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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

Norman Tien, Founder of Neuromath and Early Math Matters

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From a young age, Norman Tien, found his passion helping students as a math tutor and went on to translate that into a successful business.

What’s your story?
From the age of 14, I knew I would be in business for myself and started designing my company logo.

Growing up in a poor family, I worked part time while I was in school. That’s when I started tutoring and realised I had a gift to help students “see” mathematics. I delivered good results, and my students started to love math as well.

A turning point was when I was down with dengue fever and I realised I had to grow my business to the next level. I started a learning centre and that was the beginning of Neuromath. The initial years were tough as costs went up while my personal income took a dive. I almost gave up, but I pushed through.

Today, we have 3 specialty math enrichment centres managed and delivered by my dedicated team of teachers.

What excites you most about your industry?
“How to win” has always influenced how I position myself in the industry. I researched the psychology of learning, why some students are so naturally good at math, while others struggled. I managed to find the connection, and have always sought out niches to position myself so I can win.

In the beginning, I fused academic delivery with psychology to differentiate my services. Now I have a good team of teachers fully equipped with a psychological skillset.

In the next evolution of our business, we will incorporate technology into education in order to customise each student’s learning experience based on his or her needs.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and educated in Singapore. One key driver why I started a business was, as a youth, I witnessed how my dad struggled daily as a taxi driver trying to make ends meet.

That said, I am very blessed to be in Singapore and to be given the right education. I see this as a very important factor to my success today.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore – well, for one, most of my businesses are here. Singapore is convenient for business and is very well governed. There are rules and systems that make the entire entrepreneurial journey more secure here. One big plus is the location: Singapore is a hub that allows us to connect to the world.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
船到桥头自然直 –
There is a Chinese saying that when a boat goes near the pier, it will automatically align itself (with the current). It means we don’t have to worry too much, that things will take care of themselves.

A mentor once challenged me: “But who can guarantee you can even reach the pier?”

It is such a highly competitive world we are in, who can guarantee success? This is the ONE question that has been etched in my mind for decades. The Chinese saying always comes to mind when I am positioning, designing and strategizing for my business.

Who inspires you?
Mr. Lee Kuan Yew – The fact that he started ruling the country just like a startup. With limited resources, he was able to find a strong positioning to differentiate his country from the rest of the of Asia. With hardwork and proper planning, he transformed Singapore from a fishing village to a prominent financial hub in Asia.

Because Mr. Lee Kuan Yew positioned Singapore so well, government owned companies, such as Singapore Airlines, have emerged as the best in the world.

His story inspires me, spurs me to understand that success is not by chance but by design – every little step, all the strategies are all planned out. Not at all by chance.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
My business coach, Marshall Thurber, shared with me the power of the “Trim Tab” – a small part of the rudder system in a ship. This Trim Tab, despite its small size, is able to influence the entire ship’s direction by turning it.

This metaphor helped me see that a man can influence the entire world if the right effort is applied. We are now living in an entirely new world, the way we commute with an app on the phone – that’s the power of the Trim Tab at work.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would embark on the same journey but I would seek a mentor at a very early age.

I have been through many hard knocks along the way, and I definitely could have shortened the learning curve if I had a mentor to advise me on the many aspects of entrepreneurship.

How do you unwind?
Driving down long highways helps me unwind, that’s when I let my mind relax and wander.

I love long distance driving and riding. My wife gave me a Harley Davidson Tourer for my 50th birthday and we intend to embark on riding holidays together in Asia.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Hong Kong – I love the fast pace and the vibrance of the city. I love the cars there and it’s a very unique and exciting experience for me. And of course, I love the food there too!

Everyone in business should read this book:
One Minute Millionaire – this book highlights the mindset of an individual that is the key determinant for success in whatever we embark on. As long as we know we have a very strong reason why we need to do it, we can do it!

Shameless plug for your business:
I am the CEO and Founder of 2 Math enrichment brands:
Neuromath is a Specialist Math Learning Centre that helps students from Primary 1 to Junior College, empowering them with strategies, skills and a strong desire to learn and problem solve. We use technology to train students to avoid careless mistakes reclaiming 30 marks or more in Math exams and achieve their full potential in math.
www.neuromath.com.sg

Early Math Matters is a premier Mathematics and Cognitive Development enrichment centre for preschool children aged 3-6 years old. Through purposeful play and our renowned EMM approach, we help learners build a strong foundation for problem solving at an early age, and instil in them a passion & love for math that will stay with them for life.
www.earlymathmatters.com

We are actively seeking passionate teachers, entrepreneurs and investors who are keen to grow the education business with us.

How can people connect with you?
I speak regularly at workshops for schools, parents and platforms demonstrating the use of technology for peak performance in education.

