Yes, Millennials are different than other generations, but they're really not that hard to understand. If there's something businesses should know, it's that in order for Millennials to be loyal to your brand, they have to really connect with your brand. Here are five proven methods your business can authentically connect with Millennails.

1. Make an emotional connection.

When your brand can tap into a Millennial's emotions, your chances of developing a more valuable customer relationship increases exponentially. Use your products, services and in-store experience to help customers feel confident, improve their work or personal life and/or support a cause they believe in.

It's also common knowledge that Millennials like healthier food options and are enticed by imagery. So in 2015, Whole Foods opened new stores called 365 by Whole Foods. The objective here was to make healthy living easy and budget-friendly for modern shoppers. In its first three stores, Whole Foods used bold visuals, authentic messaging and local details in their in-store environments to better connect emotionally with Millennial customers; and it worked as intended. The opening days for each store were very successful, and that early success continues to this day. There are five current 365 by Whole Foods locations with plans to open 12 more in 2017.

2. Let them tell their story.

Great storytelling has always been in high demand, but in the last few years, storytelling has evolved into the latest marketing rage. Simply put, if you're not currently letting your Milllennial customers share their experiences with your brand, you're missing out.

U.S. Millennials have about $1.3 trillion in yearly buying power, and 74 percent of consumers turn to social media to inform their buying decisions. Millennials have a voice and want to use it, and they're also interested in other people's stories.

Let Millennialls generate and curate your content. Find Millennials influencers (see related story on influencer marketing) and brand ambassadors to create and share personal content with customers in varying forms for more effective marketing efforts.

3. Get technical.

According to Gallup research, digital experience has the utmost effect on Millennials' engagement with a brand. Compared to other generations, they care the most about technology, and they're the most influenced by technology.

If there's one industry that needs to start incorporating more tech, it's the travel industry. In a recent survey, 80 percent of Millennials took at least one leisure trip in 2016, while the average was 2.38 vacations per Millennial. And in 2015, the most desirable hotel amenity to Millennials was free internet access.

Starwood Hotels and Resorts (see related story) wanted to keep up with this information and Millennial expectation, so a few years ago it launched two new services in some of its hotels: a robotic butler and smartphone-enabled room entry. By making hotel room entry and stay easier with technology and utilizing personal mobile devices, Starwood has opened new doors for its worldwide hotels and customers, and last summer, there were more than 350,000 members registered for its SPG Keyless.

4. Provide convenience (and go green when you can).

Procter & Gamble knows that Millennials want products that offer convenience, so after much research and development, Tide Pods were launched in 2012. Instead of people buying large bottles of laundry detergent and using more than needed or not enough, now Millennials just have to throw in a small Tide Pod for the perfect wash. And it's not just the convenience Millennials like; Tide Pods are also energy-efficient, which is another reason why this generation quickly got behind this product.

5. Don't make assumptions. Ask and listen.

You may think you know your ideal customers, but never make assumptions. If you want to know what someone likes or wants, you need to either ask them or leverage social media listening to better understand what they are actively seeking out amongst their peers. A good example of this is Mountain America Credit Union who decided to really listen to its Millennial customers and employees.

Today, Millennials make up about half of MACU's net new member growth and 70 percent of its staff. And this credit union has been able to do that not just by surveys and focus groups like many companies rely on, but through advisory councils at local high schools. They meet with them monthly to discuss their banking pain points, to get their input on design and find out how financial institutions can better provide simple solutions to help Millennials have good financial futures.

Instead of making assumptions, MACU regularly asks its employees and customers what they want, and then uses their feedback to make more strategic business and marketing decisions geared toward this generation.

Get your slice of $1.3 trillion in annual buying power

If you're looking to attract more Millennials customers into your business, incorporate these five proven methods to attract and retain this powerful generation of buyers. For more on this incredible generation, check out this inspiring story of Amanda Holmes, learn why Millennials don't trust advertising and better understand the sad truth about Millennials' retirement savings.

There's lots to understand about the Millennial generation if you are to attract and retain them as your customers. The good news is that a lot of research has already been compiled and key learnings are readily available.

Published on: May 25, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.