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Social media has changed the way millennials view restaurants. Their eating habits and dining choices are predominantly determined by what they have seen posted all over Instagram. Nowadays, the number 1 motive for choosing a particular dining venue hinges on their ability to capture an ‘instagrammable’ #foodporn moment.
Sharing with like-minded millennials
It is not unusual to visit a restaurant and witness 90% of millennial diners whipping their phones out when their meal arrives to craft the perfect photo. Alongside a carefully constructed caption and the appropriate filter, the photo is then posted to Instagram and shared with the world. Like-minded foodies on the hunt for great places to eat will search the hashtags #foodporn #food and #foodies to seek out recommended dining venues that suit their tastes and have a trendy Insta-worthy vibe.
Craving new experiences It is common knowledge that millennials have entirely different habits to previous generations. Spending less money on materialistic items, millennials are more interested in seeking experiences. This is no different when it comes to deciding which food joint they should dine at. Research by UK restaurant chain Zizzi claims that millennials spend five full days a year browsing Instagrammed photos of food. As a result, 30% would be less likely to visit a restaurant with a weak Instagram presence. For eateries not on the Insta bandwagon, this lack of social engagement can negatively affect your business.
Becoming Instagram worthy For food joints wanting to transform themselves into an Instagrammable experience, there are many things to consider and good tasting food is not the only priority. Millennials are inspired by diverse surroundings - adding quirky props, bright colours and unique decor will attract millennial diners who require an original background to frame their food. This also gives the restaurant a unique brand identity that customers can recognise as more photos are shared on Instagram. Next is presentation. Plating up food in a creative style is much more attractive to the Insta audience. By enabling strong visuals, this adds to the diner’s overall culinary experience, prompting positive word of mouth through social media.
The Carter restaurant in Sydney is a recent example of a food venue that has built its brand identity to resonate with trendy millennials. With hip hop themed food names and artwork containing hidden messages, the restaurant is an Instagrammer’s dream. Food lovers will soon be able to recognise The Carter’s style from the photos swarming on Instagram. Paying a particular tribute to controversial stars Beyonce and Jay Z, The Carter displays originality and character, something that millennials will not want to miss out on. And that is what why Insagram word of mouth is one of the most essential marketing tools right now.
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Just when we thought we were getting to grips with the elusive millennial market, a new generation is about to come crashing into the consumer marketplace. And guess what? They are even more diverse, powerful and digitally grounded.
Marketers should always be one step ahead. Right now, millennials are at the forefront of brand marketing strategies as the most influential generation so far. Focused on gaining and retaining their attention, marketers are overlooking Generation Z, i.e. the siblings of millennials.
Gen Z’s are emerging
Typically defined as those aged 20 and under, Generation Z are hot on the heels of their brothers and sisters when it comes to making purchasing decisions. In just 3 years, their global population is predicted to reach 2.56 billion and they already have access to $44 billion in buying power a year. If brands don’t start connecting with this generation, they will lose out on a highly untapped market of powerful consumers.
How do they differ from millennials?
Generation Z are not just mini-millennials. Their upbringing, beliefs and desires are very different to their millennial role models.
As the first generation to be born into an entirely digital era, Gen Z’s are better multi-taskers but have a lower attention span, thanks to the number of devices they flick through on an hourly basis. They are more entrepreneurial than millennials, craving the knowledge and independence to do things themselves rather than relying on others. They also have higher expectations than millennials – they take digital communication as a given and expect brands to appreciate them. If not, they will move on and take their loyalties elsewhere.
Appealing to the Gen Z market
First and foremost, marketers need to penetrate the endless supply of content Gen Z’s see on a daily basis. With only an 8 second attention span, they need to know what the content is about, why they should care and how it will benefit them.
Secondly, marketers need to be more versatile with their social media platforms. This generation aren’t big Facebook users, preferring more personal connections on apps such as Snapchat and Vine. According to Gen Z expert Travis Wright, brands need to become part of the Gen Z community rather than just trying to sell. They should organically integrate themselves within the social platforms favoured by Gen Z users, always striving to inspire and influence them.
