4 Tips for Retailers Marketing to Millenials

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Some of you may be wondering, “who are millenials, exactly?” Also known as “Generation Y,” they are individuals born between the 1980s and 2000s. Experts have described them as “civic-minded,” rejecting the attitudes of the Baby Boomers and Generation X.

You’re probably also wondering “why do they matter?” Well, right now, millenials make up more than a third of the demographic in the United States and by 2020, they will make up half of the US workforce. In other words, they make up much of your retail store’s target audience.

Today’s retail businesses are generally run by Gen Xers — many of whom are having trouble marketing to a culture so different from their own. Email marketing, cause marketing, hash tags and brand transparency are four effective ways that marketers are reach millenials in 2014.

For retailers, there is good news: they can have their cake and eat it, too. They can optimize their website and dip their toe into social media marketing while improving their in-store sales at the same time. People counting systems can be used to compare their web visitor counts to their brick-and-mortar traffic, allowing retailers to understand the effectiveness of these new marketing strategies. They can use the technology to see how traffic changes after email promotions have been sent, after launching a cause marketing campaign or after engaging with customers through hash tags on social media.

So, without further ado:

1. Email marketing

The first step is to ditch direct mail – if you haven’t already – and go digital. The millennial generation receives everything by email – their bank statements, their bills, college and university information, news updates and of course sales promotions from their favorite brands. Most of them don’t even check their snail mailboxes, let alone open letters. Email marketing is cheaper and more measurable than traditional methods, too.

2. Cause marketing

That’s why cause marketing is important in 2014 – it helps you set your business apart from others doing the same old, same old. You don’t have to donate tons of money to a charity to show you care; involving your brand in political or social movement or spreading the word about a cause on social media is cost-effective.In his book, David Burstein described millennials’ approach to social change as “pragmatic idealism” or a deep desire to make the world a better place. In other words, they care about the world. They expect businesses and brands to care about it, too. Because there is such a vast marketplace of brands to choose from, millenials are not as prone to develop brand loyalty as earlier generations. Unless the brand supports a cause that they care about, that is.

3. Social media hash tags

It’s no secret that social media is millenials’ preferred medium – they get their news, information, updates and everyday conversation straight from their smartphones. Hash tags are widely used and highly searchable on Google and major social media – it is the common thread that ties millennials and brands together. Using hash tags on your brand’s social media profiles in the form of long tail keywords (phrases that your target audience will be searching for), trending topics and buzzwords is extremely effective. Regardless of what you use, hash tags will increase your online visibility and start a connected conversation between you and your followers.

4. Brand transparency

Like with cause marketing, millenials want you to give them a reason why they should develop loyalty for you, as opposed to another brand. They also want to ensure that they brands they choose share their interest in the greater good. In the news lately, more and more controversies surrounding CEOs have been brought to light. Millenials are likely boycott brands that treat their employees poorly or give money to a hate group, for example.

That’s why brand transparency is more important now than ever – meaning your brand puts everything out in the open for internet users to see and doesn’t have any dirty laundry or questionable motives. It’s important that you present yourself, on both your website and social media, in an accurate way. Don’t simply say you’re “award-winning” or “the best in the market” – prove it! Use testimonials, case studies and press releases to build your credibility.

How will you bridge the generation gap?