When it comes to the generation that added “selfie” to the dictionary, the best way your business can maintain its appeal is by building a brand that revolves all around the customer. Millennials and Generation Z determine their own personal brand value by the number of “likes” their posts receive, how many retweets they’ve gotten, the number of followers they’ve collected, and the number of comments they’ve generated. In addition to these figures, they are constantly monitoring their reception. They’re not only looking at quantity but at quality, as well — meaning they also consider who is liking their posts. For example, getting a retweet from someone with 10,000 followers holds a lot more weight than a retweet from someone with fewer than 500 followers. Marketing strategy consultant Jeff Fromm emphasizes in his book “Marketing to Millennials” that successful marketing involves helping to build the personal brands of one’s consumer base.
- Have Spirit
Today’s younger generations value positive energy and promoting change, as evidenced by their greater attention to products and brand messages that emphasize some kind of higher purpose. For example, younger audiences are highly supportive (with their wallets and their social media accounts) of Toms Shoes, a brand that structures its image around giving back. Focusing on creating a more meaningful brand was the main subject discussed at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. Virgin CEO, Richard Branson, even formed The B Team to better develop purpose-driven business with the top thought leaders and business masters in the world.
- Keep it Simple
According to a 2012 report from the Harvard Business Review, consumers today value business models that simplify purchase decisions. The data suggests young consumers reward brands that offer transparent choices, omnichannel purchase opportunities, and straight, reader-friendly facts. Having this type of information available allows the consumer to appear more knowledgeable, sensible and sophisticated, which is a small boost for the brand.
- Build Trust
Younger buyers have high standards for data security, which isn’t always easy to provide from the perspective of small- to medium-sized businesses. In addition to making greater efforts to prevent cybercrime and other security issues, businesses need to promote honesty and integrity as a part of their brand image. Consumers need transparency, and with the level of round-the-clock engagement offered by social media today, you have every opportunity to fulfill this need. Once again, this tactic involves structuring your brand image around what you can offer your buyers. Security just so happens to be a top value of younger audiences.
- Personalize Down to the Details
Millennials are a creative generation, always on the lookout for new ways to collaborate, offer feedback, personalize and speak openly about the brands in their lives. This is the same generation that raised the stakes for identity politics — the one that demanded and ultimately received customizable emoji skin colors. A brand built on innovation and customer feedback will prove successful for buyers who are eager for self-expression and personalization.