Millennial-Focused Innovation Strategies: They’re Not Just for Millennials Anymore!

Posted by Jon Hall on Jun 16, 2015

Shopper_with_Cell_Phone_appNo consumer demographic gets more attention these days than Millennials. As the largest living generation in the United States and early adopters of the latest trends and technologies, Millennials have carved out their position as one of the most influential consumer groups in today’s marketplace, and have a profound impact on the way businesses tailor their branding and positioning.

That being said, as the latest trends and technologies geared towards Millennials start becoming more common in the marketplace, older generations are starting to adjust to this new way of doing things, and they’re closing the gap on Millennial consumers. Today, Millennial-focused innovation strategies aren’t just attracting Millennials; Gen X and even Baby Boomers are changing their ways and adopting mindsets and behaviors tangential to those of Millennial influencers. These aren’t clueless adults that don’t know how Google works; today’s Boomers and Gen Xers are tech-savvy consumers that know just as much about the latest iPhone as their Millennial sons and daughters. 

To help you maximize the effectiveness of a marketing strategy that targets generations of all ages, here are 5 different Millennial-focused innovation strategies that transcend the generation gap:

Focus on Health

Though Millennials might be known for leading the charge on healthy, natural, and farm-to-fork foods, consumers of all ages today are looking for ways to eat better and improve their health. While motivations for eating better might vary from generation to generation, consumers young and old alike are aware of the impact healthy foods can have on their overall health (e.g. avoiding saturated fats to lower cholesterol), and they’re willing to pay premium to get those benefits. According to Nielsen’s 2015 Global Health & Wellness survey, 88% of consumers – from Millennials to Baby Boomers – say they would pay more for healthy foods, including those that are deemed all natural, GMO-free, and have no artificial coloring or flavors. Everyone can appreciate the benefits of living longer, healthier, and more active lifestyles, and today’s consumers recognize that it all starts with the food and nutritional supplements they put into their bodies.  

One food category that’s mastered this cross-generational marketing strategy is Greek yogurt. As one of the most popular superfoods of the past few years, Greek yogurt has exploded in popularity among all consumer demographics, in large part thanks to the advertising and messaging behind its benefits. For Millennials, yogurt brands have positioned yogurt as a source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and calcium, and highlight its functionality as a great on-the-go snack. For older generations like Baby Boomers, however, brands promote its fiber content, antioxidants, and probiotic benefits that help with gastrointestinal health issues. As manufacturers look to reach a broader customer base with their healthy foods, it’s simply a matter of finding what benefits resonate with their consumers and positioning their products accordingly.

Be More Transparent 

While it’s true Millennials demand more transparency than other generations, it’s foolish to think older generations don’t value transparency as well. No one wants to do business with a company who has something to hide, and in today’s digital age where customers can find just about any piece of information they need online, it’s best to be upfront and open with them from start. In fact, it’s safe to say today’s consumers expect to find answers to their questions, and an unclear, misleading response is often just as incriminating as a negative answer. According to a 2013 survey by Edelman, 90% of consumers want brands to share more information about their products and services, including information about the product design and development process, as well as complete openness about their performance against competitors. 47% of consumers want brands to be more transparent about how their products are sourced and manufactured, and 4 in 10 respondents say they want brands to listen and respond more thoughtfully.

Embrace New Technologies

One of the biggest differences between Millennials and older generations is their understanding and early adoption of the latest technologies. Millennials are known for being digital natives, whereas Baby Boomers and Generation X have been slower on the technological uptake. Though these generalizations still hold a bit of truth to them, today’s Boomers and Gen Xers are much more tech savvy than they were just 5 years ago, and shouldn’t be treated like they’re incapable of adopting the advancements happening around them. Looking at a recent report on the US smartphone market by Nielsen for example, 86% of consumers aged 25-34 own a smartphone, as well as 70% aged 45-54 and 61% aged 55-64, respectively. By now in 2015, smartphones and tablets have become integral pieces of consumers’ everyday lives, and older generations have had no choice but to adapt or get left behind. In fact, smartphone owners aged 45-54 use an average of 25 different apps each month, and even those aged 55+ still spend more than 21 hours across an average of 22 different apps each month. While Millennials’ app usage is still much higher (more than 29 apps and 35 hours each month), it still goes to show how quickly the gap is closing between each generation, and that brands shouldn’t be afraid to use custom apps or technological in-store displays for their older audiences.

Support a Cause

As the leaders of today’s social causes, Millennials are known to support companies that give back to charity and help the community around them. According to a study by Cone Communications, 68% of Millennials say a company’s social/environmental commitment is important or extremely important when deciding which products to buy, with 51% also saying they’re willing to pay more for sustainable products. Brands like TOMS and Warby Parker have seen tremendous success with the Millennial audience thanks to their charitable giving, and many other brands have started to follow suit. But if you thought Millennial shoppers were the only ones who valued companies that give back, you’re gravely mistaken. 55% of all global online consumers say they’re willing to pay more for products and services provided by companies that are committed to social and environmental causes, and Baby Boomers account for 43% of all annual charitable contributions – more than any other generation. Even in the restaurant industry, 36% of Boomers say they’re more likely to visit restaurants that support charities, along with 54% of Millennials and 53% of Gen Xers. By supporting a cause that’s relevant to both the brand and consumer and making an authentic commitment, your customers will see you giving back and will want to support your brand in order to be a part of the process themselves.

Emphasize Cost Savings 

Despite the old stereotype that Millennials freely spend their money on trivial items without a long-term savings plan, new data suggests that they’re actually much more frugal – similar to Baby Boomers. According to Synchrony Financial’s report, “Balancing Multi-Generational Retail Strategies,” both Baby Boomers and Millennials love coupons, bargains, and sales, with 75% of Millennials and Boomers each saying they’re more likely to purchase a product if they offer a loyalty discount or coupon. Likewise, 71% of Millennials and 65% of Boomers both say they take advantage of discount offers now more often than they did in the past, and both generations say the lowest prices are the most important purchase driver when choosing which mass merchandiser to shop at. As Millennials start raising families and settle into their full-time careers, they’re paying less attention to brand name purchases, and more attention to maximizing their savings.

That being said, while both generations appreciate a great deal, both generations go about finding deals differently. Though it’s true that Baby Boomers are becoming more tech-savvy every day, Millennials are still the leaders when it comes to finding deals on their mobile devices and online. In fact, 41% of Millennials say they use their smartphones to access mobile coupons, whereas only 17% of Boomers admit to doing so. Similarly, 62% of Millennials have responded to offers sent to their mobile device, compared to just 39% of Boomers. When it comes to printed media on the other hand, 38% of Boomers use it to find product information and deals, whereas only 19% of Millennials do the same. In order to get consumers of all ages interested in your offers, it’s important that you use a healthy mix of printed media, in-store displays, email and mobile offers, as well as custom retail apps to maximize your effectiveness.

Want to learn more about the different Millennial-focused innovation strategies today’s brands are using to win over consumers? Download our free Millennial eBook to see 13 proven strategies that earn results:

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Topics: Millennials, consumer insights