Millennials – love them, confused by them, understand them or not, these young adults between 18 ad 34 years old are worth $1.3 trillion in buying power each year in the USA alone.

This may be enough to make any marketer sit up and take more notice of the up and coming ‘Generation Y’ and how their spending power will only increase in the coming years as their parent’s generation start to slow their spending.

As business owners and marketers, we are facing a generation of customers who are ready to boost the UK economy, were born with the internet already in existence, were raised with mobile technology, and are willing to engage in relationships with their favourite brands but at the same time want to see almost instant results for their efforts. This is a generation of ‘right-now’ so will be reluctant to spend without securing immediate value, or have a clear expectation of what will be delivered.

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The marketing mindset is shifting in large businesses towards this consumer group, and now loyalty marketers across all sectors are asking themselves not “How” or “What,” but rather, “Why?” Why should she buy your product or service? Why should he join your loyalty reward scheme? Why should she take up your local community based offer? What do they get from their efforts?

They may have the label of ‘Generation Y’ but we really should be calling them ‘Generation Why’!

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How do you target your marketing to this generation?

Luckily for us, there are certain traits that are shared between nearly all millennials, and these shared traits can be targeted to enable you to connect and engage with them.

Mobile Marketing

Smartphone ownership is considered as almost compulsory among millennials. For UK millennials a mobile phone acts just like their own personal assistant – they are indispensable! The smartphone is a key device for their digitally dominant life, so marketing through mobile devices is important in general.

Make sure your website is mobile friendly if you want to attract millennials to your website to either join up to your newsletter, read and comment on your blog, or to buy your products or services.

Target social groups through social media

The new Generation Y are the most non-traditional generation in existence so far! They view life very differently to previous generations, and their idea of ‘family’ has so many different meanings than before. ‘Community’ also has a different meaning to them, meaning that it extends far beyond where they live and can encompass people living all over the world.

A millennial can have a ‘Facebook Family’ where they will engage with groups of people on a daily basis that share a common passion – they may converse with these people even more than they do with their own parents, and yet they may not have met any of them in real life!

If you want to attract millennials to your social media sites, then focus your posts on segments that are drawn towards a social cause that you could link into or align your business with, or those who follow an ethos or alternative lifestyle that your product or service would appeal to, or even those that follow vloggers or social media personalities that are relevant to your niche or business sector. Millennials are more likely to have a deep attachment to these social personalities than they do with any normal life-stage that their parents would have had.

Be engaging on social media

We all know that we need to be engaging with all our social media followers and fans, but this is especially important to millennials. The vast majority of millennials have never known a world without social media, so they will be actively looking to solve problems and get answers to their questions online in the first instance through online research via social media and the internet. At the same age their parents generation were more likely to discuss and resolve issues in person by talking to close family and friends directly.

If your brand can bring a relevant and instant solution to their real world issues and problems, then you are the ones that will be able to win plenty of attention from this generation. Around 96% of millennials claim that their network of friends are their most credible source of information, so if you can engage with this generation in a positive way through your blog and social media pages, you can generate evangelical social sharers to spread your word, and that will give you far better results than traditional marketing techniques will bring in for you.

What does this mean for us?

What this means for the small business owner is that you need to be relevant and engaging. You should aim to build your online community as well as sharing your products and services along the way. If you go all-out to hit millennials with constant sales pitches, then they will go cold and ignore you as just a part of the background noise of the internet.