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Marketing to Millennials: Finding the Hidden Opportunities

by: Katie Devlin (@IAmKatieDevs)
22 July 2016

I just wrapped up hosting a podcast called “Marketing to Millennials” with Samantha Klein (@samjoyk), a colleague of mine, and Wes Gay (@wesgay), a millennial consultant who is helping shape and guide leaders. With all three of us being millennials (those aged 19 to 35 years old in 2016), we covered a variety of topics, including some great things Chik-Fil-A is doing to accommodate time-crunched, millennial mothers and how companies like Le Tote virtually “shop” their members’ Instagram and Facebook pages to get a sense of their fashion style so they can provide more personalized clothing choices.

But beyond retail and food, what other industries are catering their marketing efforts to the millennial generation? And are there hidden opportunities for success with this group?

How Many Stamps Do You Have?

While many millennials would rather spend their money on a vacation than put down 20 percent on a long-term investment like a home, five-star hotels and all-inclusive Caribbean adventures aren’t exactly on the itinerary. Douglas Quinby, vice president of research at Phocuswright, says this is the largest generation of travelers and "they want different things from their travel experience," including communal spaces, digital connectivity, local design touches and, of course, Wi-Fi.

Marriott International recently launched Moxy – a mid-price boutique hotel – with four locations now open and more set to open throughout 2016 and into next year across the globe. The first Moxy location, located in Milan, promotes itself this way: “You’ll get all of the bang without breaking the bank.”

Earlier this year, I stayed at a boutique hotel chain in Atlanta, Ga. After checking in, I received a text message before even stepping into the elevator heading up to my room. The message thanked me for staying at the hotel and instructed me to text the same number if I needed anything. As a millennial, this “service on demand” guest experience is right up my alley and even came in handy when I got to my room and couldn’t call to order room service.

But it’s not about lounging poolside or checking into the same place where the Kardashians vacationed last. For millennials, it’s about the experience. A study by Topdeck Travel says my generation is no longer seeking a party-animal atmosphere when traveling. Instead, according to the research, we want to fully immerse ourselves into new cultures and feast on local cuisine. This holds true for my own vacation preferences — my dream trip includes spending the day caring for an elephant in Thailand. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Cash or Check?

Listen up, bankers! Less than half of millennials (46 percent) see themselves staying with their current financial services companies over the next few years, and about half of affluent millennials (48 percent) say they’re open to switching to another company offering better products and services.

Having just recently closed my checking and banking account with a small credit union due to multiple fraudulent activity events within a year, I opted to switch to Bank of America. Knowing this was a popular institute around the globe, I thought the switch would prove more convenient and beneficial for managing my finances. It’s no secret that switching banks comes with a laundry list of to-do’s that tested my five-second attention span numerous times, but I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the days of filling out a form and money envelope for deposits were over.

Recently graduated millennials are consumed with student loan debt and lack the awareness around the risk and implications of being financially smart as they enter the real world. Banks like Fidelity are helping grads get a head start with a program called, Master Your Money, with classes held on college campuses. The program is designed to help millennials make smart choices with money and build a solid foundation for the future.

Can You Pass the Remote?

I’m also writing this post having just finished binge-watching Season 4 of “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix. Dubbed the “instant gratification” demographic, millennials are quickly cancelling their local cable subscriptions and turning to cheaper, more easily accessible options like Netflix and Hulu. According to Nielsen, 78 percent of millennials have subscription-based video-on-demand (SVOD) services, where we enjoy less commercials and a wide range of programming options.

This environment has led companies like Time Warner Cable to make plans to cut back on commercials with the hope of luring millennials back to cable TV.

The ability to access Netflix and Hulu at any time, and on any device, makes it an easy switch for the always-connected millennial.

Wrapping It Up

No matter what the industry may be, there will always be a push to adapt and improve marketing tactics to keep up with customer expectations. Whether you’re Taco Bell designing a Snapchat filter for the biggest taco holiday of the year or Chubbies driving a line of men’s swimwear using Facebook and Instagram, always make sure that the marketing fits the audience.

To hear more about Marketing to Millennials and join the Podcast entertainment that Sam, Wes and myself engaged in, listen to the full conversation here:

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