Marketing Trends Millennials Are Killing (And why we won’t miss them)

Two millennials sit on a park bench while scrolling on their phones

Millennials catch a lot of flack. They’ve been blamed for killing entire industries (chain restaurants), foods (cereal), and pastimes (golf). As a millennial, I am not offended by these accusations since they are, by all accounts, true. And, honestly, is anyone really going to miss Applebee’s?
This generation, born after 1980, is also changing the marketing industry. The technologically savvy group has not only killed entire industries, but there are also a handful of marketing trends Millennials are killing (and we actually aren’t all that upset about it).

Brand Loyalty

Our fearless leader, Kim Bode, recently discussed millennials and brand loyalty for the Grand Rapids Business Journal. According to Kim, “Brands = corporations = distrust. Simply put, Millennials don’t give a hoot about your brand.”
Back in the day, as long as your brand stood out when the public discussed a certain product, you were golden. Like, as Kim mentions, Jif for peanut butter. We used to buy Jif because it was the first thing we thought of when we thought of peanut butter. Today, it’s different. Millennials want more than brand recognition. They want creative companies that speak to them, not at them. They want real companies with real people that their friends trust, too. They also make purchasing decisions based on other trends: environmentally friendly packaging with sustainable sources; no GMOs, gluten, or corn syrup; and, of course, selected products are ideally great fodder to a gorgeous photo on Instagram.

Focus Groups

Millennials aren’t apt to sit in a circle and talk to strangers about how they feel. They’re cynics. They don’t trust corporations. They know when they are being sold to and they know when the information they offer to someone is going to be used to sell to them. The good news? They are talking, just in a different place. They may not talk to a nameless face running a focus group, but they will talk online. They’ll leave status updates. They’ll check in at businesses and leave reviews. So, if you want to know what Millennials are thinking, just get online.

Cold Calling

Have you ever seen a Millennial pick up their phone if they didn’t know the number? Come to think of it, when was the last time you saw a Millennial talking on the phone rather than texting? The days of salespeople sitting at a desk calling number after number in order to sell their services are gone. Millennials don’t want to talk to their friends on the phone, let alone a salesperson. This is where techniques like inbound marketing and content marketing come in. Following a strategy that starts with a simple visit to a website or landing page, and works up to a call or a sale is the best way to avoid being intrusive and scaring off the elusive millennial.  

Interruptive Ads

This term refers to any ad that plays in the middle of a show, video, music or in the middle of a website. And, while Millennials can’t be completely blamed for the slow death of this obnoxious form of advertising, no one of any age really likes commercials. They know the services they can buy to avoid ads, they know how to skip them or speed through them online, and if they are shown too many ads, they will simply cancel that service. 63 percent of Millennials are more trusting of content that they discover on their own, versus content that’s delivered to them through advertising. They don’t want to be shown ads, they want to search for the content that is relevant to their lives.

What They Do Respond To

Let’s face it, most of us aren’t going to miss the above marketing techniques. But, the death of traditional advertising means that companies need to find new and innovative ways to reach a generation that knows all its tricks. So, here are a few things Millennials do respond to:

  • Their Friends (reviews, social media chatter)
  • Blogs (by real people that put a face to a company)
  • Authentic Content (they want genuine ideas and thoughts)
  • Creativity (they’ve already seen a lot, do something new)
  • Their Peers (they don’t care what older generations think)

If you still have questions on how to target millennials, or if you just want to lament the slow exit of cereal for avocado toast, we are here to talk. Give us a call or reach out, because we’ll miss Captain Crunch, too.
Written by: Allison Spooner, Content Associate

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