Imagine approaching the marketing director at any major brand across the country and asking him or her, “If you could reach one group of people in the U.S. on a consistent basis, what group would you choose?”

Likely, this manager wouldn’t have to think long before saying, “Millennials.” The conversation would continue with him or her venting frustration about this group of people born between 1980-2000, and how they are so difficult to target with traditional advertising (print, radio, and television).

A savvy brand manager knows why this marketing segment is so important.

So, with the importance of this segment confirmed, we can start to dive into the frustration some feel (warranted or not) when trying to engage millennials.

Millennials don’t trust advertising

Only 1% of millennials say a compelling advertisement would make them more likely to trust a brand. They have been taught to see advertising as a spin and inauthentic. This is why, (outside of Super Bowl Sunday), they have a tendency to skip commercials or avoid them altogether with television streaming apps like Netflix.

Millennials aren’t brand loyal

There have been a number of studies and theories surrounding millennials, claiming they, millennials, aren’t brand loyal. These theories center on a number of reasons, such as:

  • Growing up in a recession causes them to search for the best deal, regardless of brand.
  • Millennials are adventurous and enjoy the uncertainty of trying new things.
  • The group consists of unstructured shoppers who prioritize immediate needs, as opposed to stocking up, as did their Gen X counterparts.

Millennials are distracted by too many communication channels

Millennials are more distracted than any generation in history. Not only do they still have traditional radio, television, and print methods of communication to grab their attention, but now, internet streaming, online news, and peer created media, is all a part of their daily lives. Oftentimes, millennials will even focus on these things simultaneously (i.e. scrolling through Facebook while binge watching Netflix).

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How do we break through all of these distractions and become the central focus?

The answer is actually much simpler than most would think: Listen, engage, and take action.

The problem lies in the fact that marketers today are so focused on talking at millennials, that they are not actually listening to what those customers want.

While it’s true that millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, they put a great deal of stock in social proof and peer recommendations. In fact, 93% of millennials consult online reviews before making a purchase, and 41% make recommendations via social media themselves.

According to a recent Ipsos research study, millennials spend 30% of their media consumption time with content that is created by their peers, or what is known as “User Generated Content” (UGC). This number is rivaled only by the time spent with all other traditional media types combined.

This ties directly into the loyalty of these customers and how to keep them coming back.

A recent study by Elite Daily found that 62% of millennials are more loyal to brands that engage directly with customers on social media; this means, listening to what is being said online and responding, as opposed to the traditional methods of talking at them with ads and promotions. Even regular updates on Twitter and Facebook mean little if you aren’t responding to, and learning from, the feedback of your consumers. It’s also important to remember that social media is not limited to sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Millennials are also engaging brands on channels like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor, even if the brand is not engaging back.

More than ever, brand loyalty is earned. Millennials know they have thousands of options for where to spend their money right at their finger-tips, and if their needs aren’t being heard, they’ll move on.

So yes, the latest and (numerically) greatest generation is very distracted; and yes, your brand does have a lot of competition to cut through; however, the beauty of all the distracting devices in your customers’ hands, is that they offer direct links to your business. These customers know how to find you, and the only thing you have to do is pay attention when they do. So many companies are focusing on social media but forgetting a key component of the social part: Listening and Engaging.

Merchant Centric talks with businesses every day who have a very strong presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. These businesses pride themselves on being in touch with millennials, all the while they have hundreds or even thousands of unanswered reviews on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Google. 68% of millennial consumers trust peer reviews, while only 50% trust standard social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram.

Nevertheless, brands are so focused on talking at new customers, that they are ignoring those who have already come to them; and, in turn, this comes off as an inauthentic ploy to the most educated consumers in our nation’s history. Gimmicks don’t work. Listening and engaging does.

So what’s a brand manager to do?

Admittedly, it can be difficult to monitor and respond to all of your customer feedback, and finding actionable insights from this mass of review data can be even more challenging.

The key, is finding a solution that gathers the reviews from all of the top review sites (Yelp, Google, Facebook, and TripAdvisor), for all of your locations, in one place, and makes it easy and efficient to reply.

It’s important to then focus, not just on the feedback that is being repeated most frequently (what is considered loud noise); but instead, the things that are impacting your revenue. For instance, 100 people might say they wish your restaurant was bigger, but those same people still come back time and again for the best steak in the country. Then, there is another group that loves the steak, but will never come back because of slow and inattentive service. That group needs to be addressed through careful analysis and responses that are tailored to suit its needs. This shows others who see your engagement that you are receptive to the needs of your consumers and willing to do what it takes to earn their loyalty.

Ultimately, your goal should be to find an all-in-one solution that enables you to listen and engage with your customers, understand their needs, and act on what is most important in order to increase your revenue. The STARS Platform is a proven all-in-one solution used by some of the  top brands in industries like Automotive, Restaurants, Veterinarian, Retail and more.

If you are interested in a personal demo to see how STARS can help your brand, please email connie@merchantcentric.com or call (818) 665-7865.