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Why do Millennials prove resistant to conventional marketing communications?


The term millennial was first used by Neil Howe and William Strauss in their book Generations published in 1991. They posited that generations in American history shared characteristics not with preceding or incoming ones but with far removed generations which they never met. For example, people born between 1980 and 2000, shared many traits with the group born from around 1900 to the mid-1920s. Howe however explained that they chose the term Millennial because their research made it clear that this generation, would be drastically different from any other in history and therefore needed a distinct name.
Millennials are described as the demographic group following Generation X born between 1980 and 2000. They grew up with the first set of interactive technology in their hands, by age 10, they were playing Nintendo games which offered constant feedback and virtual opportunities to save the world all of which influenced them for instant messaging and feedback showing how this generation approaches work, teams bonding and communication.

In 2000, they were introduced to the World Wide Web and online chat rooms, they became the first generation in history whose social life and information acquisition prowess were centred around digital technology platforms hence they did not have to adapt to technology because it was all they had ever known. Also, during their teenage years, they acquired mobile phones which made their social activities on-the-go and since they are early adopters of technology and trends, they constantly seek opportunities to innovate and create. In time, they acquired smart phones like the iPhone which specifically targeted the millennials with its multi-touch interface, virtual keyboard with automatic spell check & correction, predictive text technology and the ability to learn new words. With this, networking on Facebook, Twitter and all trending social media platforms became easier and helped them grow in their social networking ability making the internet an extension of their brain and forming real online communities.
As they grew older, the millennial felt a need not just to absorb information but to contribute to ongoing conversations online so they gained traction on Twitter as a micro-blogging platform and also started a blog on Tumblr where they shared their passion on a public and global platform. Hence growing up with access to the Internet has empowered millennials to contribute and have a voice.
In time, the millennial went on to make life altering decisions such as how to get an ideal job, where to live, what to buy, what to eat all of which he leverages upon his social network to help refer him thus projecting him as one who is heavily persuaded by his peers, constantly turning to his networks for new opportunities and seeking referrals and recommendations to assess the equity of brands most relevant to him . Also, leveraging on the power of the Internet and social media referrals, the millennial became a young professional who had already had 2-3 different jobs by his mid twenties. They are privy to inside scoop on companies with employee reviews, salaries, benefits and know what companies can offer them a better fit and salary. This makes them demand transparency from leaders, employers and brands.

It is therefore based on these unique idiosyncrasies that the millennial is a distinct persona well differentiated from other generations. His need to socialize with his online community has him believing word of mouth referrals over advertising, his sense of social responsibility and values will make him a loyalist of a brand that has a strong CSR ethic rather than one that is well endorsed by celebrities.
Millenials are not fascinated by big brand names like preceding generations before them, they are comfortable with finding what works for them and adopting that. The hard sell doesn’t appeal to them as they would rather respond to influencers online, this is because millennials have come to value brand authenticity over other promotional copy. Also millennials are mobile in that their primary means of accessing the web is through their phones and they are constantly on the move with a plethora of information at their finger tips. Therefore viral marketing, influencer marketing and online PR are some of the strategies best suited to this unique target, messaging via gifs, video and text, interactive formats and refreshingly honest copies will win the millennial over.

In conclusion, while the varied elements of marketing communications namely; Advertising, PR, sales promotion, publicity, direct marketing worked well as a formidable combination to reach the specific target in the past, the Millennial has proven that it takes more creative and unconventional tactics to appeal to their uniquely individual sense of self.

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