As an independent and ambitious generation, brands need to play a more supportive role as opposed to being leaders. Generation Z embrace challenges and want to create their own individual identities. Brand messages must shift from ‘we can get you there’ to ‘we can help you get there yourself.’
Providing long-term support
Generation Z are only in their teens. But this doesn’t stop their drive and determination to succeed. Brands that recognise and support these ambitions are likely to win over the hearts of Gen Z and be rewarded with loyalty and genuine social endorsement. Make your impression on these teenagers now and start building relationships that will soon extend to their purchasing decisions.
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In today’s saturated market, millennials have unlimited choices when it comes to purchasing decisions. Brands are struggling to retain this highly influential band of consumers as they have not implemented effective multi-channel strategies that resonate with millennials. To establish customer loyalty, brands need to abandon the ‘one size fits all’ approach and connect with millennials individually and personally.
Deliver an emotional impact
Motivated by experiences, sharing, diversity and happiness, millennials have a strong sense of purpose and actively connect with brands that give them something to believe in and act on. Brands that openly share their values will drive deeper emotional connections with millennial consumers who also possess those same values. The ability to express themselves through your brand will gain and maintain their loyalty. Having sustainable products is a good start – millennials are big believers in going green and support industries that are environmentally-friendly.
Encourage social testimony
Millennials tend to seek advice from friends and family that have tried and tested a product or service. Outside of this inner-circle, millennials will consult ‘real’ reviews online, particularly through social media and industry apps. As the new word-of-mouth marketing, social media is the generator of customer engagement, reactions and recommendations. Brands that increase their social media presence are more likely to gain organic social proof from millennials, motivating other potential customers to follow suit.
Interact with your audience
Customer journeys are no longer one-way; brands must adopt a strategy that incorporates a personalised communication with their consumer base. Use social media as an interaction tool as opposed to a commercial marketing scheme. Convey authenticity and this will positively boost your brand among millennial consumers. Ensure that customers can rate your products or services on your social pages and provide personal feedback acknowledging people’s reviews (both the positive and negative)!
Incorporate experiences into your strategy
Millennials are known for being the generation that have decreased value for ownership of material goods. They thrive on experiences as a way to connect with brands and likeminded communities, sharing the content online and fuelling their social lifestyle. An expensive option, there are ways for businesses to still take advantage of experiences without actually having to organise an event. Promote your products as enhancements for experiences through your multiple social media channels and you will be welcomed by millennial consumers.
Millennials can be a difficult generation to please and competing for their attention is only the first step in securing their loyalty. It has never been more important to stand out among similar brands and build relationships with your millennial consumers. Work on earning their trust and respect and they will repay you in loyalty.
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Compared to generations above them, millennials have a very different outlook on alcohol consumption in social situations. With a stronger focus on employment, health and saving money, sober socialising is the new trend embraced by mindful millennials.
Reducing alcohol intake
The 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey reported that millennials were consuming less alcohol than previous generations with many opting to abstain from alcohol or drink at low-risk levels. For those engaging in sober socialising, the reasons appear to revolve around maintaining their physical and mental health as opposed to removing alcohol due to drink problems.
The millennial approach to sobriety
In a society that constantly promotes wellbeing, mindfulness and trendy health foods millennials are pressured to maintain a nutritious and healthy diet. Giving up alcohol is simply an extension of clean eating.
Millennials are less-inclined to socialise in bars or attend house parties thanks to the ease in which they can now communicate in group chats, predominantly via their smartphones. This saves time and money, hence reducing social drinking as conversation is initiated through text, also allowing for multi-tasking which is vital for active millennials.
As a career-focused generation, millennials follow the motto “Work Hard, Play Later". Keen to progress in the workplace and make good impressions, they spend more time prepping for work than lingering for last orders.
Social media influencing decisions
Millennials are permanently active on social media, forever updating their peers on their current activities, often through photo-sharing apps like Snapchat and Instagram. Healthy living is an intrinsic part of their identity and millennials waste no time authenticating this sober lifestyle through their social identities. Ranging from tasteful granola bowls and super smoothies to new sports apparel and a map of their 10k run, tracked using their fitness app.
According to a report by Heineken, self-awareness and staying in control are the main incentives for millennials consuming less alcohol on nights out. The impact that a drunk photo could have on their carefully constructed online identities is enough of a reason to remain sober.
