What Mobile Millennials Want: Structure Without Obligation
Marketing to millennials is tricky. But columnist Anthony Bursi explains how brands can step up to the challenge and woo this fickle generation.
We’re all so busy these days. If it’s not work, it’s drinks with old friends or a date with a neglected Netflix queue. But what’s actually keeping us busy?
The average American male works 12 fewer hours a week compared with 40 years ago, according to The Economist. A significant rise in women’s paid work and advances in technology contributed to a 35 percent decline in unpaid household and childcare work, The Atlantic reported.
Furthermore, research indicates that as wealth grows and leisure time increases, the perception of feeling busy skyrockets. This particular group is referred to as the “Harried Leisure Class,” a term coined by Swedish economist Staffan Linder that, to a degree, describes millennials.
I don’t want to overgeneralize, but the challenge of marketing to millennials exists because they are so unlike their parents’ generation.
Millennials don’t want a car, a house (just yet), or a TV, according to Goldman Sachs. Why would they when Uber gets them around, Airbnb offers a new place to stay wherever they go, and Netflix can be streamed on most mobile devices? The common thread between these mobile services is flexibility and availability.
Growing up with the Internet acclimated this generation to the power of instant feedback, and the companies that rethink strict memberships and forced loyalty are likely to thrive.
Below are a few companies using the mobile space to engage this indecisive audience by working around their aversion to planning, streamlining the activities they should pay attention to, and presenting said information in a flexible context relevant to them.
Every brand aiming to reach Millennials should learn something from these companies’ approaches and apply the lessons to their own businesses and apps — either tailoring their products and services to meet this generation’s needs, or at least focusing marketing efforts to highlight aspects of their offerings likely to be most appealing.
Business Insider claims successful millennials use their spare time doing a wide range of activities from traveling and hiking to doing charitable work and actively updating their social networks. As a millennial, I find this list daunting and can’t imagine penciling these activities into my current schedule.
Apps like Sosh organize daily and weekend activities into a seamless list that caters to the whims of the unplanned. Categories like Active & Outdoor, Shows & Entertainment, and Date Spots provide interesting, plan-able events, while the weekly view mixes food, drink and events that are sorted by time of day.
By appealing to the varying moods of the consumer, Sosh aids in the decision-making process. What’s more, the app allows for location-based searches for coffee, a quick bite, hidden urban parks, pop-up art shows, and more. It perfectly combines the whimsy and intrigue of what’s out there with an easily navigable way of sorting through it all.
Additionally, Sosh sends timely push notifications with interesting, sometimes provocative, copy designed for opens. The messages I tend to respond to most are sent during the late afternoon on Fridays and offer three ideas for a great weekend.
Gametime & Hotel Tonight
Just as millennials crave flexibility when it comes to attractions, they expect the same for events that require tickets and reservations.
Gametime offers easy access to last-minute sports tickets, from basketball to hockey. Like Sosh, the user experience is clean. Tickets are organized by discount, price and section with accompanying images that depict the view from purchased seats. Pulling the trigger on what seats to buy becomes much easier when the information is clearly displayed and the experience in the app matches the experience in the ballpark.
For more personalized content, Gametime could allow users to submit preferences on stadium sections and prices, then follow up with a targeted push notification.
Allowing for flexibility is proving beneficial for even the most rigid of industries: hotels. Similar to Gametime, Hotel Tonight offers last-minute deals on hotel stays.
The all-mobile company capitalizes on the spontaneous nature of millennials by promoting “hand-selected hotels where’d we want to stay too” and “life less planned” via a slick app experience.
The short list of hotels is highly curated and organized by millennial-friendly tags like “Luxe” and “Hip.” Each hotel is accompanied by an overview of amenities as well as a brief description of the neighborhood. For the on-the-go generation, it’s a perfect mix of laissez-faire attitude and structured choice.
Helping millennials make a one-time buying decision is different than convincing them of a monthly subscription. However, there’s still room for flexibility.
Take ClassPass, for example. Instead of getting one gym membership that you may tire of after a few visits, ClassPass offers a variety of classes and sessions every day for a reoccurring monthly fee. Working out isn’t easy, but choosing a nearby hot yoga session or spin class is.
By offering millennials the chance to have a routine that is still in their control, ClassPass succeeds in marrying spontaneity with structure. Plus, there’s always the opportunity to cancel.
Overall, engaging millennials is a shaky effort. They’re a group that doesn’t like to be defined, yet needs structure like everyone else. They like not having plans but still experience anxiety with increased leisure time.
By limiting options and keeping content relevant, the decision-making process becomes easier. Mobile brands that leverage themselves as experts, provide structure, and allow for flexibility are making the right moves towards influencing a fickle generation.