During Diversity Week, NAMIC Conference Addresses “The Millennial Marketplace”

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NAMICAccording to an earlier post on TNJ.com, the millennial generation (people born from 1982 to 1993 and also known as the Gen Y) is fast becoming the most important demographic in the U.S. With the number of millennials fast approaching the 80 million mark, they are also considered to be one of the most important markets in the country today. However, reaching this demographic group can be a big challenge since they do not respond to traditional marketing techniques.

At a recent panel discussion at the 29th annual National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications (NAMIC) conference that took place during Diversity Week this month, several questions were posed about the millennial marketplace. The answers varied but the consensus was the same: multiple media platforms rule.  

“I think what was unanimous on the panel was how pivotal and important mobile, social and video are as tactics for reaching both the multicultural audience and the millennial audience. Also, it’s not a ‘one size fits all.’ You have to be as authentic as possible in your message so that you can reach the millennials that you want to reach with a message that will resonate well. There were various approaches in the answers offered, but we those were the consistent themes,” Maria Weaver, senior vice president & head of sales at Interactive One, told TNJ.com. 

Moderated by Smokey Fontaine, Founder, a+ creative studio, the panel included a dynamic lineup of experts that included James Brown, SVP, Head of Content Distribution, REVOLT; Firat Parlak, Founder & Creative Director, Awesome NYC; Yale Wang, Head of Marketing, DramaFever; and Maria Weaver, SVP, Head of Sales, Interactive One. 

Below is an excerpt of the discussion:  

Fontaine: What do millennials desire? 

Brown: We are fortunate to be in the digital age. Branded video content that will resonate with the audience is one of the best ways to connect with the millennials. You want a great video that people are talking about on Twitter. It’s a win for the brand and the audience. We try to create content that is sexy. When it comes to digital tech, there’s tons of music out there but no one is curating.

At Revolt, there’s a conglomerate of things we’ve done strategically. Plus, Sean Combs is a large brand. We make sure to build in a flexible way. Companies need to start thinking that way. We did a deal with Universal for Fast & Furious. Everyone on the soundtrack performed at the show and the movie. In music, you can take a product and show it in different facets. We did another project with the artist Future. He loves Air Force One sneakers so we found ways to be content creators and create something around that rather than just throwing up an ad.

Wang: Millenials desire authenticity and passion. Sending a message in SnapChat is a great user experience and advertisers take advantage of SnapChat’s 700 million photos shared per day. You’re emotionally investing in the content. With SnapChat, a camera comes up first. Millennials like to engage first and consume advertising afterwards. They’re curious. The best ads have emotional clutter and they can break through the clutter. Ultimately, they want to create their own content.   

Parlak: Creating custom content is important. You tell the story and weave the brand into it. You can create amazing content with a brand woven into it especially if they are going to pay for it. So, start with creative folks.   

Fontaine: Can we have an urban strategy that is synonymous with the millennial strategy?

Brown: Music is born in urban centers. Social media tells you what’s hot. You can tune in wherever you are and it’s the urban influence that’s out there, especially when you look at the census numbers. Revolt is about multi-genre music. Anybody who is hot is featured on Revolt. It could be Indian music, Country music, or R&B – as long as it’s hot. When you talk about the urban aspect, the walls are going away. Form a sales strategy, an urban-only focus is limiting. Urban ad dollars are small, but if you speak to a marketer about millennials, there are large buckets of dollars. So it’s not the best idea to come at it from an urban perspective.         

Fontaine: What about ethnic marketing?

Weaver: We saw a big shift 15 years ago where Black dollars were cut to go into the Hispanic market. These days, folks are hesitant to brand their content as ethnic. TV One is having a Black conversation, but at Interactive One, I am not limited. I have the flexibility with digital.

Brown: At Revolt, we never said we were a Black site. It was just about hot music and hot videos. The more I interact with youth, the more I don’t see color. My 12 year old wants to be global. He has friends of all kinds. This new world is very different. The kids are not into “buying Black,” and Puffy [Sean Combs] sees it. He’s a good marketer. Yes, hip-hop drives things, but millennials balance things out.