Millennials alternative to alcohol-fuelled nights out
This generation want more for their money – spending their hard-earned cash at the same bar every weekend is not their style. Instead, millennials are attracted to experiences, something memorable and diverse such as pop-up restaurants, cookery classes and mini concerts. Linking back to social identities, millennials want to share these experiences on their social platforms, continually evidencing their sophisticated social lifestyle.
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Similar to millennials, Generation Z are fixated with technology, growing up in a fully digital era, ever-connected to their peers through social media. It makes sense for brands wanting to engage with Gen Z consumers to build their online presence, utilising social sites used most often by this generation.
Bridging the ‘attention span’ gap
Known for their increasingly low concentration, Gen Z’s avoid advertising by instinctively reverting their attention to a different device. Alternating between five devices (smart phone, TV, laptop, tablet and desktop) traditional forms of advertising will make no impact on this group of users who do not have time to sit through a 15 second YouTube ad. Rather than focusing on one-way messages, brands should aim to collaborate with this generation through their preferred social media channels. One of the main reasons they are attracted to these platforms is to connect with their friends and the wider online community – your brand should become an integrated part of that community.
Appealing to identity seekers
Generation Z see social media as a tool that helps shape their individual identities and express themselves. They feel pressured to not only fit in but to also distinguish themselves in a professional manner. Brands should strive to inspire and influence this audience, providing them the necessary tools to manage their personal and professional identities.
Social Media usage
Compared to millennials, Generation Z prefer to use social media as a more private broadcasting tool, consciously choosing the stories they want to share with specific people on a particular channel.
Facebook is less favoured with Gen Z than previous generations, with a reported 25% of 13-17 year olds deactivating their Facebook accounts in 2015. Originally the key platform for engaging with users, Generation Z consider Facebook as more of an information hub.
Snapchat is an essential app for the typical Gen Zer, with more than half of users saying they would feel cut off from friends without the platform. As well as sharing images with friends, Gen Z show high levels of interest in the featured content, ranging from real-life stories, behind the scenes and how-to videos. Brands should utilise Snapchat for storytelling, delivering interesting and engaging content and connecting with Gen Z in a meaningful way.
With a staggering 88% of Generation Z using Instagram on a regular basis, brands have huge potential to connect with this influential audience on this popular platform. Similar to Snapchat, drive brand awareness by optimising Instagram stories. Also consider partnering with an influencer popular within the Gen Z age-group – not only will they endorse your brand but teens will associate your product/service with their needs.
Embrace the Gen Z mindset
As an independent age-group striving to find their own identities in a digital world, it is crucial for brands to understand the tensions they face and fuel their ambitions and desires. Providing platform-tailored content will encourage digital conversation and help you to build strong Gen Z connections.
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Millennials are a difficult generation to engage with. With notably low attention spans, traditional methods of advertising aren’t making an impression. Even digital marketing is starting to lose their interest; with so much online advertising, they are bombarded with messages on an hourly basis and are becoming apathetic to it.
As the most influential generation of consumers, brands need to focus on a personalised approach to create affinity with millennials. An effective way of capturing this is through event experiences.
Also known as experiential marketing, these events provide consumers with a memorable experience, something they can personally interact with. Millennials are spending an increasing amount of time and money on events, inspiring brands to follow suit.
A recent survey of consumers found that 72% positively identify with brands that provide quality event opportunities and experiences. Furthermore, 74% said they would be more likely to purchase the promoted products after engaging in an event experience.
The benefit of this approach is that brands form authentic relationships with their audience, generating a natural purchasing process.
Pepsi are a recent example of a brand who cracked this concept. In June, they tapped into experiential marketing to promote their new product Pepsi Max Vanilla.
With an aim to drive awareness and connect further with their key demographic, Pepsi hosted ‘The Vanilla Kitchen’ – a pop-up dining concept in the heart of Sydney. Teaming up with some of Australia’s most renowned culinary talent, guests were treated to a vanilla-inspired menu, which subliminally referenced the latest Pepsi product.
