Custom promotional products have long been a way to promote a brand to prospective customers, and have generally worked well. But today’s new generation of consumers required different techniques than those of the past. Media-savvy, the generation known as Millennials doesn’t respond to old-school promos. Marketing to Millennials with promo products requires an awareness of how they think.
Who’s a Millennial?
While it’s a fuzzy term, “Millennial” generally means anyone born between 1980 and the mid-1990s. Some demographers extend that a few years earlier on the beginning or a few years later on the end. Very generally speaking, anyone born between 1980 and 1996 fits. This group is also sometimes called “echo boomers,” because of an uptick in birth rates in those years similar to that which produced the Baby Boomers.
In other words, Millennials are between the ages of roughly 20 and 40. They’re moving into their peak earning years and hold a majority of purchasing power in the U.S.A. They’re also moving into decision making positions at work. That makes them worth paying attention to.
How Are They Different?
For starters, they’re the first generation to have grown up with the computer as an integral part of life. They were tech literate before they started school.
With internet access nearly universal for most, if not all, of their lives so far, Millennials have easier access to far more information than did preceding generations. That’s given them a more global outlook on issues such as climate change, air and water pollution, human rights and many other topics.
Their digital acumen also means Millennials are adept at tuning out traditional advertising messages. If it doesn’t resonate with them in some way, they simply ignore the message.
If you’re marketing to Millennials, a strong social media presence is a must. You want your promotional products to be attractive enough and interesting enough to be worthy of pictures and video on Instagram, Snapchat. Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
Get your audience involved. Reach out to them on social media and invite their input. Millennials want to be part of the conversation, not just passive consumers.
OK, So What Works?
It’s important to keep in mind that the generic term “Millennials” covers an age range of nearly 20 years. It’s foolish to apply a “one size fits all” approach to a group that includes both college students and to people literally old enough to be their parents. Whenever possible, narrow your marketing efforts to a more specific subset. Having said that, there are a few tips that can be helpful in general.
Millennials value authenticity and utility. Give them the information they can use, via your website. Don’t just talk about your product. Add lifestyle content that gives younger customers a reason to come back.
The same approach applies to your promotional products. An ordinary cheap pen with your company name on it just won’t cut it anymore. A product that looks and feels cheap won’t get you anywhere.
Raise your sights. Your promotional products need to demonstrate value, something consumers of all ages can appreciate. High-value items that millennials (and others) will use frequently are a guaranteed winner.
A good example is insulated custom tumblers. Yeti, RTIC and other brands have made a big splash in the past few years. Their products are high-quality and deliver what they promise – keeping drinks cold (or hot) for hours at a time.
Now imagine the same tumblers laser-engraved with your brand or logo. That’s something that will keep your brand in front of your target audience, by giving them something they will use.
That doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Private-brand tumblers (often made in the very same factory as the big names) can be substituted for the name brand. As long as you can provide the functionality, the brand of the tumbler isn’t that important.
Another important factor is matching Millennials’ values. Don’t give them a synthetic tote bag. Give them one made of sustainable, organic fabric – cotton, hemp and the like. Respect the things that matter to them with your products, and they’ll respect – and share – your brand.
Tech and Toys
Millennials, as noted previously, are tech-savvy. That makes promotional tech products a great way to reach them. Custom imprinted USB drives, power blocks, phone chargers, Bluetooth speakers and headphones, and similar items are sure to be popular, much-used items.
Don’t forget tech-style toys, too. Fidget cubes which feature switches, knobs, counters and other tactile items are fun. Get your logo imprinted on one side and you’re putting your brand right into consumers’ hands. Low-tech items such as fidget spinners (or the next fad that replaces them) are a good choice as well.
Ultimately, the key to marketing to millennials is the same as marketing to anyone else. Listen to your target audience. Find out what’s relevant to them, then tailor your promotional product to their wants and needs. Communication is the key to successful marketing to any generation.