Although many purchase decisions are made at retail, Millennials use a variety of mobile and online resources to gather product and promotional information. Perhaps the most distinguishing quality of the Millennial generation is its affinity for technology. After all, this is the first generation to be "always connected." According to University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, 80 to 90 percent of Millennials use social media, and 80 percent sleep with their cell phones next to them.
And to take it a step further, Millennials are especially susceptible to digital marketing, for digital is this generation's medium of choice. Digital influences play a huge role in their purchase decisions. For example, Millennials are more than 200 times more likely than the average shopper to be influenced by smartphone apps when making brand decisions. In Eric Anderson's "The 5 myths of marketing to Millennials," he suggests that the group is still influenced by direct mail, but based on their digital dependence, Millennials may begin to see this as junk mail. All traditional marketing efforts to Millennials should be supported digitally, through targeted online campaigns and consistent conversation on social media.
Millennials as brand evangelists
When new mothers of past generations needed a diaper brand recommendation, they turned to a close girlfriend or even their own mother for advice. But today, with one tweet or Facebook post, Millennial moms can survey their entire social network. Millennials really do take advantage of their infinitely broad reference pools. They not only search product websites, but personal blogs and online reviews, which exist in turn, because Millennials actively broadcast their opinions over new media.
This creates a huge opportunity for marketers. If Millennials feel a strong connection to a brand, they can help amplify marketing messages because they're already engaged in online spaces. BzzAgent, a digital word-of-mouth marketing company, helps brands enlist ambassadors or "agents" to try products and start conversations about them across social media platforms. And in case you still question digital word-of-mouth's effect on ROI, successful case studies have measured as much as a 14.5 percent sales lift.
Despite their cautious approach to shopping, Millennials are expected to generate growth of an estimated $56 billion in CPG sales during the next decade. This group cannot be ignored. Marketers should implement digital campaigns to strengthen not only sales, but relations with consumers who aren't giving up their digital habits anytime soon. As Millennials stock the pantries of their newly established households, use value-driven messaging to create a new generation of loyal shoppers who won't be giving up your brand anytime soon, either.
Susan Viamari is editor of Times and Trends at SymphonyIRI.
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"Young woman shopping" image via Shutterstock.