Marketing with Millennial Digital Reliance

Written by 5ivecanons Staff

The Millennials were born into this world with the Internet; they are the first generation of many to come who only know life as one way – digital. In a world where the effects of traditional advertising are fading, how do marketers reach this digitally reliant generation? 

Parents often criticize Millennials for having their phones “glued to their hands” and for not knowing how to have a face-to-face conversation, but this fault and digital reliance may partly be due to those parents, and their parenting techniques. TV programs on Disney and PBS were educational and made it easy for parents to set their kids down in front of the screen, so as long as they were learning from Arthur the Aardvark or Franklin the Turtle. Computer games like Jump Start, Zoombinis, Freddi Fish and Treasure Mountain offered “epic adventures of math and logic,” and “complete success programs” for their children. Millennial kids may have been learning from these games, but it began establishing the computer-to-child relationship that replaced so many necessary parent-to-child relationships.

With the introduction of mobile computer games, such as Nintendo’s GameBoy and LeapFrog, now kids could learn anywhere. Not only did the games teach valuable knowledge, but they also distracted kids from their surroundings and kept them quiet. The games were perfect for car rides or public outings. No longer were parents doomed to endure an embarrassing restaurant dinner with their screaming child; if they started crying, they just handed them the GameBoy. Problem solved. Do we see the correlation yet? Advancements in technology offered new distractions for children, such as DVD player installments in the car. Now families could go on road trips and not to be bothered by their children at all. Digital devices were literally shoved into the hands of Millennials, and now the trend has been set for generations to come.

Digital Devices, 5ivecanons

Now reaching adulthood, Millennials are 80 million strong and spend over $1 trillion a year, making them a powerful, but hard-to-market generation. They understand the capabilities of the technology they bonded with, and they value the independence and flexibility it has given them. There is no structured, locked-in path of life for this generation. Due to economic pressures, Millennials begin work or start school at different ages, and for different time durations. There is no right time to buy a house, get married or have kids. The idea of “the conventional way of doing things” is quickly fading. Adult life is not linear for Millennials, and advertisers struggle when attempting to market to Millennials based on their no-longer structured stages of life. Instead, they need to target Millennial social groups and lifestyles.

It is already known that traditional advertising does not work as well in regards towards Millennials. It gets tuned out as noise because it is not authentic to them. Millennials communicate with each other in the digital world through social platforms, on a scale that is unmatched by any advertising campaign. Word of mouth still proves to be the most trusted form of advertising, only now those same words are coming through a digital mouth, and on a much larger scale. If it’s communities that Millennials trust, then it’s communities that brands must have and become.

Social media is never about brands. Nobody wants to be friends with a toothbrush; they want to be friends with a person. — Matt Britton, founder and CEO of MRY

The pressure is always on when the digital world is watching, ready to analyze and comment on every part of a brand. These are the authentic messages trusted by Millennial — which could prove to boost sales with positive reviews, or cause a business to crash and burn with negative experiences. Personalized customer relations must be taken seriously if brands wants to survive in the hands of Millennials.

5ivecanon’s very own “Is the Matthew’s Bridge Closed Today?” campaign is a great example of successful user engagement and personalization. Users who visited the site would get a unique answer for why the bridge was closed, which quickly turned into a viral sensation with over 200k page views. Users could also submit their own ideas for why the bridge was closed, and the best ones were added to responses for the site. Other brands are also adapting to the need for digital personalization, by creating the communities so desired by Millennials. Coca-Cola recently launched a Twitter-run animated billboard in Times Square that users engage with by Tweeting their first name with the hashtag #CokeMyName. Fun facts about the user’s name populate the billboard, and then a webcam across the street automatically snaps a photo of the billboard and Tweets it back to the user. This innovative digital ad is just an addition to their original personalized “Share a Coke” campaign.

Millennials are on top of the latest trends, and it’s up to brands to keep up with them and implement digital personalization. Users want to be engaged and feel important — we can help with that. Call us at (904) 353-2900 to set up a consultation.