Marketing guru and consumer trends analyst, Babs Ryan, shares her tips on how your company can better target the increasingly influential Gen Z market
If you really want to win brand loyalty from millennial consumers, stop thinking about them as a segment, focus on their passion points and community connections, and make sure you’re offering them physical experiences they don’t want to miss out on.
Those are just a few words of wisdom from marketing strategy commentator, futurist and consumer trends analyst, Babs Ryan, who was in Sydney this week to talk about how financial services firms can win over the increasingly influential and important millennial market as part of her role at ThoughtWorks.
Ryan boasts of six patents, and has developed innovative consumer and marketing solutions for more than 200 companies across 80 countries. She’s also held executive leadership and innovation at Standard Chartered Bank, Fidelity (investments), Citibank UK, GE Capital, Western Union and American Express.
Of course, it’s not just financial services firms that are struggling to work out how to address the younger generation of consumers. Every sector, from retail to automotive, is looking at how they better engage with millennials and often come up short.
“People are giving lots of reasons for why they can’t engage with millennials – they are apathetic, they’re entitled, or they just don’t have the money,” Ryan told CMO. “While some of this might be true for some people, as a group they aren’t apathetic, or disinterested in the future. What they’re interested in is maintaining or having a more exciting lifestyle full of rich experiences. They’re less likely to want things; what they do want is to have more experiences they can talk about.”
The key way of attracting them therefore is to offer something they are afraid to miss out on, Ryan said.
“No one is afraid of missing out on a transaction account or a personal loan, but they are afraid of missing out on a great holiday to learn paddle-boarding, or the party all their friends are invited to,” she pointed out. “If you can tap into those things they want to do and experience, you’re halfway there getting to talking to them.”
Embrace passion points but don’t rely on segmentation
In a recent presentation, Wunderman’s global CMO, Jamie Getfreund, argued Generation Z not only demands consistency and authenticity from brands, they also expect marketers to know who they are, their passion points, interests and values, then reflect these accurately.
While agreeing all of these things are crucial, one mistake Ryan said too many brands are making is to see millennials as a segment or cluster of segments, such as those still in university, or individuals having their first children and getting married.
“There is a real problem in dealing with segments. The way of marketing to millennials now – whether it’s shopping, financial services – is treating them as segments of one,” she said. “This isn’t about personalisation by saying their name, it’s about offering them the things they are most interested in.”
The other problem with creating passion points and interests is that they can be ironic, Ryan continued. In financial services, for example, most millennials don’t want anything to do with financial management. A Nielsen study in 68 developed countries found millennials don’t want to budget, or be concerned by moving money or institutions. In addition, Australians are the most self-dependent consumers when it comes to make financial decisions.
“So in financial services, you have a paradox of not wanting to deal with them myself, but don’t want someone else doing it for me,” she said. “That becomes a question of what to digitise versus not.”
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