How Agencies Can Engage Millennials on Their Turf

By | July 2, 2013
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Rick WestThis is a guest post from Rick West, the CEO of Field Agent, a mobile research company that crowdsources a pool of more than 240,000 agents to perform audits and collect market intelligence. Connect with Rick on Twitter and Google+.

The Millennial Generation is the “golden goose” marketers struggle to understand and engage. This generation of teens and young professionals (born between 1980 and 2000) are unlike any demographic we’ve seen before. They crave instant gratification, spend money freely (not always their own) and like to treat themselves.

To engage Millennials, it’s vital for agencies to understand a few key insights.

Millennials View Technology as a Third Arm

To Millennials, technology isn’t just a tool—it’s an extension of who they are. Young people today are never without their smartphones and tablets. They even buy waterproof cases so they can take their phones in the shower to listen to music or answer calls.

Nearly all Millennials own a cell phone of some kind, and 72% own smartphones. Teens and twenty-somethings live their lives on these devices. They communicate with friends, listen to music, check their calendars, and take photos and videos to post on social networks. To reach this demographic, it’s vital that both agency and client marketing plans have strong digital backbones.

Millennials Crave Relationships

Whether it’s with friends or their favorite brands, Millennials want to be engaged. They seek value and look for the “real deal.” Many brands run into trouble when they ask this generation to step outside their normal activities to provide feedback or share opinions. To millennials, it seems inauthentic.

Millennials would rather share feedback with their social circles on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram—which is also where they look prior to making purchasing decisions.

Traditional Research Methods Are Not Effective

As you prepare and plan client strategies, note that shopper research methods from the past are not effective at gaining insight from Millennials. For instance:

  • Online Surveys: Members of the most-stressed generation are not going to take the time for a 20-minute survey on a computer. They require smaller, bite-sized moments of engagement.
  • Phone Surveys: Most Millennials do not have landlines. Even if you do manage to access their mobile numbers, Millennials don’t usually answer phone calls from people they don’t know.
  • Focus Groups: Just the name alone could deter a Millennial from participating. That’s why many market research firms are now conducting smaller, more intimate versions and giving them unique names—like “girlfriend groups”—to encourage voluntary participation of a younger crowd that values authenticity.

Engaging people in their natural environment is the best way to capture candid responses and ensure participants are focused on the task at hand. The following platforms are especially effective when gaining shopper research information from this generation:

  • Mobile Research: Studies show that 48% of shoppers (70% in holiday seasons) use their mobile phones to shop. When asking Millennials to provide feedback on a shopping experience, there’s no better method than using mobile apps to gather information.
  • Digital Touch Screens: In stores, 54% of shoppers show they will engage with a screen while shopping. Adding in opportunities for surveys or providing digital feedback in these instances is also beneficial, as 80% of smartphone users want more mobile-optimized product information in stores.

Stop chasing Millennials and start interacting with them. By meeting Millennials where they are, providing interactive experiences, and building genuine relationships, you can engage this demographic on their own digital turf.