Whether you think members of Generation Y
(those born between 1982 and 1993, inclusive) are the gods of social media or narcissistic Instragram selfie-takers, at 80 million strong, they’re taking the world by storm.
They’re also causing some confusion.
Unlike previous generations, millennials aren’t particularly loyal to brands. They’re facing an 11.8 percent
unemployment rate, so millennials tend to be choosy about how they spend their money.
What’s a marketer to do? Consider these two insights:
• The recession hit this generation hard as they were entering the working world.
• Although some millennials reside barely a block away from their parent’s nest, they’re very nostalgic and love reminiscing about the good times of childhood.
So, remind them of the good times.
Not sold? Just look at publications such as BuzzFeed
; virtually any list they publish with anything to do with the 1990s spreads like wildfire on social media.
Millennials have a sweet spot for nostalgia, and smart brands are getting into the game. Here are three examples:
Viacom’s Nickelodeon was the epicenter for entertainment for kids who grew up in the ’90s. Despite the majority of millennials growing out of Nickelodeon’s target audience, in 2010 the network hit ratings gold by delivering a hearty plate of nostalgia through the TeenNick programming block “The ’90s Are All That.”
Every night, young adults can forget about their job woes and laugh like a kid again at Nickelodeon classics like “Ren & Stimpy,” “Clarissa Explains It All,” and “All That.” This nostalgic programming earned the network a 50 percent ratings spike among viewers 18-35
2. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer
When Microsoft launched its latest version of Internet Explorer, it didn’t use fancy tech language to sell the digital generation to come back to its platform. Instead, it engaged its young audience by building their trust through memories of pogs, virtual pets, and video games filled with dysentery (Oregon Trail anyone?).
Its tagline was simple and to the point: “You grew up. So did we.” Microsoft’s nostalgic marketing campaign was a slam dunk, and its brand power index (BPI) rose 18 percent
because of it.
3. Old Navy
Looking to reach women between ages 25–35, Old Navy’s head of merchandizing knew that tapping into ’90s nostalgia
was the way to go.
This classic brand used pop culture icons from the cast from “Beverly Hills 90210”
to the quintessential boy band, Backstreet Boys, to connect with its core demographic. The fun commercials tapped into the fun spirit of that decade while forming a genuine connection with its audience. In the middle of this connection were jeans, flip flops, and other Old Navy classics. This brand made sure to associate its products with the positive memories of the ’90s.
So, what about you?
Perhaps you can’t get Backstreet Boys to market your business, but you can leverage nostalgic experiences to reach millennials.
Whether it’s creating memes of their childhood memories for Instagram or positioning your product as a way to relive the good old days on your blog, you can create an experience this demographic identifies with.
Regardless of what you do, show millennials you get what’s important to them—then pair it with a good product or service.
Adrienne Sheares is a social PR manager at Vocus. A version of this story first appeared on the company's blog.