There is an old belief that drives most brands' marketing strategies to Millennials: 18-to 24-year-olds don't have disposable income. The problem is that this forces a brand to run discounts and gimmicks, or to focus on the cheapest entry-level product within the brand.

However, the belief is not true across the board, and it's especially not true about the group of Millennials who are driving trends. Whether it's the first million early adapters of a social media platform, the discoverers of a new band, the amplifiers of a new fashion trend, or the drivers of a political cultural movement, Millennial influencers are driving national cultural trends.

Many of these trends start on college campuses, where many Millennial influencers live in high-end apartments and condos. Some live in fraternity and sorority houses that rival hotels in amenities and services, with late-model luxury car brands parked in out front. USA Today even reported that University of Alabama has over $202 million worth of Greek houses being built.

Millennials find money to buy what they want, especially the individuals who are driving trends. Money is not the object, but an experience is. You want your brand to be on these individuals' mind.

Myth 1: Gimmicks or discounts.

Millennial influencers don't fall for discounts, coupons, freebies, samples, or contests. They are very aware that if this brand/product has to discount to get their attention, then it must not be very good.

Myth 2: The "Millennial offering."

A second mistake brands make is trying to highlight their "Millennial offering." Influencers don't jump for the "Millennial-focused" product. For example, car companies have invested billions of dollars to attract Millennials to subcompact cars. But a recent study we performed with over 1,000 participants showed that only 2 percent of Millennial influencers want subcompact cars. They aspire to the nicer midsize cars and entry-level luxury models.

Myth 3: Social is key.

Well, kind of. Many brands get on social just because they think they're supposed to be there. The problem is that they're then forced to post boring comments all about themselves. Millennial influencers view this as they would the annoying friend who posts mundane status updates about his personal life all day long. It can come off as self-promotional and turn off the Millennial audience.

There is a better way to connect with Millennials that will get you the results you want without falling back on the methods mentioned above. First, focus on why your product or brand is better. Millennials buy the product they think is the best or most on trend. For example, the iPhone is always more expensive than cheaper Android brands, and yet continues outsell Android by multiples. Millennials will buy what their friends are using and talking about.

When Millennial influencers find value in a product, they are more likely to talk about it, consider it, buy it, and, most important, tell their highly connected friends about it.

 

Published on: Jan 20, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.