We're happy to announce that there is one more interest we can add to the Millennial stereotype alongside fixed-gear bicycles, craft beer, and the ever-present smartphone. Millennials are highly attracted to inbound marketing. Why? It fits how they live. Millennials are constantly using the Internet for finding answers, attracting attention, creating their own content, and interacting online to exchange ideas.
In essence, because they've grown up with the Internet, Millennials see inbound marketing as the most savvy marketing approach for the online environment. In the four sectors Weidert Group serves—manufacturing, architecture/engineering, finance, and distribution—inbound marketing works because those sectors need to find new markets for their products and services, and previous techniques like tradeshows are just not as effective as they once were. While we never see young people leading marketing departments (and won't for several years), their value within teams cannot be understated. Because of their digital fluency and nack for understanding inbound marketing, we've found that young professionals often help companies more quickly adopt an inbound marketing approach.
For Millennials, a career in inbound marketing means more than receiving a paycheck every couple weeks. These new marketers have the opportunity be part of the marketing revolution that understands their buyer preferences and treats customers like themselves—with authenticity and respect. If you're building an inbound marketing plan, consider making a new hire part of your foundational work.
So, Who Are These "Millennials?"
Though the exact years vary with the source, a report from the White House describes the Millennial generation has having a birthdate between the years 1980 and 2004, (if you do the math you'll find they are currently between the ages of 10 and 34). With over 80 million Millennials, they’re the largest generation in the United State’s history - yes, even larger than the Baby Boomer generation. According to Katie Elfering, a market strategist specializing in Millennials, by the year 2020, it’s estimated that Millennials will make up 75% of the US workforce. With numbers like that, quite a few marketers have focused their research on Millennials and their buyer behaviors.
Of course, we can't overgeneralize 80 million diverse young americans, but we can observe some trends. Many Millennials were entering their first jobs during the recession of the late-2000’s and, as such, are both more likely to be thrifty and less likely to take risks with their money. Along with their higher college debt and high cost-of-living in the cities they choose to live, Millennials are on track to be the most frugal generation since those living in the Great Depression.
This generation is also defined by their relationship with the internet. With the near constant connection to social media, digital entertainment, and google, Millennials are accustomed to having access to the information they seek and expect immediate answers to their questions. Obviously, this has implications on their buyer behavior (as well as their work behavior!).
Millennials Exemplify the Change in Buyer Behavior That Makes Inbound Marketing Effective
Diane Swonk, chief economist for Mesirow Financial, said in the New York Times, “our whole consumer model is based on the baby boom.” Currently ages 50-68, this generation's childhood was during a time of economic stability and, after their rebellious hippie phase, started their careers during the prosperous 1980s. They quickly filled the economy with both their labor and their money. Throughout their careers, everything needed to move faster and faster. Opportunity was everywhere and if they had the chance to embrace it, they had to do it quick. Time soon became a more precious resource than ever before and buying decisions had to be made quickly.
Though the economy continues to ride the Baby Boomer wave, the Baby Boomers are saving more and more as they near retirement. Now, economists and marketers are questioning how our consumer model will adapt to Millennials’ buyer behavior.
Two years ago, after seeing decreasing sales, the mattress industry put together a comprehensive report on Millennials for BedTimes Magazine entitled “Meet the Millennials: Your Next Big Customer.” Try not to be fooled by the humerously named publication, this article was a tour de force and has been cited throughout the emerging literature involving marketing to Millennials. The author of the piece, Patricia Frank, spoke with several of the country's leading market strategists and developed a profile of this generation’s buyer behavior. I'll simplify her findings down to what you need to know.
Two factors shape Millennials behavior. First, they are extremely frugal shoppers and, second, they are always connected to the internet. The combination of these factors means that every purchase is a more considered purchase.
Unlike the Baby Boomers, many Millennials entered the job market in the time surrounding the Great Recession of 2008, resulting in the widespread frugality amongst this demographic. For many Millennials, this recession meant a period of under-employment during which the time so valued by their parent was less important than making informed purchased.
In their current day-to-day lives, Millennials spend less time on entertainment with advertisements and more time researching their buying decisions from sources such as the company’s website, third party reviews, and their friends' opinions on social media. Patricia Frank’s sources say:
Traditional advertising may still impact Millennials, but much less effectively than it did with any previous generation.
These are exactly the reasons why Millennials understand inbound marketing so well—they're the generation most swayed by it. Whether in the workplace or in personal purchases, Millennials see buying as an in-depth thought process that must be thoroughly examined. Thus, when in marketing roles, they're able to empathize and communicate better since they better understand the buyer's journey.
Inbound Marketing is Everybody's Marketing—Millennials just get it faster.
Millennials were certainly not the only generation impacted by the recession of the late 2000’s, they’re not the only generation saving, and they’re not the only generation with constant access to their smartphones. It’s easier now than ever before to make considered purchases – no matter your generation.
As Millennials enter the marketing workforce, they’re not interest in joining the advertisers that continue to annoy generation after generation. Sure, they may enjoy watching the sexy world of ’60s advertising in Mad Men, but I guarentee they’re watching it on Netflix where they pay to forgo ads. Millennials would rather have direct and honest communication with their customers and earn their respect and business.
No matter the generation, America’s buying behavior is changing. If a buyer has access to the internet and wants to make a considered purchase, they can find the company that will help them make the right purchase. Millenials want to be a part of making that happen.