By 2020, Millennials will make up a total of 50% of the workforce and will control roughly $400 billion in spending power. This change marks a large shift in purchasing power as Millennials become the majority of the consumer market. Millennials, unlike any other generation that has come before them, have embraced social media. In fact, Millennials and social media have become almost synonymous with one another. Because of this, social media has progressed beyond social networking. It has become a wide set of platforms that are relied upon for news, activism, humor and, of course, marketing and advertising. With the rise of social media, brands have started to utilize its channels to reach and resonate with Millennial customers and to tap into their large purchasing power.
Research on “Millennial characteristics” when it comes to purchasing decisions is prevalent. Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the generation born between 1980 and 2000. Some say that they are fickle and at times inattentive to the world around them, but upon closer examination Millennials have been found to be extremely deliberate with their choices. This is most noticeable in what and how they buy. When it comes to purchase decisions, there are four classic core values that Millennials seek out: authenticity, trust, involvement and validation. Social media marketing is especially effective for resonating with Millennial buyers and these specific values. Social networks provide the perfect confluence of the four if done correctly: the content shared on social media is authentic, it is created by friends and peers, and it can be used in relevant and valuable ways.
Today, 73% of the U.S. population has some sort of a social media profile. This is a large pool of consumers that brands could be targeting. Different social media channels allows companies to individually tailor content and campaigns to reach a very targeted demographic. Savvy digital marketers understand that the social media platforms that you market on should reflect the target demographic of your brand. Social media marketing allows companies to exemplify values that Millennials hold dear such as authenticity and social validation. They also open up the possibility for direct conversations between the brand and its customers. As a result, brands today are allocating more of their marketing budgets to social media to find and engage new customers. While most brands focus on creating content for social media, increasing their followings, and building levels of engagement– there is more than marketers can do to leverage social media to attract Millennial customers.
One of the best ways for brands to understand and market to millennials is by tapping into the power of user-generated content. In today’s digital age, marketers no longer get to tell consumers what their brand stands for, consumers tell each other what the brand stands for. How can marketers leverage digital word of mouth to attract and connect with Millennial customers? User-generated content serves as the most trusted form of product reviews currently available. Social media users create an insane amount of user-generated content—over 2 billion photos are posted and shared every day online. This customer-created content often features the brands, products, and places that they love. These photos are visual endorsements that serve as 5-star ratings of the brands that they buy from. Some marketers have started to put user-generated content to use, curating a digital story from the mass of photos and videos that their customers share. By doing so, marketers are building a trustworthy avenue that shows their products’ real world usability and inspires potential customers to buy.
In 2017, U.S. Millennials will spend over 200 billion dollars in the consumer markets. That’s roughly a third of the yearly consumer market expectation. They will spend across different venders and for very different reasons. What’s important to takeaway is that more than 50% of Millennials make an extra effort to buy from companies who they believe represent their values: validation, trust, authenticity and a sense of involvement. To maximize this opportunity, brands should partner with Millennial content creators and expand the reach of this content by being active on social media. In order to do this, brands will need to engage enthusiastic customers and leverage user-generated content to reach more customers and validate their products.