Making Meaningful Connections with the Next Generation

By Eamonn Nolan, Senior Account Executive – December 4, 2015

Millennials. The Boomers’ offspring. Founders of the social media movement. Constantly connected. Educated. Diverse. Pro-community. Socially dependent. Intensely brand-loyal. Cause-oriented. Self-expressive. Frugal. Savvy. 75 million+ persons and $1.3 trillion strong in buying power.[i] Me.

There’s no doubt: Millennials like myself are a generational force of the ages. Even the White House Council of Economic Advisors points to our influence, noting the tremendous impact we will continue to have on the U.S. economy.[ii] So it probably goes without saying (although I’ll say it anyway) that, as marketing communications professionals, where and how we engage with these individuals matters.

Before I get into specifics, let’s take a closer look at this group that ranges in age today roughly from 20-38, depending on whom you ask. We don’t know a world without the Internet. We don’t write checks (most of my friends probably don’t even own a checkbook). We are socially fueled—choosing to live in dense, urban environments, surrounded by others—and more ethnically and racially diverse than any generation before us.

The tragic events of 9/11 hit during our early years, and we’ve grown up in a tough economy. We’re careful with the limited dollars we have, and we’re always looking for a good deal. But Millennials don’t skimp on quality, and we’re willing to pay more for a brand with heart. We’re very well educated—enough to form opinions of our own—yet are simultaneously dependent on the views and opinions of others. We sleep with our smart phones by our bed, and have been known to post status updates from the bathroom.

Given these sometimes contradictory qualities, how can marketing communications professionals best ensure they’re putting forward the content and messaging that will truly resonate? Here are a few tips, for starters.

Make it quick—and easy. We prefer retail clinics to doctors’ offices.[iii] We want easily accessible, factual, digital information, not hard-copy discussion guides, to help steer a conversation with a nurse practitioner at our local CVS (so we can shop while we wait).

Go local. Our generation loves to keep it homegrown. If it’s grown or brewed or crafted in our city, we’ll buy it. Grassroots programs that engage community institutions and figureheads will count.

Think cause-marketing. Millennials are cause-evangelists, and we indulge in goods and services from companies that give back.[iv] Don’t believe me? Check out any Millennial’s Facebook page. You’re likely to find some kind of cause-related post, if not dozens.

Make sure you’re mobile. And I’m not just talking mobile-enabled product websites (although these are plus, too). I’m talking integration with apps like Healthgrades and Yelp. And if you think peer-to-peer review platforms are silly or a waste of time, think again. Almost half of Millennials turn to online review apps when looking for a healthcare provider.[v]

Interact, respond and keep it fresh. Millennials can’t stand seeing the same content over and over again. We want to hear from you, but only if you speak to us like a real person. And use images. We love images. And if we post a question, answer it, please—and not with “canned” language that sounds like it came from a robot. [vi]

The Millennials have taken on the daunting task of dominating the U.S. during times of great challenge and change. Where weaker generations might have assumed a “survival of the fittest” individualistic mentality, the Millennials are emerging as societal role models, leaning hard on each other, supporting companies who care and bringing actual “value” back into play.

So make the effort to talk to us like we matter. Fact is, we do.