If you’ve been trying to ignore (or avoid) marketing your property to millennials until now, I’m sorry to say it, but your time has come.
There is a reason that you’ve been hearing about millennials everywhere: They cannot be ignored any longer. Millennials have not only reached critical mass in the consumer marketplace, but they are widely expected to outspend the boomer generation by 2017. Millennials now make up the majority of the coveted 18- to 35-year-old demographic and, in fact, have more 24-year-old consumers in America than any other age. In short, millennials are here to stay, and it’s time for you to do something about it.
But do what?
Below is a deep dive into some of the characteristics of millennials and how you can make your property irresistible to them based on what engages them.
Millennials live to collaborate. The oldest Gen Yers have been collaborating on social media since the MySpace and Xanga days. During their school years, they witnessed the transformation of their classrooms from neatly organized rows of desks facing the teacher to the ultra-collaborative classroom with desks grouped in pods facing each other. Collaboration is ingrained into the millennial mindset, and that’s good news for us.
Millennials desire to collaborate with everyone –even brands. And that includes you. Create marketing campaigns that invite millennials to not only interact with your brand, but to participate in the creation of your brand. Have them tell your brand story through their perspective. Mockingbird Station, a mixed-use development in Dallas, recently held a “digital fashion show” that paired local fashion bloggers with influential photographers to create their own fashion shoots to share via social media. Check out #MockingbirdStyles on Instagram to see an example of how millennials are collaborating with the retail brands at Mockingbird Station.
Even millennials’shopping experiences are collaborative. Millennials usually travel in packs when they do anything. Eating out, shopping, going to the movies, drinking at the bar – Gen Yers share their experiences with each other as well as larger groups of friends and acquaintances on social networks. Since millennials want that sense of community and enjoy large community events, start thinking about your property as a gathering place with a mission focused on building community. Large events like concert series, food festivals, outdoor movies and fashion shows attract millennials and give them a chance to connect with others – and this doesn’t just mean giving them the chance to connect with people their own age. On the contrary, millennials enjoy the company of other generations just as much as their own. Gen Y is the generation that loves to hang out with older people.
Which group of “older people” are their favorites? Their parents. Gen Yers have strong bonds with their parents, and that’s good news since a number of millennials are currently living at home with them as a result of the recession. Because of this “family pack” mentality, millennials are even influencing their parents’ buying decisions. From home purchases to fashion choices, Gen Yers are guiding the conversation often with ample amounts of online research about the products they – and their families – are purchasing.
The key takeaway? Don’t hesitate to include family-friendly events in your local marketing efforts to Gen Yers. Most of the older millennials are in their 30s now with small children; they’re “famillennials.” Therefore, multi-generational events that bring people together work very well at retail or mixed-use properties.
Millennials are often proponents of “social justice” as well. They want to leave their mark, to do good for the world, and gravitate toward brands with a social justice-minded business model. As a result, brands like TOMS, the Arkola Project, and Patagonia are creating loyalists out of millennials, and like-minded, fair-trade companies are becoming the go-to choice when making purchasing decisions.
Seek out social-justice minded retailers, and align your property with “doing good.” Team up with local nonprofits or charities that benefit when people do business with you. Better yet, integrate a charity or nonprofit in every campaign or promotion you run.
Millennials have become a generation that is constantly under scrutiny, and they’re looking to prove themselves as a force to be reckoned with. Aligning your property with their goals and principles will help initiate the conversation with this growing consumer group and give you a chance to take part in their ever-popular lifestyle.