Digital natives in search of real-life experiences

written by Melina

At Hels Angels we have worked with many brands wanting to target the 16-24 year old market. We have seen lots of trends come and go over the years but with the rise of a new breed of consumer, coined the ‘Millennials’, with different needs than ever before, how can brands adapt to engage effectively with this audience?

The generation born after 1990 is a demanding audience, one that is hard to define, and often reduced to stereotypes about young people being self-absorbed and obsessed with social media. But as Millennials gain more and more spending power (According to Forbes magazine, in the US alone, it is estimated that they will be spending $200 billion annually by 2017), brands need to better understand how to build a lasting relationship with them.

In search of real-life experiences

A growing number of Millennials – including celebrities – are deleting social media accounts, too aware of their own digital footprint, and looking to free themselves from Internet trolls, stalking, FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and a certain sense of jealousy.  Millennials – and particularly Gen Z, the youngest of the Millennials – are eager for more privacy and anonymity, as illustrated by the rise of social networks like Whisper and Secret. But beyond that, they are seeking genuine and memorable real-life experiences. For them, digital and social platforms are a very common thing, and real-life experiences are somewhat rarer, and certainly more valuable.

Live brand experiences to the rescue

Millennials are keen to interact with brands: they want to co-create and collaborate with them, they enjoy branded content with an added value. Brands should look to create live experiences that add value to their customers, distancing themselves from traditional marketing techniques, to provide real excitement and fun. A recent study by the Huffington Post showed that 78% of Millennials were more inclined to interact with a brand if they have a face-to-face interaction with it, which points to the value of live experiences. But they must be authentic and have to make sure that everything, from the strategy to the smallest detail of the implementation, ties in with their audience’s values and actions.

Craving authenticity

Because they have been marketed to their whole life and are solicited by brands at every moment, on every device, Millennials are very aware of marketing, and quite cynical. They will easily detect marketing messages which are not sincere and genuine, especially if they are not in line with a brand’s action. And they will be quick to express their discontent. Millennials want to have a positive impact on the world, and they expect the same of brands. When companies support social issues, 91% of Millennials respond with increased trust, 89% with increased loyalty, and 91% are more likely to purchase the brand’s products (Huffington Post).

Vocal brand advocates

Millennials feel strongly about brands, and they tend to be loyal to those that have a unique personality and share their values. Through genuinely fun and honest experiences, brands can gain loyal customers and brand fans who will share their experiences on various platforms and strongly influence their network. Brands can create advocates and this is the most powerful form of marketing”, says Peter Souter, chairman and chief creative officer of TBWA London, talking recently to Marketing Magazine.

When using brand engagement and live events as a marketing tool, brands need to co-create with their audience, creating authentic live experiences that meet the needs and values of this audience and give Millennials a reason to share – both on and offline