Marketers around the world have spent billions of dollars trying to gain insights about that elusive Millennial generation.
We've also been engaged in a number of our own research studies targeted at Generation Y, including an ethnographic study – “The Millennial Research Project” – which we conducted in 2016-17 with PRPD. It was an expansive project featuring ethnography, which involved spending a great deal of time observing Millennials in their natural habitats – at home, at work, shopping, and in school.
Yes, we gleaned actionable insights about what Millennials value most – transparency and authenticity often get mentioned when marketing to this generation.
We also learned they love podcasts, respect diversity, increasingly buy vinyl records, and share an interest in their local communities. Many were dealt a rough hand, especially the older segment of this generation, having suffered through the Great Recession, an awful job market, and onerous student loans.
And perhaps those economic woes that spiked a decade ago speak volumes about new research revealing that perhaps we've been overthinking this Gen Y puzzle. Maybe there's an easier way into the hearts and minds of Millennials that most marketers have overlooked.
They love free stuff – stickers, coupons, freebies – swag.
A new story in eMarketer by Jen King says it all: “How to Turn Millennials into Repeat Shoppers? Give Them Free Stuff.”
All the aforementioned values matter, of course. But King reports on a recent survey by Dotcom Distribution, an online fulfillment company, indicating that small gestures, giveaways, and even that occasional surprise can be a difference-maker for Millennials.
That said, free stuff might also drive recommendations – or word of mouth. The study notes that even “a small token” included in an online order can drive brand advocacy.
Our Techsurveys show Millennials have a propensity to recommend to begin with. While our average score across all demos for recommending radio stations to others clocks in at a 44, those Gen Yers are above a 50. They want to talk about brands, but may need a little motivation.
Free stuff might be one of the simple links that drives customer evangelism among the youngest segment of radio audiences.
In this space, we have talked about radio's deficit when it comes to merch, freebies, swag, and logoware. Budget pullbacks that started back in the 90s continue to leave many radio brands empty-handed at events or when visitors drop by the station.
But technology has made any radio brand's ability to merchandize itself affordable. Rather than committing to large orders that may or may not end up gathering dust in the “prize closet,” online stores fulfill orders on-demand, eliminating the barrier to entry.
For strong stations with logos that listeners truly want to display, online sales generate profits that can be plowed back into some of the most valuable merch ever: freebies for the audience.
And then there's stickers – an item that has become passé over the decades. One of the excuses? Consumers don't want to display their radio choices on their cars.
But a look at our smartphones and social pages show that free stickers are the rage – a highly popular, visual representation of feelings, attitudes, humor, and emotions.
Simple sticker programs that are part of station apps can be designed and produced for less than the cost of a couple dozen t-shirts. In an online world where sharing, winking, waving, and acknowledging are all part of the ways in which consumers communicate with one another, radio can be more than bystanders.
A little swag, a surprise now and then, or a free tchotchke when a fan celebrates a birthday can produce more results than expensive mass marketing campaigns. Logo merch is more personal than direct mail, billboards, and Facebook ads.
And it just might encourage a young, connected, enthusiastic consumer to talk about radio.
And happy 50th birthday to our friends at WMMR, Philadelphia, celebrating a half century of making magic on the local Philly airwaves.
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