Now numbering nearly 80 million, millennials are the largest living generation in the United States, and thanks to immigration, the population of millennials will continue to increase until 2036. Furthermore, with $3.39 trillion in spending power, millennials currently have the most consumer influence of any generation — which presents challenges for brands who want to tap into that spending.

Unfortunately for many companies, traditional marketing strategies haven’t been hitting the mark for millennials. Only 6 percent of millennials consider online advertising to be credible, and 84 percent don’t trust traditional advertising. On the other hand, 95 percent of millennials believe their friends are the most credible sources of information about products.

That isn’t to say, of course, that millennials are completely turned off by marketing and advertising — brands simply have to be smarter and more creative. 43 percent of millennials rank authenticity over content when consuming information about products and services, 60 percent are often or always loyal to brands they purchase, and 72 percent say they have a positive view of brands that provide great experiences. Millennials may be the most tech-savvy generation, but they’re often also the most disconnected; as a result, they yearn for authentic experiences they can share with others.

Experiential Marketing

At this year’s SXSW, HBO created The Escape, a visitor experience that transformed the sets of Veep, Silicon Valley, and Game of Thrones into escape rooms, a popular millennial trend where participants are tasked with uncovering clues and escaping a locked room within the time limit provided. Also at SXSW, National Geographic promoted their new scripted series, Genius — about renown physicist and intellectual Albert Einstein — with an augmented reality experience involving elaborate holograms.

Both of these are examples of experiential marketing (also called engagement or participation marketing), a strategy that directly engages consumers by encouraging them to participate in a brand experience, thereby actively developing a relationship with that brand — potentially even before any products or services have been purchased. And media companies aren’t the only brands using experiential marketing: to promote their new photo app, Google hit the streets of Austin, Texas with “Cupcake Ambush,” where passersby were encouraged to earn treats by taking photos.

In order for companies to leverage experiential marketing effectively, they should follow these six tips:

1. Link campaigns to social media.
2. Ensure instant gratification.
3. Demonstrate responsible corporate citizenship.
4. Invite customers to join the conversation.
5. Prioritize authentic experiences over product giveaways.
6. Be informed and honest with your company’s intentions.
7. Measure effectiveness with data.

The ubiquity of ad blockers and subscription (rather than cable) television reflects a disdain for traditional advertising on the part of millennials. If your company wants to appeal to these skeptical, tech-savvy consumers, consider leveraging experiential marketing techniques to build genuine relationships and brand loyalty with your audience.

Contact Fraser Communications for more ideas and ways we can help your brand with experiential marketing.