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Why Are Marketers So Obsessed with Millennials?

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Arguably one of the most used (probably overused) words in a marketer’s vocabulary has to be “millennial”, a term that represents society’s young adults and is often associated with words like “tech-savvy,” “self-absorbed,” and “free spirited.” And while these adjectives may apply to some members of this group, one could easily argue that other generations possess these same qualities – after all, I’m sure most of us could think of several baby boomers that not only own the latest tech, but are well-versed in its features.

It certainly begs the question of how different Millennials are from their parents and grandparents, and there’s been no shortage of research to try and find out.

From understanding their purchasing habits to how brand loyal they are, many companies have hired consulting firms just to try and figure out this group.

But why are marketers so captivated by the millennial generation? And is this fixation on them worth it?

The Importance of Millennials to Brands

In the U.S. alone there are about 80 million millennials, making them larger than any other demographic in the country. There are also more Millennials in the workforce than other generations, with an expected $1.4 trillion in disposable income by the year 2020.

There hasn’t been such a fixation on marketing to a specific generation since the baby boomers, and so many consumers outside of this demographic are left wondering why they’re being ignored. Older generations are currently in their prime when it comes to spending ability, so why is their money not seen as valuable as Millennials’?

It’s all about the long-term potential.

While many Millennials haven’t hit their peak purchasing power due to student loans and starting a family, they are certainly heading that way, and brands realize the importance of getting in front of them early. But marketers should take care in making sure that they aren’t alienating other groups of consumers in the process.

Focusing too much on a mobile-first mentality, over-appealing to Millennials’ tech-driven nature, and straying completely away from traditional marketing mediums could indicate that you are solely focused on targeting younger generations, which might make perceived outsiders rethink their brand loyalty.

It’s also important to remember that Millennials have grown up surrounded by advertising anywhere and everywhere they go, so they’re not going to be easily fooled by marketing messages. They know how important their demographic is to company sales, and they aren’t going to play into advertising schemes or games unless they have some real substance.

In fact, they’ll likely get a bad taste in their mouth and seek out an alternative option.

Understanding This Diverse Generation

At the surface, it’s easy to think that the Millennial generation can be generalized into simple categories. They don’t go anywhere without their smart phones, they’re obsessed with social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, and they’re more open-minded when it comes to social issues like climate change. So why are brands spending valuable marketing dollars to study their psychographics and behaviors so meticulously?

It’s because the “Millennial way” of thinking varies quite significantly from traditional corporate views. A Millennial’s mindset is typically considered to be decentralized, meaning they don’t automatically follow societal norms and instead conduct research to develop their own opinions. Corporate structures, on the other hand, generally lend themselves to a more centralized view – one that’s less personalized and focuses on a mass-market approach.

Marketing is certainly beginning to adopt more of a personal, engaging stance, especially with the prominence of social media in most company marketing strategies. But while a brand might do a great job of interacting with its social media followers or email subscribers, do consumers feel that personalization once they get down to purchasing a particular product or service? Generally not.

With the wide range of options available to consumers and a strong awareness of pushy marketing tactics, the challenge is on to cut through the clutter in a non-interruptive way.

This is why mediums like social media and less traditional marketing efforts are now playing such a strong role. You have to find a healthy balance between brand awareness and product promotion to ensure Millennials don’t feel manipulated and are encouraged to take action.

Long-Term Brand Loyalty

The most significant benefit to attracting a Millennial audience is their potential long-term value to a brand. However, a common misconception is that they aren’t brand loyal because there are always new and improved products entering the market.

In reality, 1 in 5 Millennials say that they would willingly choose the same brand as their parents, just for different reasons (e.g. social media, mobile presence). So maybe this group isn’t as disloyal as marketers think.

It’s easy to focus so much on grabbing attention that you forget about the fact that you want these individuals to keep coming back to your brand. Price is certainly an important factor to Millennials, with 56% switching brandsbecause of price or a change in their financial situation.

