Making a Connection with the Young

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Making a Connection with the Young

By Kevin Meany - 03/09/2011

One of the most popular strategies marketers utilize in promotional marketing for food and grocery is to have representatives simply hand out samples and hope that the sample will be enough to attract new customers to the product.

This strategy is extremely popular because marketers have long known that consumers will stand in line to fill bags with samples at county fairs, music festivals and NASCAR events. However, if this is all that is being done to attract young adults then it may be time to rethink that strategy.

A recent nationwide survey I conducted revealed that 78 percent of young adults between 21 and 25, known as Millennials, preferred to have an experience where personal engagement played a more prominent role. Instead of standing in line and receiving free samples, Millennials prefer the opportunity to ask questions and receive a coherent explanation about the product from a knowledgeable beverage representative where an actual face-to-face conversation about the product or a demonstration takes place.

In the survey, Millennials stated that they think more of companies that take the time to discuss a product or service in person and they are more likely persuaded towards trial and discussion. Most importantly, after this engagement most Millennials would actually refer a friend to try the product after a good consumer engagement and promotional experience.

One of the most sought after things Millennials are seeking in consumer engagements are knowledge and information about a product and the company behind it. Essentially, it comes down to a personalized engagement where a product representative takes an interest and is able to offer knowledgeable information on their product, the competitor’s products and answer other various questions that may arise. This will help ensure a more memorable and successful consumer engagement.

This type of engagement is important and valued among Millennials because, by definition, they are still young and learning. When a Millennial is engaged in a face-to-face conversation with a product representative who takes the time to teach them about the product, the educational process lends a significant amount of credibility for the company. This credibility translates into consumer trust, which means the Millennial is much more likely to try that product and stay loyal to it. Additionally, after learning about the product, the Millennial can speak more intelligently about it to their friends – an added bonus.

As a result, Millennials will think more highly of companies that take the time to demonstrate and discuss products, show how they work or why they are better than competitors during a marketing promotion or consumer engagement. For the marketers that are taking the time in consumer engagements to talk with Millennials to elaborate and demonstrate why their products are better, faster, safer, smarter, or tastier than competitor products, all while making it engaging and fun, the odds increase significantly that more trial, discussion and potential conversion will occur.

Finally, the survey also revealed that consumer engagement “experience” could lead to not only trial and consideration, but also increased loyalty and word of mouth promotion by Millennial consumers. It is not just about having a product representative at the promotion or activity, it is about what that company representative and the engagement have to offer in the way of conversation, knowledge and what is different, better, unique and centered on the consumer’s needs and wants.

Surprisingly in this age of Facebook and Twitter, the younger they are, the more they want face-to-face, informational engagements. Therefore, it can be discerned that if a company wants to attract younger people to its brand and build a longer relationship, that face-to-face engagement with knowledgeable people for the product must be part of any experiential and promotional campaign. Failure to include this can have a devastating effect on an organization’s long-term strategy.
Unfortunately, most marketers are not getting the message and are missing out on a golden opportunity to help their clients create a long term relationship with a potential customer, which will in-turn lead to a long-term relationship with the client. In short, take the time to talk to the customer because the numbers do not lie. It is what they want.

Kevin Meany is chief marketing officer of Bluffton, S.C.-based BFG Communications.