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Did you know millennials now outnumber baby boomers and have become the largest generation in the U.S., representing more than a quarter of the nation’s population? Not to mention, we (yes, I am a millennial) are considered to be the most diverse and unique generation in terms of social, economic and demographic trends.

These statistics have marketers all across the country attempting to figure out the best messaging to grab our attention and collect our money.

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So, how do you get our attention? How do you create messaging that millennial shoppers will actually consume and enjoy enough to consider making a purchase from your organization?

Trust me, I wish I had the silver bullet, but, I don’t. Although, I know a good place to start — create authentic content.

I know it sounds very “buzzwordy” and like a cop out, but I can’t stress it enough.

Why Do Millennials Value Authenticity?

Because traditional methods of advertising are so easy to block out. Don’t think of it as “millennials want authenticity from a brand.”

Instead, we won’t engage with anything else.

We don’t want it. We’re not seeking out brands who are authentic and interesting so we have a place to spend our free time. Not at all. We just won’t listen to your message if it feels like an advertisement. 

I know it seems tough, but you can’t try to sell to us. Or at least don’t be obvious about it. I know that sounds coy, but there is some substance there. We don’t like advertising — especially commercials. Instead, tell us stories or show us videos (we sort of love videos).

For example, check out this video where a chalkboard with the question “What’s your biggest regret?” was placed on a random street in New York City. 

This video was shared everywhere via social media and I happened to stumble upon it. I was incredibly engaged and emotionally inspired for the entirety of the video.

Then, all of a sudden, the creator/sponsor/advertiser of the video was revealed for a brief moment at the end — Strayer University. I didn’t feel cheated or manipulated at the end when they told me to visit their website to learn more. I didn’t feel like it was all a rouse. I felt inspired. I felt invested. And, I subscribed.

The way for brands to build loyalty with millennial shoppers is to strive to behave more like people. Introducing elements of humanity within your brand messaging is absolutely paramount to connect with us.

And once you connect with us, that doesn’t mean you can switch back to traditional advertising and sell to us. You didn’t catch us in your web after one authentic and interesting message. You peaked our interest — now keep it up and hope we keep that feeling towards you.

Create an Experience We Can Be a Part of

Do you know what I love most about that video I shared above? You’ll probably be able to guess based on my headline… I felt like I was a part of the story. I thought to myself: “Huh, I wonder what my biggest regret is?” Isn’t that amazing!? As marketers, we have to be excited about that type of reaction from our audience.

Encourage us to be a part of your story and let millennials do the work for you. I’m not going to share a commercial to everybody in my network via social media. But I did immediately share this Dove Real Beauty Sketches video because I think it’s beautifully done and I wanted to spread the story in hopes to make someone feel beautiful. And in that moment, Dove created and experience that I wanted to be a part of.

What Else?

Here are a few other things to consider when targeting millennial shoppers. I think they tie into the idea of being authentic and interesting, but I also feel like they’re too important to assume you’ll draw the connection on your own.

Be transparent. Do your best to be honest with us. If the food you serve isn’t healthy, don’t tell us it’s nutritious! We will respect you for that. If you aren’t blatantly honest, millennial shoppers will quickly become frustrated.

Have a mission. Millennial shoppers love to buy from organizations that have a mission to help the world. It’s not a necessity, more of a nice-to-have if I’m being honest. And it doesn’t have to be about saving the world, just let us know that you’re doing your part and that you care.

Showcase that you have fun. We are attracted to brands that have fun. Show us that; prove to us that you’re a fun organization to work for, that your employees love what they do and that you love the way your products or services help people’s lives.

Fix you user experience. Make it easy for us to interact with your business online and even easier to make online purchases when we’re ready. And I’m not just talking about mobile friendly websites, that’s obvious. I’m talking about the online experience as a whole. You work so damn hard to grab our attention and peak our interest, it’s a shame that so many of you lose our business because of a lousy UX. If that’s something your website struggles with, you need to make it a priority.

I hope you found this content authentic and useful.

Storytelling for Businesses