Millennials are a cultural force reshaping how brands market because they are unlike any other generation.

How so?

This group, 80 million strong, commands more than $600 billion in purchase power each year and offers an estimated $10 trillion in lifetime spending, thanks to its digital savvy, which influences multiple generations.

Getting Millennials "through the door" shouldn't be your focus though--because they're a fickle bunch and they move fast. This doesn't mean retention isn't possible, but it does mean you need to stay equally nimble to have a chance. And here are three ways to do just that:

Know where they source

Millennials aren't interested in your advertising. Word of mouth is essential, followed by earned media. The key to overcoming Millennial skepticism is via opinions and experiences of others. You'll want to encourage customers to express opinions in offline conversations, online reviews, and on social media. This is where Millennials learn about and form their impression of brands and retailers.

Turn them into the content creators

As hinted above, to ensure every piece of content associated with your brand hits the mark with Millennials, you need to turn them into the content creators. The content Millennials share on social media builds brand awareness, and their reviews and recommendations are critical to driving purchases. Brands need to make social content creation a top priority in any marketing campaign targeted at the group.

Reward with personalization

Millennials want something for their participation--and not simply anything. It's not enough for a retailer to produce a "one reward fits all" approach. The rewards MUST be personalized, and this means you must have a very organized way to gather and analyze shopper data. If you don't do this correctly, you'll lose them--and you won't get a second chance.

Brands also need resist the urge to treat Millennial loyalty program opt-ins as an all-access pass into their shoppers' daily lives. The fear of getting spammed with irrelevant messages and offers was the number one deterrent for Millennials, according to a recent study.

Striking the right balance between usefulness and spam is possible, but it requires a serious look at how Millennials are interacting with your loyalty program.

Analyzing data can reveal usage patterns related to time, device, location, and more, helping you pinpoint certain times of day when your audiences feels more receptive to receiving promotional material, whether those promotions are translating into sales, and why customers value certain promotions. Combining all of that--and more--helps you create an omni-channel experience that will be an absolute delight--and one they'll tell their friends about.

The flipside ends in promotion overload. And it's the easiest way to lose this coveted crowd--even those who were pretty stoked about your brand to begin with. There are just too many choices available at the touch of an iPhone to take that risk.

Published on: Aug 12, 2014