Meet the elephant in the room: How to market to the under 35s

Over the past 10 years, I’ve been travelling around the country listening and talking to business owners. One thing has cropped up again and again - how on earth do you market to a generation of customers who don’t like to be sold or marketed to?

Recently a very interesting survey came out in the United States from Pew showing the internet consumption of teenagers aged between 13 and 17. The three most popular platforms were (in order of usage) - YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat - view the report here. (Incidentally, Facebook came a distant 4th).

This group of consumers represent Generation Z or Edge (born after 2000), the generation following the Millennials (born between 1980 and 1999). Yet most organisations are still scratching their heads trying to figure out what Millennials want from companies.

So, let’s look at this group of under 35s who are very much the future - not only are they your customers but they will shortly make up a majority of the workforce. And they are NOT going away!

 ·      They barely remember a time before the internet. In fact, under 20s won’t even remember before mobile internet came in.

·      A mobile phone is an essential item which is as natural to them as eating or wearing clothes.

·      Ironically though it’s not actually used as a phone. Instead it’s a mass communication device.

·      Reading and writing, whilst still essential, are not the preferred way of getting information. Instead it’s all about images, video and filters.

·      Facebook is totally uncool and most won’t have used it regularly for years. Instead it’s all about Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube and Twitch (a live gaming platform).

·      For digital natives, engagement is utterly essential. Content isn’t just meant to be consumed but engaged with.

·      They still use Google but then expect to get onto websites in just a few seconds or else you’ve lost them.

·      Customer experience and customer journey are therefore particularly important to a generation who want instant access to content and information.

·      They are totally comfortable creating and sharing content for others to consume. Most will have lived their entire lives online - in fact we’re starting to see a small but significant minority of this generation who are distancing themselves from social media

·      In the workplace they are far more collaborative and creative than Gen Xers (39 - 52 year-olds) or the Baby Boomers (53+) thanks to the changes in education programmes over the 90s and Noughties

With all this in mind, do you REALLY think your sales and marketing strategy is up to scratch? Chances are it needs a total overhaul. I have six pieces of advice for you:

1.     If under 35s are your customers, suppliers or employees now or likely to be in the coming years, devise a proper business plan to accommodate them.

2.     Think about creating a culture within your organisation which is in line with today’s digital world and harnesses the power of Millennials.

3.     Look again at your content. Will it really pass muster with the always-connected generation or is it stale and boring?

4.     How social are you? Really? And I don’t mean just your marketing or PR team. All of you in the business! And if you want to engage under 35s, chances are you need someone that age representing you online!

5.     Once you’ve got decent and engaging content, think about how advertising can reach out to new and younger audiences.

6.     Gather data on your customers to understand exactly who they are, where they are, what they want and how you can engage them.

 This is the DNAsix way. Contact me if you want to find out more on david@dnasix.com

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