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Millennials: Who Are They? What Do They Want? Why Are They So Important?

As product manager responsible for all digital offerings at Harland Clarke, Rachel Stephens keeps financial institutions up to date on household and deposit acquisition strategies, digital and technology trends, and generational marketing.

Millennials, millennials, millennials.

If you’re like me, you can’t receive an email, read an article, or view a webcast these days without it being about this omnipresent generation.

What is it about them that has captured our attention? What makes them so different?

A few things, actually.

  1. Trust
    Global conflict abroad, and 9/11 and mass shootings at home, have delivered the message loud and clear that safety is not guaranteed. And the well-established trust in financial institutions crumbled with the financial crisis of 2008.It’s no wonder that 70 percent of them trust their peers over traditional authority figures such as government, big business, or higher education.Also unsurprisingly: 84 percent of millennials do not trust traditional advertising methods.
  2. Technology
    Millennials are the first generation raised in a digital, technology and media saturated world.

And

  1. Innovation
    More than half of millennials know someone who has either started or worked at a startup. They are enthusiastic about innovation and using it to disrupt industries that seem outdated and overly complicated to them.

But … not all millennials are created equal. It’s best to look at them in three categories.

Younger millennials: These mobile natives were toddlers during 9/11 and were too young to feel the full brunt of the financial crisis. They often seek financial advice from their parents (maybe because they DID feel the brunt of the financial crisis).

Middle millennials: They personally felt the impact of the financial crisis, and either lost their jobs or had to take on significant debt with student loans. They are penny pinchers and on very tight budgets.

Older millennials: Over 30, these millennials remember what life was like in the “good old days,” before the internet, email and smartphones. They were just entering adulthood around 9/11 and in the workforce during the financial crisis. They are typically married and fully employed. They are more likely to have robust savings. And more likely to seek a wider variety of financial information and advice than their younger peers.

The takeaway here is to never assume a millennial born in 1984 is identical to a millennial born in 2000.

One marketing message will not resonate with all of them. How could it? Not only is this the largest generation in history, it’s also the most diverse.

The message of safety and security may go over well with older and middle millennials, whereas the younger ones may want to hear about innovation and digitalization.

When addressing millennials overall consider that:

  • 87 percent say their phone never leaves their side
  • 88 percent have or would deposit a check by snapping a picture
  • 60 percent say EVERY thing will be done via mobile devices in the next 5 years
  • 54 percent would pay using a mobile wallet
  • 86 percent say there are still a lot of websites lacking mobile functionality
    and
  • 14 percent would not do business with a company that doesn’t have a mobile site or app

Lastly, when creating your marketing messages for this large and diverse group of individuals, keep A-B-C-D in mind.

A is for Authenticity
Whether your message is negative or positive, always be honest and transparent as possible. Steer away from corporate jargon.

B stands for Brevity
Not many people read past the subject line these days. Be brief, be clear, and keep your audience in mind.

C stands for Context
How, when and why you communicate your message is just as important as the what. Always provide context to maximize the power and impact of your message.

D is for Digital
This one almost goes without saying. ALL communications and messaging must be optimized for digital channels. What you communicate in a postcard should also be pared down to fit in 280 characters on Twitter, a short post on Facebook, an image on Instagram, a video on YouTube, etc. 34 percent of millennials say “I like that brand more” when the company uses social media.

At the end of October, I will be in New York City for the Yext Onward Conference from the 23rd to the 25th. You already know what my face looks like, so be sure to swing by and say hello.

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Harland Clarke Corp. is a leading provider of best-in-class integrated payment solutions and marketing services, serving multiple industries including financial services, retail, healthcare, insurance, and telecommunications.

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