Marketing to Millennials

How CMOs Can Appeal to the Consumer Base's 2 Largest Demographics

'Making it mobile' and practicing engagement and authenticity are key to reaching young people.
How CMOs Can Appeal to the Consumer Base's 2 Largest Demographics
Image credit: Tom Werner | Getty Images
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Founder of Verma Media
5 min read
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It's a fact: Millennials and Gen-Zers now make up the largest consumer base in the United States.

Related: 3 Essential Tips for Marketing to Millennials

Millennials comprise some 71 million Americans, according to The Pew Research Center, and their age demographic is expected to overtake the baby boomer generation by 2019. According to data from Nielsen, Gen-Zers make up 26 percent of the American population; and, as any CMO knows, their habits are even more mysterious than those of the millennials who came before them.

After all, so many of the rules of marketing were written to appeal to baby boomers, making it a challenge to appeal to younger demographics.

However, there are some foolproof strategies that CMOs can use, strategies that don't require selling everything with avocado toast on the side, either. Understanding the behaviors and needs of these two demographics -- millennials and Gen-Zers -- will make a huge difference in your marketing strategy.

Make it about mobile.

When it comes to smartphones, no one knows the technology better than the youngest age cohorts, because no one uses them as much. Millennials were the first to embrace the smartphone, and Gen-Zers grew up with 3G access in their hands, first with their parents' tablets when they were children, and now with their own phones (which they're constantly checking).

Some 98 percent of Gen Zers own a smartphone, in fact, which means that many of them are going to be introduced to your brand not via a desktop web browser or a television commercial, but through scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.

All of the information you offer about your brand, then, has to be online. It's best to go with a mobile-first website and be active on your social media profiles. Snapchat may not be the easiest platform to use -- it's less business-friendly than Instagram and Facebook -- but the effort will pay off. To learn more about social media strategies, take a look at these tips from Business West.

Related: Hitting the Marketing Email Sweet Spot With Millennials (Infographic)

Engage as much as possible.

Additionally, younger generations that are used to being catered to expect brands to reach out to them, not only on social media in a broad sense, but also through personal interactions and customized touchpoints.

For example, the real estate company First Equity Funding recommends that realtors stay connected with millennial clients during every step of the house-buying process. "Millennials aren't the most patient generation," the company explains. "If you don't respond to them right away, they'll get bored and move on. After giving an open house, give interested buyers multiple ways to contact you and be on alert for text messages and emails. If prospective buyers have questions, be ready to answer them. Millennials want instant gratification."

For Gen-Zers of the "always on and on-demand" generation, this is even truer. Two-thirds of Gen-Zers believe brands should help them achieve personal goals and aspirations, which is a 7 percent increase over millennials; so, in addition to constant engagement, tailor your content to suit their needs.

Be authentic.

Ironically, although younger generations want to be catered to, the last thing they want is to feel as though you're pandering to them. They can sense a sales pitch from a mile away, and when it's overdone, it comes off as disingenuous. Connor Blakely, an entrepreneur and Gen-Zer hired for his advice by big businesses, explained on his blog that, "A general misconception regarding Gen Z is that they commonly use acronyms like 'LOL,' ... or 'SMH' while texting. When brands use this type of language in an attempt to look trendy, it comes off as fake. Now more than ever, today's youth act and behave like adults. They want to be treated as such."

If you truly want to be authentic, then, this is where you can use your CMO role to your advantage. All you need to do is complete your customer research, understand what these generations need by posting surveys or using analytics tools and then speak to them directly about what matters to them.

To explore some brands that have done this successfully, take a look at this article. Gen-Zers aren't just a bunch of teenagers anymore; 61 million of them are about to enter the workforce. Understanding how to communicate with them is essential to your business's success.

Finding the most important strategies CMOs are using to appeal to younger demographics

Finally, it's critical to understand that you will have to separate your millennial buyer personas from those of Gen-Zers, as these two age cohorts are quite different despite their closeness in age. Ultimately, appealing to these groups is about being technologically savvy and engaging on a personal level.

Related: 4 Marketing Tactics for Appealing to Generation Z

What strategies is your brand using to market to Millennials and Gen Z?

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