Do contact me at
www.NormanTien.com

Alternatively, you can connect with me:
www.NormanTien.com/facebook
www.NormanTien.com/linkedin

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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Callum Connects

Mikyung Kim, TV Commercial Producer

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Mikyung Kim is a savvy producer who runs her own TV and print production business, based in Hong Kong.

What’s your story?
I am a TV commercial and print producer working with advertising agencies and brands to bring their communication needs to the screen. My background is in film production and I started my career in Hollywood working with Oscar winning directors Michel Gondry and Alejandro González Iñárritu. Before starting my own company last year to produce content directly with agencies and brands, I was with Ogilvy & Mather Hong Kong for nearly five years as the Senior Producer and Head of TV running the film production department.

What excites you most about your industry?
How it’s constantly evolving! Every day is different and it’s certainly never boring. I love that it’s a creative industry and that my job involves talking to people with creative minds on how we can bring a story on paper to life. It’s exciting that the advertising industry places high value on the creativity and effectiveness of content. I’ve produced a few commercials that creatively push the envelope with fun and sometimes wild ideas that have converted into positive brand awareness. Ever heard of KFC Finger Lickin’ Good…Nail Polish that yes, tastes like chicken? https://www.adweek.com/creativity/kfc-just-made-edible-finger-lickin-good-nail-polish-yeah-tastes-chicken-171245/

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Seoul and raised in Hong Kong until graduating from high school at HKIS. I spent my university years in Boston at Emerson College and worked in Los Angeles at Anonymous Content and Partizan Entertainment. But on a brief visit back to Hong Kong in 2010, I decided to move back and continue my career here, and it was the best decision I ever made.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is my home so it will always be my favourite city for business and for me personally. What I love about Hong Kong is that while I am based here, I can actually work with agencies and brands from anywhere in APAC. If I need to attend an important meeting, I can just hop on a quick flight easily. I spent most of 2017 working in Seoul with Korean agency Cheil and Samsung, and currently I am working with Japanese agency ADK and Toyota based in Singapore.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Fake it until you become it,” from Amy Cuddy’s TED talk. Worth a watch. This helped me early in my career when I felt like I was under qualified for the job I was in. I learned to fake my confidence and fake a powerful body language until I truly felt that confidence became something real. It was nerve wracking at first but it worked and now I don’t have to fake it.

Who inspires you?
My friends. Noelle who worked part time jobs while being a full time student to pay her own tuition while we were in college together. Osti who is a lawyer focused on supporting developing nations and a board member of Redress, an environmental NGO working to reduce waste in the fashion industry. Vanessa who runs a real estate company, co-owns the gym Crossfit Asphodel, started a health foods business called Quo and NGO The Keep Moving Project to promote wellness in our community. Cathy who will be the first Asian woman to direct a big budget superhero film starring Margot Robbie with Warner Bros and DC. And too many more to name!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
5.2 million plastic bottles are thrown away in Hong Kong every day. Plastic pollution is a major issue for the environment and we as responsible citizens can do our small part by reducing our consumption of unnecessary plastic. I do mine by having a water filter at home and carrying my own reusable water bottle with me everywhere I go. I love the brand Hydroflask because the stainless steel material keeps water hot or cold for hours, so I don’t feel tempted to buy a cold water at 7-11 on those hot, humid days we have here.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
About five years ago I purchased my very first stock and put one month’s salary into it, which at the time was a lot of money for me. Knowing how that stock has performed now, I would have put all my savings into it.

How do you unwind?
Exercise is essential in my daily life to help clear my head and de-stress. My go to is a workout at Crossfit Asphodel, running outdoors, yoga and hiking. But a glass of red wine and live music at Soiree in Soho on Sunday night works pretty well too!

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
One of the best trips I ever took was to the island of Lombok in Indonesia. Two girl friends and I did a 3 day 2 night hiking and camping trip to summit the Mount Rinjani Volcano. It was physically challenging but mentally relaxing. There was no cellphone reception, no distractions, we had the company of nature and nights with skies full of shooting stars. It was pretty magical. We then went to the Gili Islands for a few days of scuba diving, yoga and sitting on the beach doing nothing but sipping on coconuts. That was pretty relaxing too.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” by Lois P. Frankel and “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg. Essential reads for every working woman and/or man who wants to know how to support the working women in their life.

Shameless plug for your business:
I am a TV commercial and print producer that can plug into an existing advertising agency or brand team to produce their communication needs. Many advertising agencies these days are scaling down so they have creative directors and account services but may not have an in-house producer, so I can fill that gap by becoming a part of the existing agency team. For brands that want to produce content directly without involving an agency, I can also bridge the gap by bringing my production knowledge in-house and working as part of the marketing/brand team and liaising with the other departments in the company such as product team and ecomm.

How can people connect with you?
They can email me at [email protected]
or visit my website at mkimproducer.com

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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