Another Blog about Millennials

Hearing small bits about marketing strategy from articles on LinkedIn and the New York Times, Millennials seem to be a highly sought-after demographic for advertisers. This didn’t come as too much of a surprise to me. Knowing myself and friends my age, this is the first time in many of our lives that we have had some semblance of our own “disposable” income and we aren’t what most would call, “responsible”, with our money.

I assumed companies would naturally want to exploit our erratic and irrational spending habits. While that may be part of the appeal, Sydney Ember’s piece from the New York Times brings up another very important piece of why companies want to attract millennials: we’re building spending habits. Ember says, “[Millennials] are also deciding which brands they are likely to remain loyal to for the rest of their lives.”

Millennials have grown up with knowledge and information almost always a Google search away. A consequence of all this new information is a bit of the magic is lost. We’ve all seen behind the curtain.

The Wizard of Oz, 1939

Millennials understand (more or less) how advertising works and can see it from a mile away when companies are trying to sell them something. This doesn’t mean they won’t listen though, according to Michael Brenner of NewsCred. Brenner says more than half of millennials feel more connected to a brand when they see online content from the brand. The trick now seems to be to sell Millennials on the brand itself and the best way they have found to do that is through telling stories. By creating media content which allows consumers to envision themselves in a situation, it allows them to interpret their own use for the product in their own life. For example, this Spotify ad:

By relating to viewers on a more personal level and allowing them to put themselves into the shoes of the characters in the ad, consumers feel a relationship to the brand because they are able (hopefully) to imagine themselves in the scenario from the ad.

Personally, I find myself drawn to stories which include risk and intrigue, but have a distinct ending. I very much enjoy resolution; cliff hanger endings or stories that finish with “… only time will tell” are much less satisfying. A specific risk that I appreciate is the risk of learning something new. Learning involves a lot of failures and with the right attitude a lot of funny blunders. It is a theme in writing that I think can relate to anyone no matter what skill or information you are writing about learning.

One story (or series of stories) that has really stuck with me recently was a series of podcasts released on NPR’s Planet Money podcast. The premise of this mini-series was that the hosts of the show wanted to “get into the oil business”. That is, they wanted to first-hand see and experience the process of buying and selling oil from start to finish. The series was interesting, they had to learn a lot of new things along the way, and overall the series followed a pleasant narrative arc. It introduced characters early on, had an inciting incident when they first made a deal to buy oil, lots of rising action as they had troubles picking up and delivering the oil because of weather, the climax occurs when they finally manage to sell their oil and everything then on, such as talking to the oil man again about how much they could have sold for had weather held up, was falling action and resolution.

My appreciation for what this specific podcast does makes me very comfortable trusting other and all content NPR releases, whether it be news or other podcasts. Advertisers may just reach more Millennials should they choose to follow NPR’s lead in creating trust in a brand through consistent, genuine, and relatable content for viewers/readers/consumers/etc.

Like what you read? Give Seth Hansen a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.