Marketing to the millennial woman in the age of the internet | HT Brand Leadership Series

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Marketing to the millennial woman in the age of the internet

  • Karan Kumar
  • 19th Dec

Very few titles are packed with as much excitement as this one, given the sheer number of buzzwords it contains—marketing, millennials, women, internet.

This is a subject that particularly invokes very strong interest in me, partly because I have spent most of the last 18 years marketing to women in an ecosystem where the internet is unequivocally the biggest influencer that has ever been – certainly in the last couple of decades, and growing stronger with every passing month.

Millennials, though, are a very different and unique audience set in themselves. Most definitions would recognize them as those born between the 80s and the mid-90s, pretty much overlapping with what is popularly called Gen Y.

Consequently, they would be anywhere between 22 and 38 years of age today. For added context, millennials constitute 25% of the US population, representing a purchasing capacity in excess of $600 billion. What makes them even more interesting is that around 25% of them are parents themselves, and around 50% live with families that have children. This makes millennial moms particularly important constituents of the overall pyramid, given their added importance when it comes to being targeted for kids’ products as well.

As a marketer, I treat this generation—women and moms included—with utmost care and respect. I do that because this sub-group is not only highly discerning, but also very “cool and aspirational”. Unlike the people of previous generations, millennials are highly educated and focussed; they are also early adopters of technology and “socially” connected.

Further, more than 50% of them want to start their own enterprises.

The digital wave

The times we live in make the millennials an even greater force to reckon with. As per recent reports from Google and BCG, India has more than 600 million internet users in India, with around 40 million added in just the last five years. This has been fuelled by an extremely potent mix of reducing data costs, improving data quality, and, of course, the availability of high-quality smartphones at relatively low prices.
With regard to what is being consumed, the charts are led by video, chat, and VoIP, in that order. In fact, it is forecasted that by 2023, India will have 900 million internet users, with 750 million consuming it on mobile devices. Of that, close to 650 million will be consuming video in platforms led by various OTT players.

So, what does all of this mean for brands and their marketers?

We live in a world of opportunity, with millennials as one of the most discerning segments of the overall audience pie.

Therefore, marketers must use videos, including OTT platforms, to reach out to them. However, it’s simpler said than done, right?

I will, therefore, propose some pointers on how brands can be more successful in targeting this audience.

  1. Do not sell, inspire instead: Stand for causes that matter, and not broadcast messages around products that you want to sell. It is the larger purpose that stimulates millennials and makes them take notice brands that support them.
  2. Be honest in your communication with them: Millennials dig authenticity and respect transparent conversations on values that are dear to you. If those values find resonance in them, they will embrace you, not needing to see your display and banner advertising.
  3. Encourage ‘social proofing’: Millennials view all forms of conventional advertising with a high degree of suspicion. What they value is recommendations from people they know (friends and family) or they follow and respect (key influencers). So, put your product out there confidently, encourage people to review it and be prompt in responding to the reviews you receive, even if they are not flattering.
  4. Creatively challenge and engage them: Get into conversations with millennials. Let them co-create. Let them use and post user-generated content, be it DIY styling or fusion recipes. Get them to share their viewpoints. Be truthful in your feedback to them as well, as it will earn you their respect and, perhaps, even referrals.
  5. Embrace their ecosystem: Step out of your comfort zone. Millennials are driven by social media. Are you with them on their platforms of choice? Are you familiar with the new features of these platforms? Brands must explore new platforms, technologies, and features that millennials will adopt early.

Finally, and most importantly, all digital efforts of the brand need to be smartphone-friendly.

Millennials need to be honestly and painstakingly nurtured. They need to be challenged and engaged. At the end of the day, brands that don’t pull “wool over their eyes” will be the ones to forge long-standing and mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Karan Kumar
Chief Brand & Marketing
Officer, Fabindia

With a focus on storytelling to drive conversations, Karan has led several brands to category and industry leadership positions. He is a founding member of The Marketing Society in India, has been selected twice to present his research papers at the ESOMAR Asia Pacific conferences. You can find his writings on his blog that goes by the name of ‘Bolder Marketing’.