When we talk about consumers that are consistently dictating trends, there’s one group we turn to again and again: millennials. According to Forbes, there are 80 million millennials in the U.S. alone – about a quarter of the population. And they’re spending. A lot – totaling about $200 billion every year.

How can brands win over that coveted millennial affection?

Visual Communicators and Consumers

Millennial Shopping Behaviors

For many brands, the challenge lies in the way millennials communicate – visual content is an imperative when it comes to connecting with this segment. Given the emergence of GoPros, the adoption of Snapchat, and an all-out obsession with Instagram, modern marketers are quickly learning that pictures speak louder than words. When brands use visual content to connect with millennials, they see a wealth of engagement. And when they connect visual content to products, it becomes a driver of revenue.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg. The power of millennials goes well beyond sales. For instance, millennials are more inclined than any other demographic to celebrate their purchases via social media. It’s no wonder they’re a target demographic for brands.

Authentic and Agile

Elite Daily Millennial Shopping Data

While millennials are a highly desirable demographic … they also exhibit very different behaviors compared to other spenders. Consider the following insights from a study conducted by Forbes and Elite Daily:

  • 33% of millennials will check out a company’s blog before purchasing from them.
  • 62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer.
  • Just 1% of millennials surveyed said that an ad would make them trust a brand more.

What this survey shows is that trust and authenticity are crucial components of the millennial mindset. An analysis by the National Retail Federation supports this well. In their words, “Millennials seek long-term relationships with brands that embrace change in ways that feel authentic, foster trust and are respectful of heritage and values.” In other words, brands are expected to be agile, without compromising their history or character.

So, which brands are making the grade?

To answer this question, I’ve put together a series of three blogs. Each one profiles a different brand across fashion (Converse), CPG (Coca-Cola) and publishing (Thrillist) – brands that are consistently loved by millennials.

To start, let’s put our best foot forward with Converse.

How Converse Built the Millennial Mold

The Converse brand may be as old as the Model T, but even today, it is as timeless as ever. The company started way back in 1908 as a rubber shoe company specializing in galoshes. More than a century later, Converse stays fresh and favorable—especially among millennial shoppers—by adhering to the following standards:

  1. Ensuring their customers’ voices and experiences are heard – loudly.
  2. Embracing multiple buyer types.
  3. Finding innovative ways to market their products as lifelong companions for adventure and individuality.

Let’s dive deeper into each of these ideas here.

1. The Customer is Always Right

One thing we know about millennials – they don’t want to be told what to do. Conversely (see what I did there?), millennials embrace brands that value their input and evolve their messaging to fulfill those desires and needs. The brand’s About Us page conveys this flawlessly. As the story goes, the original Converse sneaker was designed with hoop dreams in mind, but by listening to their customers, the brand was able to unlock the true potential of what’s arguably their most popular product. Their messaging reflects this:

“We made them to sink jump shots on the court. You, however, saw them as something more … and started wearing our sneakers to do whatever you wanted. You played music, made art, skated the streets and kicked back. You wore them as fashion. You wore them to work. You customized them with your personal style. You did everything to them, and in them. You saw our sneakers’ unlimited potential. You define them. They’re made by you.”

This narrative complements Converse’s goal: to play up their tradition of quality and style, while encouraging individuality. In this way, their sneakers become blank canvases. This messaging is perfect for millennials; with unlimited access to social and community-oriented technologies, self-expression is highly valued.

2. Embrace Individuality

Embracing Individuality of Millennial Shoppers

While it’s important to establish a lifestyle and identity as a brand, millennials value diversity and transformation. As the NRF notes, millennials shouldn’t be forced into neat little boxes; duly categorizing these eccentric shoppers simply doesn’t bode well.

This is something Converse has mastered. The brand prides itself on defying stereotypes and prefers to shy away from any single customer profile. On social, for instance, they highlight and celebrate a diverse, multifaceted customer base. Whether you’re into skateboarding or high-end style, the message is clear. Converse could be for you.

3. If You Blog It, They Will Come

A well-known brand with endless budget for marketing and advertising does not a millennial favorite make. Here’s what does motivate millennial shoppers: service, brand affiliation, your overall brand message and price.

One way marketers can appeal to millennials’ need to feel a strong connection with or affinity for a brand is through a blog. (Remember: As noted earlier, 33% of millennials will check out a company’s blog before purchasing from them.)

Here are some of the elements that make the Converse blog shine:

  • Variety. The Converse blog features a wide array of content and imagery, paired with music, articles, interviews, video and the celebration of fans and customers. Together, this content conveys a cohesive brand message and lifestyle.
  • Subtlety. Rather than linking every last image to their ecommerce site, Converse simply includes a call-to-action at the top of their blog, which drives out to their collections. Millennials appreciate brands that prioritize experiences over material goods.

millennial shopper best practices

  • Shareability. Converse’s blog is packed with eye-catching images, and each one can be easily shared to Facebook and Twitter. By incorporating clear social share icons, Converse ensures that their content reaches more people across more touchpoints.

millennial shopper sharing icons

Converse also connects with their customers on the blog through features from their Rubber Tracks music studio.

Converse Blog Aesthetic

The brand frequently holds events and concerts with popular artists, and features this content on their social galleries and in blog content. This allows them to promote their products and work on celebrity partnerships, while bringing some edge and personality to their brand through music. They also promote and share music events on the blog, which gives readers the opportunity to buy tickets or find a show in their community.

Like what you see? Stayed tuned for the second installment of this three-part series, in which I explore Coca-Cola’s millennial investment.