Marketing To Millennials: 3 Simple Ways To Engage Visual Buyers

Brands that tap into expe­ri­en­tial imagery will help cre­ate an unfor­get­table shop­ping expe­ri­ence for mil­len­ni­al con­sumers. Here’s why.

Matt Langie By Matt Langie from Curalate. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Mil­len­ni­al con­sumers are expe­di­tious con­tent con­sumers and always-on shop­pers. Their grow­ing spend­ing pow­er indi­cates that there’s a lot on the line for brands. Mar­keters who don’t tap into expe­ri­en­tial images and turn them into action­able pieces of con­tent will risk los­ing the­se pow­er­ful shop­pers to com­pet­ing retail­ers.

In the ear­ly days of ecom­merce, con­sumers relied on lit­tle more than a stock image, a brand-craft­ed pro­duct descrip­tion and may­be a few tex­tu­al reviews to guide them. Things are a bit more com­plex the­se days. With more than 2.6 bil­lion images shared on a dai­ly basis, con­sumers are in an end­less state of con­tent over­load. Some­thing new is pub­lished every mil­lisec­ond, mak­ing it impos­si­ble to con­sume every­thing that piques one’s inter­est. The per­va­sive­ness of images means one thing for mar­keters: They need to strive to break through the noise. Because dig­i­tal images are now so core to the human expe­ri­ence, con­sumers are hold­ing brands to high­er stan­dards. Stock images just won’t cut it in the sea of imagery peo­ple are swim­ming in each day. To reach mil­len­ni­al con­sumers in par­tic­u­lar, brands need to go above and beyond in their imagery. The­se shop­pers are high­ly cog­nizant of how mar­keters com­mu­ni­cate with them. And ulti­mate­ly, mil­len­ni­als do not want to be mar­ket­ed to; they want to be engaged. The best way to do that is by using images to cre­ate expe­ri­ences. A July 2014 Eventbrite sur­vey found that 78 per­cent of mil­len­ni­als would rather put mon­ey toward a desir­able expe­ri­ence over a desir­able thing. This is not an indi­ca­tion that mil­len­ni­als don’t see the joy in own­ing new prod­ucts. It’s a sig­nal that brands need to make the shop­ping expe­ri­ence an unfor­get­table one. Here are three sim­ple ways mar­keters can engage visu­al buy­ers.

1. Share Your Fans’ Experiences (Legally!)

There’s noth­ing like see­ing some­one else unbox a new gad­get or take pride in own­ing a new hand­bag on Insta­gram. It invokes a sense of desire with­in mil­len­ni­al con­sumers, mak­ing them want to expe­ri­ence the­se things firsthand. There’s a good chance your fans are already shar­ing visu­al con­tent about your brand on dif­fer­ent chan­nels. The most resource­ful thing you can do is to har­ness those images, and share them with poten­tial con­sumers to spark some inspi­ra­tion. You can dri­ve fans to share more con­tent by cre­at­ing a ded­i­cat­ed hash­tag like Forever 21 does with #F21xMe. #f21xme If you hap­pen to find an awe­some pho­to that isn’t tagged, sim­ply ask the fan if you can use it. They’ll like­ly say yes! Curalate data shows that four out of five Insta­gram users give brands per­mis­sion to share their pho­tos.

2. Transform Your Brand Into A Lifestyle

Many brands have already tapped into the idea that expe­ri­ences dri­ve engage­ment by cre­at­ing edi­to­ri­al-style con­tent. By devi­at­ing from tra­di­tion­al pro­duct shots and mak­ing pho­tos sym­bol­ic of authen­tic life expe­ri­ences, brands will strike a chord with the mil­len­ni­al demo­graph­ic. Her­schel Sup­ply Co. for exam­ple, isn’t just a com­pa­ny that sells back­packs. It’s a brand that encour­ages trav­el, explo­ration and lim­it­less adven­tures. Herschel Supply Co instagram A quick look at the brand’s pho­tos on Insta­gram shows their prod­ucts in the con­text of the­se expe­ri­ences. Ulti­mate­ly, the plat­form serves a lifestyle des­ti­na­tion for the brand, and it tru­ly works. 

3. Make Your Photos Actionable

Mil­len­ni­al con­sumers have come of age in a world of instant grat­i­fi­ca­tion. Not only do they expect brand images to be engag­ing, but they also want them to be action­able in some way. As a mar­keter, the best way to cater to this expec­ta­tion is by mak­ing your images shop­pable. School­house Elec­tric does this beau­ti­ful­ly on their brand blog. The brand often shares edi­to­ri­al-style images on their blog, and they fea­ture tons of prod­ucts. Typ­i­cal­ly, the­se types of blog posts con­clude with a string of clunky links at the bot­tom to dri­ve back to pro­duct pages – result­ing in a lot of work for the fast-mov­ing mil­len­ni­al con­sumer. Schoolhouse Kitchen Essentials School­house Elec­tric decid­ed to make their blog post images action­able by includ­ing the links with­in them, becom­ing action­able when the user hov­ers over a speci­fic pro­duct fea­tured.

Matt Langie

Written by Matt Langie

CMO, Curalate

As Chief Marketing Officer for Curalate, Matthew Langie leads the company’s integrated marketing efforts worldwide. He joins Curalate from Adobe Systems, where he was responsible for marketing the company’s digital marketing solutions generating over $1.2B in revenue. Langie currently serves as Board Vice Chairman of the Internet Marketing Association, and serves on advisory boards for the University of California-Irvine Internet Marketing Certification program and marketing technology companies MarketLinc and MeetingMatch.

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