Everyone wants to know how to reach Canada’s 9.5 million Millennials. Since Newsweek named the Boomer cohort, we’ve labeled each subsequent generation – Gen X, Millennial, Gen Z – as if age defines us. We assume that Boomers don’t know tech and Millennials can only do digital.
Generational experts are now reshaping the way we think. And new research from Canada Post reveals that life stage – not age – defines us. So, while there are similarities that bind us to our generational peers, there are differences that align us more closely with other cohorts. Take, for example, the Millennial mother who has more in common with a Gen X parent than with a Millennial still living at home.
It’s time for a reset. What are the most effective ways to reach, engage and persuade these young Canadians? Here are eight ways to reshape your conversations:
1. Get Personal
Behind every revenue stream is a real person. Play to the uniqueness of the individual, but don’t neglect to market to the collective interests of the tribe.
Luc Durand, President of Ipsos Quebec, “Millennials really want to feel like they are unique, so it’s important to communicate with them in a very personalized way. But they are also attracted to group trends, and things that will get the agreement of their peers. So you have to act in both ways—look very personalized but, at the same time, capitalize on trends that are common to the whole cohort.”
2. Be Honest
Honest, credible interactions, anchored in trust, are particularly important to Millennials. This generation of information sharers can be picky about what they pass on to peers.
Jeanette McMurtry is a global expert on consumer behaviour and psychology-based marketing strategies. She tells us, “Every generation has a totally different way of trusting brands, believing them and wanting to engage with them and, unfortunately, our younger generation has grown up very skeptical. They’ve seen a lot of scandals, they’ve heard a lot of lies.”
3. Share Values
Take time to understand where your brand values align with Millennial life stages. Then amplify the connection.
2017 Mintel research notes the socially-conscious mindset of Millennials, and suggests that drawing attention to corporate philanthropy will help brands stand out. Carol Wong-Li is Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst with Mintel. She explains, “More than ever now, people are exposed to information and they’re expecting more. They’re expecting brands to take a stand on important issues. I think this represents a really great opportunity for brands.”
4. Integrate Analog
Don’t underestimate the importance of tactile experiences. Because Millennials have grown up immersed in digital, they are attracted to the novelty of analog. Reimagined, old-school can cut through the digital clutter.
David Sax is author of The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. He warns against the assumption that Millennials only want digital, “When you look at who is driving the return of things like vinyl records, print books, paper books, new magazines, niche publications, it’s exactly that demographic of Millennials and those younger than them that are.”
5. Create Experiences
Focus on high-end, creative, innovative design to turn Millennial heads.
Nicolle Scavuzzo is VP Global Guest Recognition, CRM & Insight at Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. She talks about breaking through the digital clutter with really special, highly tactile and personalized direct mail. “Rich, glossy, thick pieces that just look different, envelopes that feel luxurious, those are places that we’re playing – but also using direct mail to surprise and delight with tangible items, with gifts.”
6. Be Relevant
Canada Post’s GENERATIONAL CONNECTIONS research teaches us that if marketers continue to speak to Millennials as a homogenous group, we’ll lose the opportunity to leverage the life triggers that propel them towards brand choices. We need to refocus on what’s relevant.
Carol Wong-Li, Senior Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst, believes that customization is noticed, and probably expected by Millennials. In Mintel’s 2018 Marketing to Millennials research, she points out, “Millennials will pay attention to marketing pieces that give them something in exchange for their attention – for example, by entertaining them or telling them something new. In terms of the actual shopping journey, customizing discounts or rewards or even suggested products will go a long way in connecting with this segment, to gain attention and generate loyalty.”
7. Combine the Best of Both
Canada Post’s GENERATIONAL CONNECTIONS research revealed that all generations use and follow promotions via both physical and digital media. Most importantly, Millennials use physical media just as much as other generations. Plus, when Millennials have children in the home, there’s a 16 per cent increase in engagement with print.
Andrew MacEachern is President of Information Packaging, Canada’s premier provider of dimensional and interactive print solutions. He tells us that a lot of clients are finding now is a perfect time for breakthrough direct mail pieces to grab attention, “Today’s marketers are wanting multi-touch campaigns where you don’t have straight digital or straight physical – there’s not just one or the other. You use a physical piece to drive to a digital experience.”
8. Focus on Lasting, Sharing, Measuring
In a world of fleeting interactions, brands need staying power. Focus on promotions that Millennials can keep and share physically or digitally, for further amplification. And, by measuring results, you can use data to understand your customers better.
Esme Hurst is a Senior Account Executive at DATA Communications Management who likes direct mail because of the metrics it offers – allowing marketers to get to know their customers better and refine their communications, “You’re able to actually capture someone using a particular promotion or promotion code, a coupon. It’s scannable, it’s grabbing a database, it enhances all of the other information you have about that customer.” And, she feels, those metrics are amplified when campaigns are integrated, “But also, in integration with other email campaigns or other types of media campaigns, you can pull that data together.”