How To Build And Maintain Cultural & Generational Relevance With Millennials

There was a time when a brand or company’s primary focus could simply be placed on developing and selling quality products and services. Those who talked the loudest and/ or talked the most would win out. Advertising was king. You simply told your customers you were the best and maybe had a few paid celebrities say that they use your brand or product and you were good to go. That was enough.

That is no longer the case my friends. You can not simply advertise yourself to consumer loyalty and market-share dominance. You need to build meaningful and sustainable relationships with your customers. You can no longer just just tell them what you want them to know about your brand via monologue. There has to be a dialogue, and even trialogue. You have to invite them in and let them really get to know you and have a genuine interest in getting to know them. And as the saying goes, “you don’t really know someone until you live with them”. It’s great to conduct research on your customer and collect data that speaks to their shopping habits, spending power and purchase intent. However, until you become an active member and participant in their community and invite them into your home and break bread with them, you will never really connect with them in a meaningful way. Brands have to focus on the brand’s relevance.

Achieving brand relevance is about relationship building. Having quality product is a point of entry in today’s marketplace. That’s just expected. To build a strong relationship you have to get to know them and they have to get to know you. They need to see you regularly. They need to hear from you. You need to listen to them and they need to know that what they think matters to you. This can not be done simply through secondary research. That is the equivalent of along distance relationship. And trust me ladies and gentlemen, you don’t want somebody else being there for them, to hear them voice and express their pains, concerns, frustrations and fears. If you are not there for them, there is somebody else gladly waiting on the sideline to fill that void.

The Millennial generation is the most culturally diverse generation ever. This generation also represents a new era of consumer mindset that is much different than any generation before them with completely new expressions and new expectations. If your organization does not have a culturally and generationally diverse workforce that represents the very millennial consumer you are expecting to reach, you are in essence in a long distance relationship. Having a culturally and generationally diverse workforce allows you the internal insight and perspective that comes naturally and intuitively. Your organization’s ability to adopt and embrace the interests, opinions and influences of cultural and generational diversity within your own company creates a corporate culture that provides you with an organic Culturational Chemistry with millennials. This should not replace research and planning but it will increase your cultural and generational relevance. It will enhance your Culturational Chemistry.

7 Keys to Achieving Culturational Chemistry with Millennials:

  1. Decide you want to be relevant – This may sound simple, but everything starts with a decision. Many brands feel as though they can continue doing things they way they always done them and continue to win because it’s worked in the past. Technology, consumer mindset, media, lifestyle choices and economic climate have all changed how marketing needs to be done. Creating relevance needs to be the goal in everything you do.
  2. Believe you can be relevant – Some of you don’t think your brand, product or service has the ability to be relevant because its not cool. Don’t mistake being cool for being relevant. Cool is relative. Relevance is about identifying shared values and shared DNA between your brand and the consumer. If insurance brands like Geico and Allstate can be relevant so can you.
  3. Profess your relevance – Thats right, say it out loud. Then right it down. There is power in our words. When we say something out loud to ourselves and write it down, it forces us to focus on it more and increases the likelihood of us pursuing it. It also makes us accountable to others to take action steps and follow through.
  4. Assess your organizational make up – Take a look around the company. Does everyone look the same, act the same and talk the same. Then you need to diversify. Brands will obviously have target consumers that fall into a certain segmentation profile, but it doesn’t matter what your brand, product or service is, consumers of diverse cultural, racial and ethnic backgrounds will fall into that segment. If you do not have an organization that reflects the diverse society of consumers that you serve, then you are failing your Culturational Chemistry Test.
  5. Diversify & Include – These two words should always go together; Diversity & Inclusion. If you have assessed and you have a diverse organization, then you are probably winning more often than not. Make sure that you don’t stop there though. Include and integrate those diverse talents, voices and perspectives throughout the organization and don’t just compartmentalize that talent into a division that only focuses on people that look like them. That is not the world that we live in. Creating climates of inclusion is how you will keep the diverse talent that you have internally fired up and valued to help you better connect with the diverse audience externally.
  6. Collaborate internally and externally – The business approach has always been to identify new ways to make money off of consumers and employees. Explore ways to not only make money OFF of them, but look for ways to make money WITH them. Millennials are a very entrepreneurial and creative culture that sees themselves as brands and media assets. They have ideas and they want those ideas to be shared. Partner with them where appropriate to use your brand power to help them tell their story while magnifying your brand story. Digital,Social & Mobile (DSM) platforms should be seamlessly integrated in EVERYTHING that you do when engaging this audience. Otherwise your relevance is destroyed right out the gate.
  7. Stay Thirsty My Friend – Take a tip from The Most Interesting Man in The World. Don’t rest on your laurels just because you feel as though you have a diverse enough team that you know all that you need to know about the cultural and generational nuances of millennials. Develop a system of ongoing insights that will help you to stay current and maintain your relevance with this ever changing group.

“In a world of change, the learners shall inherit the earth, while the learned shall find themselves perfectly suited for a world that no longer exists.” ― Eric Hoffer #NoShortcuts

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