The generation born between 1980 and 2000, that’s coming of age now is about as different in terms of behavior as any the world of business has seen. A Pew Research that polled a representative sample of 1,821 adults showed that this is a generation that’s unmoored from institutions, considers itself to be digital natives and does not anchor its identity to religion or ethnicity.
Google research reveals that millennials are quick to use mobile to research products on the fly and are prepared to change their minds when there is sufficient data for them to do so. This is backed by the Pew Research findings that show that this is a generation that’s “Confident. Connected, Open to change”.
Trust, Authority, Authenticity
In truth, any kind of purchasing decision has been made upon the consumer’s assessment of a brand or a product based upon all three: Trust, Authority and Authenticity. So, nothing has changed in that regard. How these are calculated however has undergone a significant change that is still wrongfooting, governments, institutions as well as brands.
Brand-led messages, command-and-control approaches and marketing that’s based upon the status symbol of a purchase are no longer effective or anywhere near enough. When millennials reach out to their social network for reviews or suggestions, look across the web for independent product reviews and check in-depth information regarding the background of products and services top-down marketing tends to only get in their way.
The Age of Meaning
The change in attitudes that’s so unsettling to traditional marketing is also a golden opportunity for those brands that are evolving with the times and those marketers who understand what’s important to their audience.
In a time when attention is more fragmented than ever, gaining it and holding it depends on managing to adequately present your brand through what Google research calls micro-moments. Instances in which a person wants to learn something, wants to check something or wants to do something.
Content that surfaces in a micro-moment is intimately linked to the content creator’s understanding of an audience need and search’s understanding of:
- Content meaning
- Search query meaning
- Searcher intent
The dots that are joined here are driven by semantic technologies, of which semantic search is just one type, across the web and devices.
Stop ‘marketing’, Start Being Useful
Brands that fail to understand that the connection between themselves and their audience is one of practical usefulness will soon fail to find an audience to “buy their stuff”. Millennials are not impressed by fancy logos and sleek websites. Nor do they think that the most authoritative information on a product comes from those who sell it. Brands that get this are already busy changing their approach by:
- Focusing on satisfying customer intent rather than making a sale
- Creating value that goes beyond their products
- Starting conversations on shared interests and values with their audience
- Creating connections with potential customers long before the point of the purchasing decision
- Establishing an identity and a voice that helps to develop trust between them and their potential audience
All of these, of course, lead to those “three little words”: Trust, Authority, Authenticity. So, nothing has fundamentally changed, yet everything is different.