Brief Buzz: Decoding the Millennial mindset - Kaizad Pardiwalla
In this article of Brief Buzz, Kaizad Pardiwalla, President, Jack in the Box Worldwide, decodes the mindset of the Millennials and provides insights on understanding them better, especially for marketers.
Whenever we are faced with something new or different, we either tend to put it down thinking we know better and carry on with our old ways or shy away from it because we don’t ‘get it’. We can’t do either with the Millennials. The Millennials are different than the older generations because they grew up in an ocean of choice and options for just about everything they ever needed or wanted. Because of this, their world view is very different. They don’t see just see one path in front them, they see a world of limitless possibilities to make their life their own. That difference in mindset (from the older generation) leads to them being misjudged and misunderstood – called narcissists or assumed to be in a state of perpetual childhood, not taking life seriously. The reality is the options available today weren’t available in the past and today they have a lot of options to make their life a success. This distinct shift in mindset is what we as marketers need to understand and adapt to.
So what’s behind this selfie generation? What makes the Millennials tick and how can we as marketers adapt ourselves connect better with this generation that has a significant impact on business. The Millennials are not only driving change in our culture but also forcing marketers to re-think their marketing approach to better suit this evolving generation.
Below are some insights which help understand them better.
1. Digital Natives – Millennials are more on mobile devices than they are on TV. This is a generation that is more comfortable online than offline. WhatsApp, Facebook, etc., is a constant thread as opposed to mass mediums. Marketers, therefore, need to treat it as something just as intrinsic in their marketing plan. A lot of their decisions regarding which brands to consume and engage with are taken post their digital experience or that of someone they know or trust. Also, while their interactions with brands are cross-channel and cross-media they almost always have a strong digital influence. Thus, it is imperative for marketers today to create strategies with digital its core.
2. Contrary to popular opinion, I believe Millennials are more receptive to advertising. However, they are buying into the values and beliefs of a brand versus the products. They want to know what your brand stands for and not what it offers. It is important for companies and brands to put themselves ‘out there’ and build genuine reputations. The Millennials want to know what drives your company and brand, what are your values and beliefs and what you as a brand does for the betterment of society at large. And it’s only those brands that vibe with their own sense of being and their value systems that they truly engage with. Finding this reason to exist and creating avenues for consumers to be part of this value creation is important for marketers in engaging with these audiences.
3. The need for a deeper relationship with our audience means it can’t be only about the brand message and offerings but a deeper connect through content that is honest and relevant. The Millennials don’t want to be sold to brands. The relationship and relevance need to be built through online community conversations, social media and advocacy programs. The brand needs to be able to constantly put up content that reflects itself and around issues and topics that are important to its audience. That’s how deeper connections are built.
4. The Millennials are an 'Always On' generation and they want everything NOW! They put a premium on speed, ease, efficiency and convenience. They expect brands to move with them at their pace and be able to cater to their way of living. Are we there yet? Do we have an 'always on' digital strategy in place to be able to cater to the millennial way of thinking and living? If digital isn’t at the core of the marketer’s strategy, the brand will never truly be able to justify its existence to this audience.
5. Millennials buy into expert advice. The only difference is that their definition of an expert is different. It’s not necessarily someone who has studied the subject for a long time and has great knowledge in that field. For them, experts are those who have first-hand knowledge of the product. That could be a peer, a close friend or even a stranger as long as it’s not a corporation. Crowdsourcing has become quite popular and messages/user reviews that resonate have a way of gaining traction by posting and re-posting onto multiple forums which in turn defines the popular perception of a brand in the online space. Brands need to have an influencer strategy in place and need to participate in these online forums to listen to and drive positive brand perception.
For any brand to thrive today, it is important to understand the millennial mindset, create a brand world and content that is honest and relevant to them and work towards meeting their expectations in a digital world that are somewhat alien, but becoming increasingly mainstream.