumer base, they must first learn to understand them. This includes their habits, their attitudes, their patterns, and more!
Millennials want things at a low cost, and at their convenience. In order for companies to remain relative and competitive, sales models need to be reevaluated so as to reflect the target audience’s wants, needs, and desires.
Access Over Ownership
Do not let the name fool you.
The sharing economy is still an economic exchange. Consumers are not merely seeking out social value from their rental exchanges, but rather, are seeking to either gain revenue by using the things that they already have for profit, or to save on the things that they otherwise would like to have.
Maximize Your Return
Going hand in hand with millennials obsession with value, is their preoccupation with the concept of ROI (Return on Investment). This generation, more than ever before, wishes to seek out the greatest returns in their purchases. This makes specific purchases more attainable, or economically sensible. For example an apartment in the center of a bustling city which is home to a businessman for only two weeks of the month, but serves as an “Airbnb” for the remaining two.
This would have been almost unheard of in our parents time, but to us, it’s become normal, because it just makes more sense.
There has been an emergence of an attitude of optimization, where waste is just unacceptable and should be avoided if at all possible.
Word of Mouth
People trust what they know. An endorsement by someone they know and trust makes consumers more inclined to open up to trying something new.
Long gone are the days where people are enticed to buy products they likely don’t need as result of some strange lady on TV that was paid to tell you how great something is and how much your life will improve after buying it.
The proliferation of content marketing endeavors with a focus on creating genuine value for the consumer, as opposed to bombarding them with a cluttered noise of information about a product or service, will continue to be the future of selling.
But, we will witness this value driven, content absorbent generation, come to purchase decisions more so than ever, by ways of influence.
The expectations of millennials vary greatly from that of previous generations. As result this will force businesses to rethink their branding, marketing and overall strategies in order to maintain business success.
All in all, it appears as though the only things that millennials intend on owning the traditional way, are businesses. Everything else is experiencing a remodel.
This doesn’t mean that no one will be buying cars or houses anymore. However, it does mean that this generation is reinventing the methods of having things and getting things. In the midst of this reinvention, there is likely no turning back. Why? Because the practicality is undeniable.
As has been noted, the only logical way of solving the underlying problem is to reinvent the way we attain the things we want. Which, in turn creates a need to reinvent how product messages are delivered through mediums, methods and messaging.
Millennials have been falsely labeled an entitled, lazy and greedy generation. Yet I contend this to be the exact opposite. Considering we have established ways of doing much more, with much less.
This emerging economy is a prime example of the results of raising children who were taught to share their toys on the playground. Knowing fair and well that in the end if they do just that, fewer people are left out and more get what they want.
By: Amberly Martin
Project Manager at Generation Digital Corp.