How to Market to People Who Hate Marketing

Millennials have changed the face of the world in so many ways: culture, technology and business to name just a few. As this group grows to represent an ever-larger share of the consumer market, one characteristic of this cohort, in particular, can be extremely vexing for marketing professionals: they—even more than previous generations—dislike and distrust marketing and advertising. So what can you do about that?

As Matt Bryant writes for PPR Worldwide, “millennials, the first generation of digital natives (grew up using computers), don’t respond to traditional advertising and marketing tactics as past generations did. A recent study found that 84 percent of millennials don’t like traditional advertising nor do they trust it.”

The key to tapping into the millennial market, therefore, is through engagement – a two-way conversation rather than a one-way, targeted advertising campaign. Daniel Newman, writing for Forbes, points out that millennials are more prone to communication with each other and are influenced by each other—moreso than they are influenced by advertising campaigns. They will go to their personal and social networks to determine whether something is worth buying, says Newman. “They use this collective filter to sort out research and other word-of-mouth style information when making decisions,” he writes. Marketing Mag supports this conclusion with a similar observation, indicating that consumers don’t want to feel marketed to—they want to feel listened to and understood. Brands that don’t get this, “run the risk of fading into irrelevance as more consumers switch off,” says the article.

Based on this knowledge, marketers hoping to engage with millennials should consider platforms that allow for two-way communication. Social media and message boards are great avenues for consumers to share their experiences with each other and feel as though their input is being valued and considered by the organizations hoping to secure their business. Establishing a presence, and engaging in interactions, through social media channels frequented by your target audience is an important first step in developing strong consumer relationships.

Just because millennials don’t like traditional advertising doesn’t mean they aren’t buying goods and services, and it doesn’t mean that marketers can’t influence their purchasing decisions. What it does mean is that marketers have to look at new ways of reaching this increasingly affluent group by engaging with them, rather than advertising to them.

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