Creative is King When Targeting Millennials
Raised in the technology age (since the early 80s), Millennials have only known life with scores of cable channels, remote controls, and video games. In addition to these conveniences, younger Millennials can’t even imagine life without the Internet, text messaging, social media and entertainment on demand. As my 8 year-old son often asks, “Daddy, what did you do without TV, games, and the Internet?” (“We played outside with others, son!”)
Why should we care? Because Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are one of today’s most valued segments to most marketers, with the size of this generation eclipsing that of the Baby Boomers. It is no surprise, therefore, that this is a highly competitive segment for marketers and that strong battles ensue to secure trial, loyalty and advocacy among Millennials.
While a wealth of research exists on the best way to reach Millennials through their preferred technologies and media consumption channels, scant research has offered insight into the varying responses to brand messages among this coveted group. Millennials are an interesting bunch. They are often hypothesized to be more impatient, more easily irritated, and have shorter attention spans, all of which adds up to a particularly challenging and often elusive marketing segment.
In order to address these hypotheses and provide marketers with direct insight on marketing to varying generations, comScore is currently conducting an extensive, cross-category study of thousands of ad campaigns targeting Females. The full research analyzes the differences in behavior of Female Millennials (age
Preliminary results of our study appear to clarify and support many of the common notions. When compared to Female Baby Boomers and Female Seniors, the results showed Female Millennials to be less interested and more difficult to connect with, capture attention, impress, convince, and entertain. They also appear to be more price-sensitive, perhaps due to lower disposable incomes. On the positive side, there is strong opportunity for marketers to connect with Millennials as they are more likely to have a lot in common with other users. Below is an illustration of some preliminary findings from our study across thousands of ads, indicating the percentage of respondents agreeing (based on top 2 boxes) with the statements at the left:
So what does this mean for marketers? As with any advertising, effectiveness is achieved when sound strategy meets strong creative execution. While more insights are expected to emerge from our study, below are some simple strategies to help successfully market to Millennials:
- Define Your Target Segment: Focus on understanding your particular segment of Millennials and communicate directly to them. Don’t assume it’s a ‘one size fits all’
- Communicate Authentically: Millennials are less trusting of marketing, so it’s important to speak their language. They prefer being engaged over being force-fed marketing messages, so work to identify the best ways to connect with them – even if it means relinquishing some control over your message.
- Don’t Appeal to the Lowest Common Denominator: If you want your message to have real resonance with Millennials, you’re going to have to be comfortable with your message not connecting with some people. But it will pay off with the consumers that you do reach. Of course, improved targeting will help in this regard.
- Be Different: Millennials live in a highly cluttered media environment and tune out the mundane, so even if your message is appropriate for the audience, it will be overlooked if it’s similar to messages they’ve already heard.
Ignoring the importance of creative when targeting Millennials can be a recipe for disaster. comScore data show that half of a campaign’s impact on sales is due to the creative strength. Consistent success requires that similar rigor and attention as is applied to reaching different brand targets must be applied in understanding necessary creative drivers.
Unfortunately, rather than working to understand unique generational differences or working hard to develop a differentiated value proposition for Millennials, too many marketers today often focus on broad product features and/or pin their hopes for success on offbeat humor or a celebrity in the rush to meet deadlines. While there is no guaranteed formula for successful cross-media advertising, there are best practices, processes, and emerging knowledge that can help steer success. And the more you, as a marketer, truly understand your Millennial segment and what is needed to achieve break-through with this notoriously tough audience, the better success you’ll be able to achieve.
Stay tuned for more insights from our study of Millennials. In the meantime, if you’d like to discuss our cross-media message testing/tracking/optimization solutions, please reach out.