How to Create a Sustained Bond with Millennials

You may have a great idea with a polished advertisement but, for some reason, millennials don’t seem to click with your product. Do you ever wonder why?  What can be done about it? Millennials are one of the largest generations by sheer number, and will soon make up 50% of the global workforce according to PWC…

You may have a great idea with a polished advertisement but, for some reason, millennials don’t seem to click with your product. Do you ever wonder why?  What can be done about it? Millennials are one of the largest generations by sheer number, and will soon make up 50% of the global workforce according to PWC.  Companies are trying to get a following of new, loyal customers, but millennials are different. Companies have been struggling to engage with millennials because they’re not influenced by advertising. Growing up bombarded by advertisements, they have grown to see right past them. Now, the opportunity to connect with millennials lies in communication of your product and brand.  Here are some tips to help your brand through User Experience  (UX) design.

  1. Find the user’s pain points with existing solutions, and figure out the deep root of the problems.

Having empathy with the user is a hot topic these days. Having the ability to see the product from the user’s point of view gives you an ability to create real solutions for their pain points. When users feel their pain from using another product that is solved by your product, the user starts to engage with you and your brand. For example, most of the fitness/dietary app products today just end up giving data to the user rather than significant value. After a while, the user stops using the app because they don’t see the real-life results from it. Many of these apps will track your steps or what you eat (your caloric intake). At first it seems interesting and useful, but over time becomes another form of work — inputting each ingredient and quantity can take a lot of time. So the user’s pain point becomes: “I don’t have enough time to cook, so I eat out. How do I tell how many calories I consume?” Most restaurants that show calorie intake give a large range, such as 400-700 calories for this meal.  Portion size depends on the restaurant.  Another pain point may be: “How do I deal with food cravings,” which may need to be fixed at a more psychological level.

  1. Create a solution that will lead to real-life results

Millennials have a “digital DNA,” their lives have always been filled with new technologies; however, studies show that many started to crave more real-life interaction and results. Companies like Amazon are acting fast to fill these needs by creating offline stores, such as Whole Foods which they recently acquired.     The best way to build muscle or to diet is not by reading articles about it or inputting and checking your data; the best way is     by actually doing the exercise and eating healthy. What this means for companies is that the best way to get real-life results is to design a product that enables your users to take action very easily. Here’s an example of an app that shows how easy it is to get fresh produce customized to your dietary and fitness goals.  Simply put your fresh ingredient into the specially designed slow cooker.   To get users to visit your app regularly, you must help them create a new routine that will stick. If you can create a solution like “When I have a food craving, I will talk with a consultant in the app or I will check what other people are doing for their body” then you create returning users.

  1. Create your vision statement and communicate that in every touchpoint.

Many studies, including Nielsen’s on Millennials – Breaking the Myths, show that millennials are into the brands that are authentic. They are also willing to pay more for companies that are active in a social cause. According to Enso’s  2017 Brand World Value Index research report, Toms Shoes ranks higher than Nike among millennials, which is significantly different than other generations. This is surprising given the difference in sizes between companies and functions of their products. If you have a vision statement, communicate it actively. Rather than small text in the corner of your homepage saying “We donate 2% of profits,” you can share that information more boldly with millennial users — “If you lose X lbs this month, we will donate X$ to fight childhood obesity.” Millennials engage with brands that help them represent who they are. They wear your brand statement proudly to represent “I’m into well-being. I make healthier choices” or “I’m into localism and regional pride.”  Once they align with your vision statement, they start to create brand loyalty. One thing to keep in mind is that your brand should be true to what you’re doing. Don’t make a brand statement you can’t keep. In the digital age everything is so transparent; it’s easy for millennials to figure out if you’re doing it or not, and they appreciate honesty and authenticity.

  1. Creating commitment by giving rewards and feedback.

Rewards are one of the most important elements driving users to return to an app/website, both physiologically and psychologically. Every time a user gets a reward, their brain releases dopamine, giving them a feeling of euphoria. The reward doesn’t need to be tangible, it can be as simple as positive encouragement – “Good job!” or “High five! You ran 35 minutes today.” Other people’s feedback is another form of reward. You can create better user engagement by making it easy to share to a community.  Like Facebook, for example, getting a ‘like’ releases dopamine. If you create a community of people with a similar goal of losing weight, users can share their progress with less hesitation. Many people hesitate to share before/after pictures with their Facebook friends, but in a community with similar goals, there’s a reason to share. When the user gets feedback, their commitment becomes stronger, along with their sense of community between users.  Now they have more reasons to come back to your app/website.

  1. Bring the user to your team by treating them like your team.

Humans mirror each other’s activity or feelings. In our brains, we have special neurons called mirror neurons. Our bodies are programmed to imitate from the moment we’re born, which is how babies learn. If your writing treats users as a part of your team, they’re more likely to mirror that and think of you as a team. They may feel more engaged with your statement.  Millennials, interestingly, care about collective success as much as individual success. If you share with your millennial users: “We generated 50k in funding to fight childhood obesity, thanks for making it happen,” they feel empowered.  They feel like the healthy food they bought, which made their life easier, contributed at the same time to this cause.  They feel like they became part of the team and the brand. They feel good by contributing the team’s success. Now your brand’s success becomes their personal success. This is how to build strong trust and engagement with millennials. Building brand royalty is a two-way street.  

Other Sources Millennials are Seeking Purpose and Innovation – Universum The Millennial Paradox: A Generation Uncovered – Landor  

Author Bio Soyun Kim is Senior Product Designer at StudioRed, an award-winning product development consultancy in Silicon Valley providing brand research; UX/UI and industrial design; mechanical, structural and optical engineering; prototyping; and production services. Before joining StudioRed, Soyun worked with GoPro Inc, fuseproject, RKS and Lunar design where her clients included HP, LG, JBL, Hamilton medical, Unilever, SC Johnson, SanDisk, and Epson. Her work has been recognized by Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Western District Student Merit Awards, IDEA, Core77, CES Innovation Awards, Spark Awards and Good Design Awards.

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