The Do’s and Don’ts of Marketing to Millennial ParentsIf you're marketing to millennials, maybe it's time to question whether your preconceptions match reality.
Nothing in your life changes you quite like having a child, and as the oldest millennials approach age 40, nearly half of the generation identifies as parents.
According to “Millennial Marketing Guy” Jeff Fromm, the No. 1 predictor of change within the millennial cohort is the presence of a child in the household. Fromm, partner at the ad agency Barkley and author of “Millennials with Kids,” said the time and financial pressures associated with parenthood significantly change the ability to live the “typical millennial lifestyle, searching for affordable adventures and things like that.”
If millennials are in your small business’s target market, it may be time to question if your preconceptions match reality. Here’s a rundown of what makes millennial parents different from their peers and what those differences might mean for your marketing strategy.
Don’t assume all millennials are the same
If you didn’t know, not all millennials are tech bros wearing hoodies and selfie-snapping college students.
“Each generation is as diverse as the individuals which comprise it,” explained Jasmine Glasheen, writer and generational marketer for Retail Minded. “When people think of millennials, too often they imagine the youngest segment of the generation. Millennials are a very diverse category. Stereotyping generations leads to grossly ineffective (and at times offensive) marketing campaigns.”
Related: How to Sell to Millennials
When millennials start a family, their perspectives change drastically, said Fromm. They have new pressures that millennials without kids don’t have.
“They have another person in their household that requires attention and time. And all the associated costs with having that child diminishes their ability to have the affordable adventures that are the trademark of millennial culture,” he said.
Do identify common threads across your target millennial segments
According to the Pew Research Center, millennials currently make up the largest population segment in the U.S., at an estimated 79.8 billion people. When marketing to such a large and diverse group, Glasheen advised small business owners identify and focus their efforts on a subset within the broader millennial generation bracket.
“Look at which segment of millennial data applies to your specific business, instead of looking at millennials as one big demographic. Evaluate factors such as the economics, location and ethnicity to better target your millennial customers,” she said.
Do create valuable, just-in-time content
Millennials with kids are looking for brands to help simplify their life, said Fromm. To that end, it’s critical that business owners and marketers understand the customer journey and provide “just-in-time” content that help these consumers arrive at a purchase decision.
“Understand what their buying cycle is related to parenting and make sure they get just-in-time content before they need to make just-in-time purchases. In the U.S. the consumer is mobile-first. In other parts of the world they are mobile only, so just-in-time content becomes really important,” he said.
According to Fromm, just-in-time content is all about providing helpful information available in a parent’s moment of need. Help your customers make a better choice about the product they’re considering, and they’re more likely to trust you and your brand.
Don’t fake it
Being transparent and genuine are two other critical traits for marketing to millennial parents, said Fromm.
“Try to avoid being something you’re not as a brand, because they will figure out,” he said. “Don’t try to be a conscious capitalist brand if you’re not. If your employees would say your communication is inaccurate, then there’s a pretty good chance consumers will figure it out. That’s a nice litmus test: If you try to fake it — or fake anything else for that matter — it doesn’t play out well. There’s so much access to information and [these consumers] can sniff it out.”
Do be innovative
“Innovation is probably the most important thing for most brands trying to reach this segment,” said Fromm. “Whether you’re a healthcare brand or a homebuilder, it’s important to think about how their needs are different than prior generations.”
Focus on ways your business can help simplify their lives, he said.
“Anything you can do to save me time and save me money. Give me small affordable adventures I can do with a small child — which is different than a small affordable adventure you can do if you’re single or if you’re in a relationship without a child.”
Remember, millennial parents are not broke, unemployed and sitting in their parents’ basements surrounded by participation trophies, said Fromm. By the time they start families, they typically have an established career. Find ways for your brand can make their lives easier, and meet them where they are.