With more than 700 visitors over three days, the event was particularly attractive to millennials that are shifting their budgets and seeking authentic experiences. And for those that still wanted to be a part of the event without actually attending? The Vanilla Kitchen partnered with Deliveroo who delivered meals to people’s homes along with free samples of Pepsi Max Vanilla.
There are many other success stories out there; this is a continuous trend that shows no signs of stopping. Millennials are craving experiences and interactions. From a digital perspective, brands are still getting the online exposure as millennials attending events will share their experience on social media. This establishes a genuine and organic relationship between brand and consumer, encouraging interaction and increasing brand awareness.
So what should brands do if they want to incorporate experiential marketing into their campaign strategy? First of all, listen to your audience and focus on their desires and needs. Millennials want experiences that will build lasting memories and help shape their identity. Secondly, give millennials something to talk about – in a society where life events are continually shared online, the fear of missing out motivates millennials to attend and get involved.
And finally, don’t be afraid to get creative – 80% of millennials want brands to entertain them. Embrace experiential marketing and start building customised relationships with millennials. They are the future in Australia. All 5.7 million of them.
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Millennials are one of marketing’s biggest challenges – for professionals and brands alike – and as such, they require a multi-faceted marketing strategy to reach and retain their engagement.
Here are four tips for improving your marketing strategies for Generation Y:
1. Do not treat all Millennials the same
Millennials are not a homogenous group. Like each generation that came before them, Millennials have a host of unique characteristics that make them incredibly challenging to target. Adopting any strategy that’s too general will never work. Where possible, brands must narrow their engagement by targeting highly specific niche audiences.
One way to overcome this hurdle is to target Millennials based on social groups as opposed to life stages. Would you treat an 18-year-old student in the same way as a 29-year-old mother? Social listening allows you to understand the nuances of your particular Millennial audience as a distinct segment from the Millennial generation as a whole.
2. Millennials have ubiquitous access to technology
We all know that Millennials are the most digitally connected generation ever. Every day, they consume huge volumes of content, and purchase a diverse range of goods and services across multiple channels. Most will use two to three devices at least once a day, so you must adopt a multi-platform marketing strategy. It is crucial that your brand experience is seamless across every outlet – being mobile-friendly is key.
To really capture Millennials, look at ways they can effectively move across each platform with ease. For example, order online for collection in store. Seventy-three percent of Millennials report that they make purchases directly on their smartphones. Don’t get left behind!
3. Be authentic and embrace two-way dialogue
Millennials are three times more likely than any other generation to turn to social media for opinions on products to buy. However, Millennials are selective in whom they trust. It’s not new news that they trust content and recommendations from their peers over brands, celebrities or governments, so what are you doing as a brand to prompt an open and honest dialogue with Millennials?
Marketers should embrace the good, the bad and the ugly to really capture the attention of current and prospective Millennial consumers.
But this is only half the answer – you must then engage! Sixty-two per cent of Millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer. They expect brands to not only be on social networks, but to be responsive as well. Engagement is no longer optional or nice to have – acknowledgement is expected and it is blatantly obvious if you choose to ignore them. Remember, Millennials are the most connected generation ever, and word spreads quickly.
4. Content is how they connect
Millennials binge on content every day, and it’s also what they use to connect with friends. This can be through social media sharing, discussions in the workplace or even consuming content together with friends or family. It’s almost like what they’re watching has become the new fuel of social interaction. The challenge for brands is finding a creative way to appeal to Millennial consumers and empowering them to share the brand’s story across these platforms.
If you are looking to develop content, ensure you stick to the golden rules of inform, entertain, or provide value. Sales, conversion, and clicks should always be a secondary consideration.
It is also worth noting the importance of keeping it short. Despite the value of long-form content, 41 per cent of Millennials said the main reason they abandon content is that it’s too long. Keep the context of your content in mind – are they on a mobile device looking for a quick distraction, or researching for real, in-depth information?
Conclusion
Marketing professionals must adopt multiple strategies to reach Millennials – there is not a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Learn and experiment with what they respond to best to ensure you understand what matters to them to achieve the most cut through.
For a more detailed deep dive into the behaviours, trends and attitudes of Millennials, check out the Millennials Marketing Conference and hear it from some of the world’s leading practitioners. Alternatively, get in touch via dave@growthtank.com.au
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