The rules of marketing have changed dramatically in the Web 2.0 era and while the capabilities that advancements in technology have brought cannot be ignored, their impact should not be viewed without acknowledgement of the enormous changes in social attitudes which have evolved with them.
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Perhaps the greatest levels of social change have occurred within the millennial generation, adults now in their twenties whose lives have developed concurrently with the evolution of the internet. They are able to remember a time as children when the internet had little to no fixture to today where its influence has grown to an extent whereby for many it dominates both work and social lives.
This segment coveted heavily by businesses for their high levels of disposable income and trend-setting capacity, behave in radically different ways to the previous generation, utilising technology and brands in ways never previously witnessed.
Perhaps the most radical departure from a marketing perspective is the willingness to openly share information with not just a close group of friends and family but a far wider audience of online followers whose personal connection is considerably less well established. With Facebook friends and twitter followers numbering into the hundreds individual tastes are shared with a far wider audience than ever before leaving a digital imprint which will outlast even their own existence.
Although personal content remains a leading priority for the majority of social network users, it is evident that this generation is happy to align itself more strongly with brands than ever before. This extends far beyond the personal identifiers of clothing and FMCG to promote wide ranging products and services for travel and entertainment, technology, media and even utilitarian products including mobile phone providers and educational institutions.
Whilst this increased sharing capacity and acceptance of products in to their personal world obviously has great value for brands, the millennial generation brings two personality traits which need to be well understood in order to maximise the possible benefits which may be reaped from the increased capacity for crowd based promotion.
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Brands need to understand that now more than ever their content needs to be assessed for its relevance, value and ease of understanding, however achieving high initial impact is now a key contributor to a successful campaign.
Secondly is insight, with far greater brand acceptance among the millennial generation there is also conversely a downside of far more visible brand rejection. Those companies whose message is viewed as insincere, whose promotion is seen as cheap are at far greater risk of exposure, with ridicule for poorly contrived campaigns now being commonplace. For example Waitrose’s recent twitter campaign which invited users to incorporate the hashtag #Ionlyshopatwaitrosebeacause showed a clear lack of insight given Waitrose public brand perception combined with the main demographic engaging on twitter.
Sam Wolf , Digital Account Manager, Liveinsights