Another factor that impacts brand loyalty is how modern a brand is perceived to be. Companies that don’t have a mobile-friendly website, don’t utilize social media, or focus too much on product promotion could be perceived as outdated and undesirable to this generation. And Millennials place a strong emphasis on brands that “get them.”

When it comes to reasons why they might switch brands, the availability of something new and peer recommendations are the biggest influencers. So while it’s true that Millennials are always looking to check out the latest and greatest, they’re still influenced by more traditional marketing, like recommendations and word of mouth. To best capitalize on this group both now and down the line, it’s important to listen and respond to them like you would any other generation. Listening to customer questions, feedback, and complaints is essential to creating and maintaining a positive reputation with consumers.

At the end of the day, the authentic brand will be the successful one.

Not Everyone is Convinced

Even though it seems like most brands have jumped on the Millennial bandwagon, some are holding out – there’s still some skepticism as to why marketers are focusing so heavily on this group and seemingly forgetting about the others. And rightfully so.

The baby boomer generation currently possesses 80% of the developed world’s wealth, so why would you want to ignore them? Even if they don’t have as much long-term value as Millennials, there’s money in their pockets right now that they are looking to spend. Brands should never focus their marketing on just one generation unless their products and services are only applicable to that group.

For instance, while a selfie stick manufacturer probably won’t be making a lot of sales to baby boomers, Apple is selling iPads to a wide range of consumers.

It’s also hard to figure out the best way to target the Millennial generation because there is so much diversityamong them. Millennials pushing 30 years old don’t typically have the same purchasing power or interests as those who are just entering college, even though they fall into the same generation. On one hand, recent graduates might have more disposable income because they’re entering full-time jobs for the first time in their lives, while others may be paying back loans and starting a family.

You can’t make simple generalizations for this group – or any demographic for that matter.

How Should Marketers Manage Millennials?

There’s no arguing that the Millennial generation possesses a lot of potential purchasing power and brand loyalty, so it’s important to develop a marketing strategy to cater to their highly digital nature. However, it’s also important to never alienate customers to target a specific demographic, so campaigns should include a variety of elements to appeal to all of these groups.

No matter what, there will always be brands trying to capitalize on the “it” generation of the moment. Right now, it’s Millennials as they enter adulthood and their peak spending years. In a decade, Generation Z will likely become the focal point as Millennials become older and more established. It’s a cycle that will repeat itself over and over again.

And, ultimately, it’s the brands that can find a way to cater to each of these groups simultaneously that will see the most brand loyalty and long-term success.

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About the Author

This article was written by Kim Speier of Social Media Today. Social Media Today is an online community and resource for professionals in marketing, social business, communication, customer experience, content marketing and digital strategy, or any other discipline where a thorough understanding of social media is mission-critical.Kim is currently an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Mainstreethost, a digital marketing agency in Buffalo, NY. As a regular contributor to the Mainstreethost blog, she enjoys writing about social media, SEO, content marketing, web design, and mobile technology. In her free time she enjoys watching the Bills and Sabres, skiing during the long Buffalo winters, and keeping up with the latest trends on Twitter.

Callum Connects

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Entrepreneurship

Before you enter a Startup or before you choose your founding team or new hires read, “Entering Startupland” by Jeff Bussgang

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Before you enter a Startup or before you choose your founding team or new hires read “Entering Startupland” by Jeff Bussgang.

Jeff knows how to spot and groom good culture, as the book session was held in Zestfinance a company he invested in and now, “The Best Workplaces for Women” and for “The Best Workplaces for Tech”, by Fortune.

These are the questions during the Book Launch.

How to know if a hire including the founder is Startup material?
Jeff says to watch for these qualities.

First, do the hires think like an owner?
Second, do the hires test the limits, to see how things can it be done better?
Are they problem solvers and are biased toward action?
Do they like managing uncertainty and being comfortable with uncertainty? And comfortable with rapid decision-making?
Are they comfortable with flexible enough to take in a series of undefined roles and task?

How do we know if we are simply too corporate to be startup?

