Paris, January 10th, 2017
Millennials will reshape and change business rules in the coming years. By 2020, the millennial generation will represent more than 50 percent of the workforce, and with that comes tremendous buying power. Do you know how to market to them?
With new values, millennials present great challenges for marketers. Millennials prefer quirky, authentic and personalized brand experiences, but are skeptical of traditional marketing strategies.
Millennials are a digitally native generation, who are 100% connected. They embrace fun and peer-to-peer culture — sharing and posting personal information all the time. With an “I attitude” and “We generation” mindset, they are open to sharing their preferences of brands and products with their network. Oftentimes deviating from the rules, millennials believe in expressing themselves through creativity and imagination — creating new rules for brands. Now, more than ever, it is necessary for brands to create unique experiences that attract millennials throughout the entire customer journey.
“Don’t hesitate to be irreverent, because for millennials, there is no good taste and there is no limit to their imagination,” says Jean-Christophe Estrampes, director of strategic planning, Brandimage Paris.
When you are creating design, it’s very important to align stories about your brand or product. To get a better idea of what the millennial population is all about, we’ve conducted a study, and defined 4 ways to tap into the millennial mindset — helping to create brand experiences that appeal.
Fun: Iconic kitsch. Raised in the marketing bubble, millennials are masters of all of its codes and conventions. They reject the dictates big brands impose, instead appropriating the brands that surround them in fun and unexpected ways. It is this atmosphere that has given rise to the iconic kitsch trend — a culture of differences that pushes brands to embrace what makes them the best while being unique.
More so than older generations, millennials are joyful, kind, and caring people and embrace a fun, open-minded culture. While they express the value of love, millennials are sensitive to sharing and generosity, which they express in humorous and fanciful ways. They wish to escape from the hardness of the world and rather focus on optimism, estheticism, and sweetness; therefore brands should do the same in their positioning. With funny references and a cool attitude, brands like Maison Kitsune and Jacquemus have developed fashion stories surrounding the iconic kitsch trend. The same values apply to food and drink, where emotional claims and sweet colors are being used to attract millennial buyers.
For brands, the challenge is very simple: divert your brand codes by injecting humor into your products, advertising, and communications. Though this may be a difficult task, especially for well-known brands, becoming iconically kitsch will increase your brands’ relevance and appreciation with millennials.
Fast: Increased mobility. Millennials are always connected and they have an eye on everything. The global world, its evolutions, its cultures, its potential sources of information and engagement — everything. Today, this mobile connectedness is growing faster than ever before. As fast explorers, they are not only surfing the net but also looking for real-life adventures. They are always trying to unearth new information that will provide quick adventures and experiences. Always ready to jump on a train or a plane, their mobility is not just virtual or intellectual, but it is also physical. They embrace the “fast & go” culture, which is why Airbnb has been so successful with this generation.
Smart: Self-expressionism. Millennials are self-people. They are self-expressionists and self-learners. They are working towards becoming the hero of their own life — always showing off up on stage. Personal branding is very important, and since they are equipped with many tools that allow them to satisfy their narcissism and egos, millennials realize the Warholian prophecy: everyone needs their 15 minutes of fame.
For millennials, do-it-yourself is a way of life in which creation and artistry are paramount. Because they are a generation build upon images, millennials are applying their creativity to express their personalities. The result? There are no rules, ready-made paths, or aesthetic norms to follow. As the aesthetic directors of their own lives, they do not hesitate to accumulate and mix styles and references according to their imaginations, desires, and inspirations. Instilled with freedom of speech, they consider “good taste” an old-school value. Instead, they seek the wow factor.
Because of their unlimited and immediate access to information, millennials are no longer challenged for knowledge. For them, the challenge is in decrypting, prioritizing, and sorting out information fluxes. Today, they search for adventure and for overarching needs rather than for useful durable knowledge. Learning by experience is their credo.
“Millennials are very pragmatic,” says Estrampes, “they believe in reality and they want learning that help them combine their passions with their personal and professional lives.”
Consequently, to reach their ambitions, millennials have developed a striking weapon: flexi-mobility. They can adapt quickly to new situations, remaining flexible both intellectually and physically. Simply put: do what you say.
Strong: Pride gathering. Millennials have huge, daily experiences with new and information constantly flowing in, and they want to participate. From this reality is born the need to regain control of the real world. Hackers, content creators, and other buzz makers are becoming the new heroes of the 2.0 era. As code culture popularity has grown, groups such as Anonymous are the new defenders of laws and freedom, and Steve Jobs is the guru who paved the way.
Endowed with highly digitized habits and skills, millennials are unveiling a new culture awareness and denunciation. From Instagram to Twitter, all social networks are used to mobilize for a common cause — to denounce or defend activities or behaviors.
“Today, smart institutions and brands must organize their network to align with millennials’ participative sharing values,” says Estrampes.
Collaboration, co-working, collective, and cooperative, the tendency to gather and share amongst the Y Generation is the new way of life. Often seen as selfish and individualistic, they are more complex than we think. Beyond the advantages and confidence gained through gathering, they take pleasure in sharing their common interests and experiences. They demonstrate a willingness to come together within an extended, chosen or even ephemeral family.
Overall, the millennial generation is very reactive to what is going on around them. These trends will inspire designers and creative people in general throughout many industries, including fashion, communication, and advertising.