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COLLECTIVELY, GENERATIONS SHARE cultural experiences that shape their values, technological developments that affect how they prefer to communicate, and lifestyle expectations that inform their purchasing decisions. There are a myriad of factors that influence which products and brands appeal to each generation — and which ones don’t — and understanding these differences is central to generational marketing. Of all the generations, Millennials are the most misunderstood, both in the workplace and in the marketplace. Often described as entitled, Millennials have an inaccurate reputation for demonstrating a less-than-stellar work ethic, born from helicopter parenting and participation trophies. However, there’s much more to Millennials than meets the eye. Born between the early 1980s and the year 2000, Millennials now, in 2015, make up one quarter of the U.S. population according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They are more than 80 million strong, making this generation the largest, according to a 2014 Millennials report issued by The Council of Economic Advisors. Millennials were shaped by the creation of the Internet and e-commerce, the Columbine shooting and 9/11, and not least of all, reality television. As children, the average Millennial spent five hours a day engaging with media, including television, computers, video games and music. Using technology is like breathing to them, so an outdated or poorly functioning website can be incredibly frustrating for this generation. Millennials are relying less on TV as they age, preferring to use streaming services like Netflix and Hulu instead. With digital music taking over radio listenership among this segment, it is increasingly difficult to reach this group through traditional TV and radio ads. Instead, Millennials respond well when they feel they’ve stumbled across your message by themselves. For example, Red Bull has been known to enlist well-connected students to create buzz on college campuses by talking about the brand and throwing Red Bull parties. Sneaker manufacturer Vans has marketed to Gen Y by building skate parks for their communities. These community-building marketing strategies are important. Even though Millennials are quick to make purchases, they don’t like traditional sales pitches. They appreciate a more authentic approach that speaks to their core values. Especially because of the tragedies that occurred during their most formative years, like 9/11, Millennials want to cure the world of its problems. Focusing on your brand’s vision and greater purpose can help you connect with Millennials in a meaningful way that inspires a deep sense of loyalty. Cultivating this loyalty is crucial because Millennials are more loyal to their favorite brands than any other generation before them. For most companies, Gen Y is a vast untapped market. If you want to tick them off, talk down to them, deliver a traditional sales pitch, or give them disappointing technology. If you want Millennials to become your brand advocates, use humor to show your brand doesn’t take itself too seriously, make them feel respected and make them feel like they’re a part of a positive change that’s important to the larger world. Right now, as young adults, Millennials are poised to have profound impact on society — and on your bottom line.

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RedRover Sales & Marketing