Marketing to Millennials: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: July 13th, 2013 by bobmorris

Marketing to MillennialsMarketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever
Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton
AMACOM (2013)

Why Millennials are probably the most powerful segment of buyers and influencers

There are three ways to define the term “millennials”:

o As an age group born between early 1980s and early-2000s, children of Baby Boomers or Gen Xers (born 1946 to 1964)

o As a set of values: family, personal connection, and loyalty; seek out the genuine and are repulsed by “phony”; famously optimistic and believe in the possibility of change; advocate for the environment and social justice; treasure tolerance and diversity, teamwork and balance; and seek spirituality and are open to the possibility of the divine

o Both as an age group and in terms of their common values

According to J. Maureen Henderson in her blog post, “You’re Not Going to Change the World, and That’s Okay”: “Those of us who grew up as part of the middle-class North American majority learned that we could be anything we wanted, but somewhere along the way, we got it twisted around in our heads that we had to be everything the world wanted/needed in order to be successful. Money wasn’t enough, nor was the love of family and friends, we wanted to matter, to make a difference, to prove ourselves, even if we couldn’t define exactly what this entailed…The desire not to hide our individual lights under a bushel is a laudable one, but not everyone is going to be a game changer. And there’s no shame or failure or inadequacy in working an “ordinary” job, in leading a quiet life, in surrounding yourself with a handful of close friends and family. In fact, those are the lives most of us end up with, with the smarter of us realizing that they’re every bit as meaningful as the marquee existences we feel we ought to aspire to.”

Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton have written a book in which they explain how to reach the most influential generation of consumers ever. More specifically, how to leverage members of that generation to create or increase demand for whatever is offered. Their research on a generation that comprises about 25% of the total U.S. population (the largest segment) are also “the leading indicators (if not the drivers) of media consumption, advocacy, and social media usage among all generations.”

I especially appreciate their skillful use of various reader-friendly devices such as the 22 “Figures,” mini-case studies, “Millennial Stat” snapshots, and a set of “Key Takeaways” at the end of each of the seven chapters. These and other devices will facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

At this point I need to emphasize that the Millennial generation — as is true of most others — consists of several distinct segments. There are sometimes significant differences between and among them. I suggest that general statements be prefaced by such fudge phrases as “Millennials tend to…” and “More often than not….” Pay special attention to the material presented in Chapter 2 (Pages 39-47) in which Fromm and Garton discuss Millennial Personas:

HIP-ENNIAL: Cautious, Global, Charitable, and Information hungry
OLD-SCHOOL: Disconnected, Cautious, and Charitable
GADGET GURU:Successful, Wired, and Free-Spirited
CLEAN AND GREEN: Impressionable, Cause Driven, Healthy, and Green
MILLENNIAL MOM: Wealthy, Family-Oriented, and Digitally Savvy
ANTI-MILLENIAL: Locally Minded and Conservative

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me:

o The Old Framework vs. the Participation Framework (Pages 9-16)
o The Millennial Mindset (23-26)
o An Enigma Generation? (32-34)
o Six Distinct Millennial Segments (39-47)
o The Mobile Moment of Truth (61-700
o The Participation Economy (81-83)
o Engagement (New) vs. Interruption (Old) Pages 85-90
o Hyperconnected and Always on the Go (110-113)
o So What Does All This Mean? (122-123)
o The Parent Trap (140-142)
o Whatever Happened to Brand Loyalty? (149-150)
o Rewards Work (155-157)
o Brands That Care (163-166)
o Engage Millennials in Everything You Do, and Strive for Content Excellence (170-177)

When concluding their remarkably insightful as well as eloquent book, Jeff Fromm and Christie Garton observe: “While your brand’s core target audience today may be older, Millennials are a generation that cannot be ignored. Though they may seem far off from your target audience now, they will eventually transition into your core demographic. It’s better to get to know and engage them early on, building their loyalty over time.” I presume to add that there are many families such as mine whose Millennials have a significant impact on purchase decisions. Our six are much better informed about options — re functions, features, and benefits as well as pricing and service — than anyone else is. The value of such influence should not be underestimated or, worse yet, ignored.

The Pew Research Center offers some especially informative material, including a 14-question self-assessment, that can be accessed by clicking here.

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