Marketing - Article | 3-min. read

Why Personalization May Help You Win with Millennials

Personalization is the act of leveraging data and personal information to deliver individualized messages to prospects and current customers. As a marketing tool, it’s obviously not new; it’s been a driving force in promotion for years. However, millennials are changing the way we think about personalized marketing.

Personalization can be an effective method for drawing in and retaining millennials. This generation grew up in the digital age, curating its own content on social media platforms. They love DIY curation websites, where they can scour the web for ideas and contact a merchant to help them bring custom creations to life.

For millennials, personalized marketing can help drive loyalty and purchasing decisions. In fact, a survey by Access Development1 found only 12 percent of millennial respondents had an active dislike for marketing communications, which is unlike previous generations of buyers. An NPD Group survey2 showed that while older millennials use more loyalty apps and shop at big-box national retailers, younger millennials prefer specialty stores and buying wholesale.

Millennials are also more open to giving out personal information—especially if they get something in return. According to research from Aimia3, half of millennials would share personal details to join a rewards program, while 36 percent of millennials would do so to gain access to a website.

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The information age makes personalization even more personal. It seems a fair trade-off; if someone offers a business their personal info, the business should use it with care and specificity. Here’s what marketers should keep in mind to meet millennials where they are—and where they’d like to be:

Market with Personalization in Mind

Personalizing goods and services for the millennial crowd takes more than just attaching a name to an email or a direct mail flier. If we examine the rise of customizable menus in fast-casual restaurants, which allow its patrons to craft their own custom food creations, we see that many customers enjoy having more personalized options. A survey from Bond4 found that 55 percent of U.S. millennials would like access to personalized experiences and services that huge companies don’t have the bandwidth to provide.

Small and medium-sized businesses can take these lessons and apply the strategies to their own marketing campaigns. To entice the millennial consumer, customization may be the key. Companies can present options, though not too many, to appeal to the principles this value-driven generation loves. This is a shared trait between younger and older millennials; a Cone Communications poll5 showed that 92 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds and 91 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds would be willing to switch to brands associated with good causes.

The rise in popularity of curated subscription box services – from makeup to collectibles to pet supplies – is a perfect example of successful personalization in marketing. A beauty company has subscribers fill out a profile that asks basic questions about skin tone, type, and personal style. Based on the answers, it mails out five samples on a monthly basis. Subscribers try them out and have the option to buy full sizes of items they love.

Enhance Your Strategy

Small and medium-sized businesses should consider weaving personalization into their marketing, from the services they offer to their direct mail campaigns. Remember, what worked in the past may still be effective, but you may have to rethink your strategy and focus on tailored, individualized content for a crowd that expects customization and big value.

Consider what happened not too long along when a late night comedy host was taking potshots at politicians who sent mass emails with the respondent’s name in the tag. It pretended to be personal, but once you read a line or two, it was obviously just another form letter. Don’t fall into the trap of pretending to be personal—it’s important to actually engage with your consumer on a personal level.

Are you ready to personalize your direct mail for millennials? Check out “Reaching Millennials: The Role of DM.” It’s an informative guide that may help businesses bridge the communication gap—and generation gap—with millennial consumers.

1Millennial Loyalty Statistics: The Ultimate Collection, Access Development, 2014.

210 Ways Younger and Older Millennials Shop Differently, The NPD Group, 2016

3How Generation Y Will Reshape Customer Loyalty, Aimia, 2014

42014 Loyalty Report: US Edition, Bond, 2014

5Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, Cone Communications, 2015

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