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. 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. 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 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.