Julia Manoukian

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February 20, 2018

Marketing to Millennials: Why Experiences Matter Most

Julia Manoukian

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Marketing to millennials is a muddle. Unlike the generations that came before them, young people are immune to timeworn advertising strategies and are more wary of big brands. In fact, as many as 84 percent of millennials distrust traditional advertising, and fewer than 1 percent say that ads influence them, according to one study. If you want to reach this lucrative target market, then you need to try something different. Young people favor experiences over traditional marketing, so an effective campaign using experiential marketing automation is a great way for you to connect with them.

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Marketing to Millennials Isn't Easy, But Research Proves It Works

More than any other generation, millennials suffer from "ad fatigue," a phenomenon where people stop paying attention to traditional marketing. TV commercials, radio spots and newspaper ads are all part of marketing strategies that fall on their deaf ears. This is one of the benefits experiential marketing provides to this demographic—it cuts through the noise of social or digital. 

Millennials are looking for something different, and they prefer experiences over owning material things. For example, 72 percent of millennials would rather spend cash on travel, music festivals and one-of-a-kind events than cars and homes, according to research from Harris Group cited by CNBC.

"Millennials view ownership differently than previous generations did," writes Uptin Saiidi in the CNBC article. "While young adults have traditionally placed high value in a car and home, many are now seeing them as major commitments." The Harris Group research also reveals that the share of customers who spend money on live experiences and events has increased by 70 percent since 1987.

Why Does Experiential Marketing Connect With Millennials?

In-store promotions, pop-up stores, trade shows and exhibitions provide millennials with exclusive, memorable activities. "When you take your product or service and highlight it at one of these events, you are sharing your brand with millennials in a context that they enjoy," says the Forbes Agency Council.

Best-in-Class Companies Who Target Millennials

There are various brands who have done marketing to millennials with creative experiential campaigns. Insurance group State Farm, for example, set up shop at the 2016 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee and provided young guests with festival essentials like toothbrushes, toothpaste and shampoo. State Farm reps and festival-goers shared the experience on social media with the hashtag #HereToHelp, creating a buzz-worthy campaign that went viral. In addition, clothing retailer H&M captured the millennial market at Coachella in 2016 with a special clothing collection based on festival fashion.

These campaigns worked because they were authentic and created unique experiences. Forty-three percent of millennials choose authenticity over content when it comes to consuming information about products, and 72 percent have a positive view of brands that provide great experiences. If you want to know how to market to millennials, remember these statistics.

Don't Forget to Optimize Your Campaigns With Experiential Marketing Analytics

Getting creative with an experiential campaign is just half the battle. You also need to capture valuable customer data so that you can communicate with prospects at every stage of the sales cycle. Experiential marketing software will let you create a 360-degree overview of your consumers with real-time analytics. These programs enable you to send millennials more-personalized communications that boost sales and conversions and measure your campaigns more effectively.

Targeting millennials can be a challenge, but this lucrative target market can provide you with a hefty return on your investment if you get things right. Focus on experiential instead of traditional ads when dealing with this group. Millennials crave authentic, exclusive experiences that they can't find anywhere else. Software for experiential marketing can help you offer these kinds of experiences. Plus, marketing automation for experiential marketing will let you monitor your campaigns over time.

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