My 9-year-old nephew came to dinner last year with us and pulled a triangular-looking gadget from his pocket. I asked what it was and, with a dumbfounded look, he identified the object as a fidget spinner (and he may have added a “DUH” to his reply). He played with it at dinner for hours while my then 3-year-old was intrigued; I watched them multitask between the spinner and watching a YouTube video, probably about how to play with a fidget spinner. For me, the fidget spinner was the slap bracelet—the trendy fad of Millennial youths. Born in 1981, I’m proud to call myself a Millennial, though just grazing the category.
Today the Millennial population trumps all 92 million and a global spending power of US$3.3 trillion. I will repeat—$3.3 trillion. Millennials are people born between the years 1981 and 1996, making them ages 22 to 37 today. Millennials are well-educated—the most of any demographic—and have been exposed to all platforms of advertising, including print, television and digital, making them unique and very difficult to market to. Most Millennials are single and living in or very close to metro areas, making them very social, very busy and very hard to engage for long periods of time.
Characteristics of a Millennial
Millennials have some unique characteristics in the way they obtain and share information. Millennials grew up in an age when the internet exploded, and they love social media. Social media is used in every aspect of their lives, especially as a communication tool for outlets like news, information about family and friends, and purchasing. They also love engaging in lifestyle activities, whether preparing a new fantastic health dish or hiking with unbelievable views. Whatever it is, Millennials will share it, like it and it will be repeated by the next Millennial, making digital and social platforms a marketer’s dream.
When it comes to health and wellness, Millennials are lifestyle users. They use products, including health food and supplement products, to accompany their lifestyle habits. Products that match their lifestyles are extremely important, and the functionality of the product is a key component in their purchasing decisions. A Millennial will thoroughly research the product and find out the who, what, where and why of it. Can you answer these questions about your own product, and is the information readily available? Because these are the questions Millennials are digging deep to answer:
· Who is the company that makes this product, and what social responsibility efforts are they taking?
· What is this product going to do for me? Does it solve my problem? Does it solve others’ problem?
· Where is the product made? And, to go one step further, where are the materials that are in this product made?
· Why is this product made this way?
The way a product is marketed is extremely important to a Millennial, but being transparent is even more important when it comes to realizing the buying power of a Millennial.
Transparency and Storytelling
Millennials are all about transparency and storytelling, so when marketing a product to this group it is important to be clear about the product and company details. The Millennial wants to know what companies are doing on the corporate social responsibility (CSR) front. How is the company helping others and in what ways? When a company tells its social story well, a Millennial will share over social platforms, creating a domino effect within his or her community. When there is a great story to tell, the Millennial will want to tell it loud and clear and reach as many as possible. Millennials want to be the first, they want to be in the know and they want others to understand why they feel so passionate about a particular product or service.
Marketing to a Millennial through influencers is a great way to promote a product, especially in the health food and supplement space. It is beneficial to use a variety of micro-influencers to tell a brand story rather than one single macro-influencer. Storytelling becomes key when connecting the Millennial to the influencer, and using lifestyle influencers across all platforms will show the best engagement rates with the consumer. Lifestyle influencers use their everyday lives to connect the need for products and educate the consumer.
The Slap Bracelet
Once you get the hang of the slap bracelet, the rest comes easy. Be transparent; allow the consumer to understand how and why a product works, and where the materials are sourced from. Use the right influencers: have the influencers tell the brand’s story through lifestyle-like content, and match this to the product and the end user. Education through websites and social media pages using a mix of video and written content will highly engage this group. Don’t forget who the Millennial is; although Millennials have a high engagement rate for social and digital content, they are still paging through magazines and surfing for their favorite pastime TV show. Marketing to the millennial could be a little tricky because they are such a dynamic, well-educated group that uses many different platforms to educate themselves on a product. Once the pieces are in place and the bracelet fits, the Millennial will take all the pieces and tell a great story as others follow and repeat.
Looking for insights on social media marketing regulations, effective messaging or audience engagement? Join us for the Marketing Effectively & Legally via Social Media workshop on Thursday, Nov. 8, at SupplySide West 2018.
Elyse Lovett has 10 years’ experience in the food and supplement ingredient space, with past positions at AAK (AarusKarlshamn) and Novartis in marketing and sales positions. She has been with Kyowa Hakko for four years. She holds a masters of business administration in marketing and a masters of science in clinical nutrition from New York Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and nutrition from Rutgers University.