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Date: January 2019

Opinion: Going beyond branding - what millennials expect from brands

Opinion: Going beyond branding - what millennials expect from brands

The author urges brands to majorly focus on three mantras while marketing to millennials

Do you remember a time when smartphones and the internet were not commonplace? When checking your social media was not the first thing you did right after waking up. Unboxing your latest purchase was not something you would share with your social media following; or when the ethical values of a brand were insignificant compared to the discounts offered.- If your answer is yes for one or more of these questions, then you truly belong to the demographic cohort termed as Gen Y, or more popularly ‘millennials’.

Known as one of the most dynamic demography, millennials are accustomed to a world that changes and innovates every minute, and this includes upcoming brands, soaring start-ups, tossing out obsolete products and services. Data says that millennials make up almost 30 per cent of the world’s population and almost a quarter of America’s population. This population group is projected to have a spending power of close to USD 1.5 trillion every year by 2020 Such statistics have led to millennials being recognised as one of the most important consumer demographics today.

Therefore, it is important for brands to win over this demography’s attention and interest to ensure there is constant engagement with the customers.

Three mantras to brand loyalty

Shaped by technology, and incessantly connected to the outside world through social media, this generation is well aware of its surroundings, and has an opinion on everything. This makes it even more important for brands to have an image and reputation of being consumer-friendly and deliver enhanced experiences, always be the customer’s first choice and ensure loyalty from the millennial population. Brands need to majorly focus on these three mantras: reinvent regularly, stay digital, and deliver experiences and not simply products or services.

a) Change is the only constant
Owing to the ever-changing world around, millennials are on the constant lookout for change, experimentation, and new experiences. Brands need to stay two steps ahead of the current trends to be able to act upon expected demand and change the interests. Reinventing products and services in addition to regularly changing the promotion methods would help a brand in retaining customers as well as attracting more eyeballs.

During the course of change or reinvention, the end consumer should always be the centre of an idea or the promotional process as this keeps them involved and hence, more loyal. A great example of this is Apple’s ‘Shot on Iphone’ campaign that brought out the brilliance of Apple’s cameras while making consumers feel included.

b) Expand your digital footprint
Millennials are constantly hooked to screens viz phones, tablets or laptops, and because of this, it is very important for brands to expand their presence on digital platforms of all kinds. The only way brands and products can interact with its customer base today is through social media. Hence, it becomes very essential for brands to constantly put out new and creative messages out on digital platforms that make the consumers connect to the brand. As people, millennials are very cause-oriented, vocal and open-minded, and they expect their brands to also be the same. A great example of staying relevant while gathering eyeballs on social media was the recent Section 377 verdict and how some brands expressed their support with exceptional ideas.

c) Valuable experiences win over product offerings
Driven by instant gratification, millennials scout for quick solutions to their everyday problems. Can’t cook today? – Swiggy or Dunzo it. Broke at the end of the month? – Borrow it from a P2P lender like a Faircent or Lendbox. Setting up a start-up and can’t afford a fancy office? – Work out of a WeWork office.

These are evidences of how today’s consumers don’t fret much about only using established brands. For them, it is the experience that counts. With the help of an AI algorithm that picks up trends, brands can create customised experiences and offer personalised solutions to each customer. This is a tried and tested method to ensure brand loyalty and some of the best examples of brands that are implementing this are Amazon, Spotify, Netflix, and Expedia.

Today, we see new brands rising and falling almost every day, and to stay relevant, it is integral for brands to respond to the winds of change. To be able to connect with millennials, brands need to focus on their experiences and needs. The way millennials perceive and react towards brands and products is constantly changing and it is essential for brands to seep in their message in their target audience’s subconscious mind effectively. While keeping their core identity intact, brands need to embrace newer technologies and market trends, which will eventually lead to higher visibility and liking among its target consumers – the millennials.

(The author is lead designer, branding and graphics at Tata Elxsi)