Everyone is taking about the Millennial generation. Why is that? Most likely because they are breaking the rules established by their Baby Boomer parents and predecessors and setting their own course in almost every aspect of their lives, from how they shop to how they buy to how they consume. And their attitudes about health and wellness are no exception.
Millennials are the Next Consumer Wave for Healthy Lifestyle Products
For the past decade or so, it’s been all about the Baby Boomers. And they are a dominant demographic force to be sure. But not enough attention is paid to the next up-and-coming consumers for the healthy lifestyle products we make and sell. Millennials are now the single largest global demographic segment, and these 18- to 33-year-olds are indeed out to change the world, make no mistake about that.
But herein lies the rub, as they say. Marketing health to a Baby Boomer and marketing health to a Millennial couldn’t be more different tasks; yet, as marketers, we tend to treat them the same way and approach them with similar strategies and tactics. And that’s just plain wrong.
Millennials Want and Demand Choice and Engagement
They take pride in the choices available to them and like to have options they can select from. They want products that facilitate their chosen lifestyle. Products and services need to enhance their lives and fit in with what they want to accomplish. They will not build their routine around your products. This kind of give and take relationship between brand and consumer is founded on trust, and that trust is built by marketers allowing Millennials to actively participate in and interact with the brand. They want to customize what you offer to their own needs and lifestyle. If you as a brand are not willing to open your doors to them, they will most likely not become loyal customers. It’s really that simple.
Millennials Have a Unique Relationship With Brands
They are somewhat averse to big brands. They prefer smaller niche brands that they can adopt, adapt and customize to meet their specific needs. They have been inundated with branding since they were children. They get brands. I like to say that they “see behind the marketing curtain." They also have a healthy mistrust of brands generally, and are looking for transparency and authenticity in the brands they purchase and re-purchase. Again, if you are not willing to pay that price, then Millennials may not be your ideal target.
Millennials Look at Health Differently
They are not worried about aging, or prevention or health preservation. They are more focused on living their current life to the fullest and maintaining good health to run as fast and as hard as possible now. They are also very comfortable mixing supplements, pharmaceutical drugs, functional beverages and over-the-counter (OTC) medicines to meet individual daily health and performance needs. Natural is meaningless to most of them. They prefer “authentic" to natural.
Millennials Value User-Generated Content
What matters most to them is not advertising or overt sales promotion, but rather what their friends, peers and families think about a particular product or service. They want to hear testimonials or read reviews from others they respect; they don’t want to be sold. They want to know how what you have to sell can enhance their chosen lifestyle. And they use social media outlets, websites and smartphones to access that user-generated content. It holds more weight than any other single source. If you are not incorporating user-generated content into your marketing outreach, you are passing by a significant opportunity to open a powerful channel of communication.
Millennials Are Delaying Traditional Life Changes
It’s no secret that Millennials are delaying marriage and having children a bit later in life. They have watched their parents struggle and many of them want these things eventually but just not right now. This also helps fuel their “live life to the fullest now" philosophy.
Storytelling is Key to Reaching and Persuading Millennials
No doubt you have heard this before, but communicating your product or service value proposition in story form is the most compelling way to attract a Millennial consumer. They want to know how your brand came to be, and what happens to the package after it is used up. They want to know what your company believes in and supports. They want to know the company behind the product. Prime channels for this type of engaging storytelling include both video and infographics. This demographic is plugged in at all times and wants information about your brand that they can easily access, assimilate and share with peers.
Jeff Hilton is chief marketing officer and co-founder of BrandHive (formerly Integrated Marketing Group). He has been recognized by Advertising Age as one of America's Top 100 Marketers and has 36 years of broad-based business experience, including over 20 years spent within the natural products industry. Hilton is the recipient of Nutrition Business Journal's (NBJ) Personal Service Award in recognition for his multiple outreach efforts including editorial contributions, pro-bono work and webinar and speaking engagements within the healthy lifestyles industry.
Looking for more information on Marketing to Millennials?
Jeff Hilton will speak on “Formulating and Marketing Health and Wellness Products for Millennials" as part of the Marketing Insight Summit at SupplySide West. The three-hour workshop will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 6, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Visit west.supplysideshow.com/summits.aspx for the complete agenda and to get registered.