Millennials now hold over $200 million in combined spending power. With the last of the millennial generation turning 18, this new generation is well underway to overtake their predecessors in the consumer market. In 2015, millennials spent 2.45 trillion dollars in the U.S alone. Moreover, there have been reports suggesting that millennials will control about $7 trillion in liquid assets by the end of the decade.
Millennials are significantly different from their predecessors when it comes to marketing. Having grown up with ready access to technology and a wide variety of shopping options, this generation is slowly reshaping the face of the advertising industry. For instance, millennials have an inherent distrust of ads, with only 1% of them reporting that they trust traditional advertising and instead overwhelmingly rely on peer recommendations. In fact, 91% of millennials would consider buying a product if a friend recommended it. Meanwhile, 28% of younger millennials and 23% of older millennials said that they are more likely not to purchase or use brands if their friends disapprove.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for companies to reach out to millennials and harness the power of their recommendation. Here are five referral program ideas to target millennial customers.
Smartphones and mobile technology have become the primary medium for communication and information sharing among millennials. More than 85% of millennials in the US own smartphones, and U.S. millennials touch their phones 45 times a day. When it comes to shopping, 62% of millennials do their shopping on their phone.
For marketers, this means that all portions of their referral process—from the initial email to the redemption process—must be mobile friendly. In fact, companies should make it a point to make all their online content compatible with mobile devices.
While humans in general are highly visual, millennials are more likely than previous generations to choose visuals over text. With more options than ever, millennials have mastered the concept of skipping written advertisements to go straight for the image of the product that they want to purchase.
Visually pleasing, and even eye-catching design is the key to catching the average millennial’s attention. This holds especially true for referral programs that are seeking to distinguish themselves to this generation. Companies should invest in a referral program design that balances visual appeal with brand values and voice.
Millennials love a personalized experience: 85% of millennials are more likely to make a purchase if it is personalized to their interests. The same must be done when soliciting referrals.
In order to personalize referral requests, it is important to have an understanding of your current customers and advocates. Data collection from your customers should be an ongoing process and will become key in relating to your consumers on a personal basis. For instance, if you have a record of the product that your customer purchased, you should reference that specific product in your call to action. You can also leverage geographical or demographic data to create more specific CTAs.
Millennials care about the world, and they expect their brands to do the same. 75% of millennials donate to charity, and 60% volunteer for a worthy cause. Meanwhile, 76% report that they think more highly of a brand that supports important causes, and 89% of Americans are willing to switch brands to support a cause.
When your customers know that your brand is actively involved either in the community or on a global scale, they are more likely to take pride in shopping with your company. Working with a cause or charity will not only help your brand stand out to consumers, but it can also be incorporated into a loyalty program that incorporates donations in its points structure.
Having essentially grown up online, millennials are highly involved in social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so many are willing to socially support their brands. Millennials are around 2.5 times more likely than boomers to share a social media link, at least occasionally, that references a brand or product and to follow brands on Twitter. This makes social media presence extremely important for brand visibility, but it can also work to expand referral programs.
Marketers can link referral CTAs to social media shareable posts to give consumers the option of sharing the referral on a much larger scale. Social media referral marketing also has the benefit of increased visibility. For instance, a refer-a-friend post that is shared by a customer on social media has the potential to attract several of that customer’s friends at a time, and may even catch the interest of social media contacts that the customer did not think to refer via an email or direct word of mouth.
The above referral program ideas will appeal to millennials and also to tech-savvy members of other generations. Working with millennials on their terms is the best way for brands to remain relevant in today’s market.