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Why Millennials Are Ignoring Your Brand

If you have having trouble connecting with 18-33 year olds, aka, Millennials, don’t feel bad. This generation is extremely different from Gen X (me) and Boomers (my parents) – and Pew Research actually quantified how different they are in a social trends study they released last spring.

Pew found that Millennials are:

  • Unattached to organized politics and religion
  • Linked by social media (they’re the first generation of Digital Natives)
  • Burdened by debt
  • Distrustful of people
  • In no rush to marry
  • Optimistic about the future
  • The most racially diverse generation in the U.S.

But let’s get back to the challenge you’re facing: Millennials are ignoring your brand. Based on what we know about them (thanks Pew Research!), here are six things to do so Millennials will connect with and embrace your brand:

1. Treat them like individuals

First and foremost, Millennials have a strong sense of self. They know who they are and what is important to them, and they expect to be treated like the unique individuals they are. As you keep reading, you’ll see this trait play out in the rest of our tips.

2. Let them participate

Millennials are not only Digital Natives, they’re the selfie generation, too. They LOVE to participate. Love it. Let them participate in your brand. Ask for user-generated content – photos, videos (hello GoPro), their stories – and then showcase it on your website and on social media.

3. Provide a customized experience

Pay attention to your website, social, and email metrics so you understand what content is resonating with Millennials. Doing so allows you to provide a customized experience via loyalty programs, recognition events and special access to sales. In short, make your Millenial customers feel special.

4. Highlight your values

More than any other generation, Millennials prefer to buy from companies who share their values. This means you not only need to share your values on your website’s about page, but you need to weave them into everything you do. Put them front and center – you might be surprised by the response you get.

5. Give back and do good

In this social impact study published by Cone Communications, they found that “Millennials are hyperaware of, and have high expectations for, corporate social responsibility efforts to make the world a better place.” In fact, Millennials will switch brands from one that doesn’t do a thing to one that actively gives back.

6. Be transparent and authentic

Remember Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye? He hated phonies. It’s all he talked about in the book. (In fact, that’s all I remember about the book.) Well, Holden may as well have been part of the Millennial generation, because they don’t like phonies either.

You have to be completely transparent and totally authentic to connect with Millennials. Tell your story. Be forthright about pricing. Keep your promises. If you mess up, own it, apologize for it, and make amends. And for pete’s sake, don’t lie!

What else do you do to connect with Millennials?