Corporate mindsets more interested in going deep into a particular functional area? These corporate beings are more comfortable with clear and distinct lines of responsibility, control, and communication? They are more hesitant or unable to put in the extra effort because “it’s not my job”.

If you do still want to enter a startup despite the very small gains at the onset, Jeff offers a few key considerations on how to pick a right one.

He suggests you pick a city as each city has a different ecosystems stakeholders and funding sources and market strengths. You have to invest in the ecosystem and this is your due diligence. Understand it so you can find the best match when it arises.
Next, to pick a domain, research and solidify your understanding with every informational interview and discussion you begin. Then, pick a stage you are willing to enter at. They are usually 1)in the Jungle, 2) the Dirt Road or 3) the Highway. The Jungle has 1-50 staff and no clear path with distractions everywhere and very tough conditions. The Dirt Road gets clearer but is definitely bumpy and windy. Well the Highway speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Finally Please – Pick a winner!

Ask people on the inside – the Venture Capitalists, the lawyers, the recruiters and evaluate the team quality like any venture capitalists would. Would you want to work for the team again and again? And is the startup working in a massive market? Is there a clear recurring business model?

After you have picked a winning team and product, how would you get in through the door?

You need to know that warm introductions have to be done. That’s the way to get their attention. Startups value relationships and people as they need social capital to grow. If you have little experience or seemingly irrelevant experience, go bearing a gift. Jeff shared a story of a young ambitious and bright candidate with no tech experience who went and did a thorough customer survey of the users of the startup she intended to work with. She came with point-of-view and presented her findings, and they found in her, what they needed at that stage. She became their Director of Growth. Go in with the philosophy of adding value-add you can get any job you want.

And as any true advisor would do, Jeff did not mince his words, when he reminded the audience that, “If you can’t get introduced you may not be resourceful enough to be in startup.”

Startupland is not a Traditional Career or Learning Cycles

Remember to see your career stage as a runs of 5 years, 8 or 10 – it is not a life long career. In Startup land consider each startup as a single career for you.

Douglas Merrill, founder of Zestfinance added from his hard-earned experience that retention is a challenge. Startup Leaders to keep your people, do help them with the quick learning cycles. Essentially from Jungle to Dirt road, the transition can be rapid and so each communication model that starts and exists, gets changed quickly. Every twelve months, the communication model will have no choice but to break down and you have to reinvent the communication model. Be ready as a founder and be ready as a member of the startup.

Another suggestion was to have no titles for first two years. So that everyone was hands-on and also able to move as one entity.

Effective Startupland Leaders paint a Vision of the Future yet unseen.

What I really enjoyed and resonated with as a coach and psychologist was how Douglas at the 10th hire thought very carefully what he was promising each of his new team member. He was reminded that startups die at their 10th and their 100th hires. He took some mindful down time and reflected. He then wrote a story for each person in his own team and literally wrote out what the company would look like and their individual part in it. In He writing each of the team members’ stories into his vision and giving each person this story, it was a powerful communication piece. He definitely increased the touch points and communication here is the effective startup’s leverage.

Douglas and Jeff both suggested transparency from the onset.

If you think like an owner and if you think of your founding team as problem solvers. Then getting transparent about financials with your team is probably a good idea. As a member of a startup, you should insist on knowing these things
Such skills and domain knowledge will be valuable. There is now historical evidence of people leaving startups and being a successful founder themselves because they were in the financial trenches in their initial startup. Think Paypal and Facebook Mafia.

What drives people to enter a startup?

The whole nature of work is changing. Many are ready to pay to learn. Daniel Pink’s book Drive showed how people are motivated by certain qualities like Mastery, Autonomy and Where your work fits into big picture. Startups do that naturally. There is a huge amount of passion and the quality of team today and as it grows then the quality of company changes.

The Progress principle is in place, why people love their startup jobs is not money rather are my contributions being valued? Do I see a path of progress and do I have autonomy over work and am I treated well?

Find out more about StartupLand on Amazon

And learn from Zestfinance

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