How Millennials Are Changing the Face of Marketing Forever

How Millennials Are Changing the Face of Marketing Forever

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How Millennials Are Changing the Face of Marketing Forever

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    The Reciprocity Principle

    The conventional framework that most companies have used to approach marketing is often depicted as a funnel, with the company at one end and the customer who has made a purchase at the other. A company starts by defining the positioning, benefits, and personality of its brand. It then pushes that image down to consumers in an attempt to build awareness and, eventually, customer loyalty.

    This simple description of a linear relationship between investment in brand awareness and marketing outcomes may have been valid in the past, but this framework is outdated. Instead of being a process that is led and pushed by companies, modern marketing is an ecosystem that is influenced by some factors that a company can control and some that are beyond its control. It is a system in which marketers, customers, and potential customers perpetually exchange experiences, reactions, emotions, and buzz.

    A more effective marketing approach will be driven by the reciprocity principle. For the purposes of this report, we describe five key elements of this principle: reach, relevance, reputation, relation, and referral. Like any other ecosystem, the new marketing environment is dynamic, and its boundaries are fluid. Millennials are influencing each of these elements in profound ways.

    • Reach. Millennials are digital natives. They are more technologically savvy than other generations, and they use portable devices more extensively to access the Internet while physically visiting stores. Companies must use the full array of available media, as well as mobile devices, to reach these consumers and build brand awareness as cost-effectively as possible. In addition to using traditional marketing vehicles that are trusted by Millennials, such as public relations and endorsements, companies should increase their investments and capabilities in digital marketing, social media, advocacy, and cause marketing.

    • Relevance. Millennials, whose values differ from those of older generations, are distributed among a wide range of life’s stages: while some have started families, for example, others still live with their parents. Yet others are first-time independents. Their brand choices, moreover, are influenced by more and different kinds of people. Companies must be aware of all this to make their brands relevant and appealing.

    • Reputation. Because Millennials identify more personally and emotionally with brands, it is especially important that brands strive to maintain genuine reputations that reinforce the traits, personalities, values, and causes that Millennials hope that they project about themselves.

    • Relation. Companies must maintain a two-way dialogue with Millennial consumers. They must listen to them, incorporate their feedback and input, and quickly respond to them and their concerns in a personal and straightforward manner.

    • Referral. To build brand loyalty and persuade Millennials to be positive advocates of their brands, companies must build an ongoing relationship through individual and online community communications, social media, and advocacy programs.