We get asked all the time what is it about the Millennial generation that makes them so different. Aside from their ability to navigate through digital, mobile, and social environments with ease, Millennials have the strongest desire among all consumer groups to have personalized, democratized, and customized brand experiences (see what we did there – Ization Nation?). What exactly does that mean? Essentially, Millennials do not want to be considered just another face in the crowd. In order to connect with this powerful group of consumers, you must make an effort to connect with the individual and create personal experiences that Millennials can share with their networks.
This desire is especially heightened among Millennial parents who are not just looking for personalized experiences for themselves, but also for their families. Not to mention that Millennial parents are adjusting to their newfound authority in the home and want to share those voices with the brands they are interacting with.
So, how do brands survive in the Ization Nation? Read on, my friend.
Personalization is a driving point of differentiation in today’s market. Most brands that fall prey to more innovative companies are the ones that do not offer any unique qualities that are specifically designed for each consumer. Millennial women especially have a strong desire to stand out from the crowd, as 55 percent of female Millennials who participated in a recent FutureCast survey want to own a unique item that cannot be seen on anyone else.
However, personalization does not mean the same thing for all Millennials or Millennial parents. Remember when we broke down the consumer behaviors of each Millennial parent orbit? For someone in the Image First orbit, a personalized brand strategy may emphasize ways that will help them to bolster their own personal image while a parent in the Family First orbit is more likely to respond positively to messages that allow them to create personalized experiences for their entire family. The key to personalizing your brand for your consumers is simple – ask them what they want. Millennials are an opinionated bunch and whether you ask for it or not, they will tell you what they think.
We are in the midst of a revolution. Millennials are leading the charge and creating a new sharing economy that completely redefines the way that brands are solving and addressing consumer anxieties. Brands are no longer a monarchy that rule over consumers. Instead, they are partners and are expected to act with the best interest of all consumers in mind.
Ford is one example of a brand that has not only adapted to this democratization concept, but has done so with Millennial parents in mind. Like most young parents before them, many Millennials must approach parenthood through a pragmatic lens and make major purchase decisions based on a household budget. Ford was one of the first automotive brands to introduce high-quality technology systems across its model line instead of starting with high-end cars and letting the technology trickle down through the manufacturer’s vehicle lineup.
When this concept was rolled out in 2012, the launch was primarily concentrated on the Ford Focus – an economy car that is popular with Millennials on a budget (read: new parents). This strategy allowed Millennials to feel like they were getting the quality they deserved at a price they could afford. That sounds pretty democratic to us.
While customization is very similar to personalization, the difference lies in who is controlling the experience. When it comes to personalization, Millennials expect brands to create a personal experience, product, message, etc. for them. However, with customization, the responsibility falls on the consumer to create something that is tailored for the individual. Consider Nike, an extremely loved Millennial brand. Nike creates personalized experiences for its customers in its retail shops and on the website through recommended product offerings and content. More than that, it taps into customization through the NikeiD platform, which allows consumers to design their own sneakers tailored specifically to their preferences – major customization opportunity.
Adjusting to these new structures as a part of the Ization Nation is not easy and requires a significant mindset shift. However, the entire Ization Nation concept can be boiled down into four words: Give Them a Voice.
More than anything, Millennials want to be heard and be given the opportunity to co-create the brands they love most. Personalization, democratization and customization all have unique characteristics within the consumer landscape but they still all serve as an outlet for Millennials to take more ownership of the brands they interact with every day.