Connecting with Millennials

Connecting with Millennials

November 8, 2015

Introduction from Alana:

Today, help me welcome Marissa Vidler, founder and Research “Genius” at Clear Box Insights out of Kansas City.  With over 15 years’ market research experience, she has personally talked to thousands of Marissa Vidlerconsumers to help bring their stories to life and guide brand strategy. In just the past year, she has talked to consumers about greeting cards, hospitals, honey, irons, starch, cruise ships, toys, and chickens – both the ones you eat, and the ones you raise for eggs. 

Her curiosity and interest in marketing to the Millennial generation led to the reason we are here today, to celebrate the release of her first book, Millennials with Kids: Marketing to This Powerful and Surprisingly Different Generation of Parents.


Guest Post by Marissa Vidler, Founder and Research Genius of Clear Box Insights

Have you ever tried to start a discussion with a group of people that look at you with skepticism and derision in their eyes?  If Millennials want to co-create and guide brands on their products, marketing, and customer experience so much, then why do I hear crickets when I moderate focus groups with Millennials?

Millennial Image

Millennials are a funny bunch when it comes to market research.  They push content out to brands like no other generation has – sharing their experiences, satisfaction, and recommendations directly with brands, often expecting a response, not to mention sharing with the far reaches of their online peer groups.  Unlike traditional market research where we gather consumers and draw insights out, Millennials are giving it away for free.

You would think that Millennials would walk into a focus group room prepared to be the most vocal and opinionated, not to mention the most comfortable sharing their views with others, but that is just not the case.  While other participants tend to be genuinely happy and excited to be asked their opinions and share feedback, Millennials come into the room suspicious and guarded.  As digital natives with the ability to access information about anything at any time, there’s something about walking into a room with “big brother” behind the glass that just freaks them out.

After some trial and error, I’ve cracked the code of how to communicate with Millennials.  It took longer than I’d like to admit that the brand strategies in my new book, Millennials with Kids: Marketing to This Powerful and Surprisingly Different Generation of Parents, also apply to moderating focus groups with Millennials or even just connecting with them IRL (that means “in real life”):

Be transparent… Millennials have excellent BS detection, in part because they can validate or disprove information at any time with the touch of a screen.  Don’t try to be something you’re not or hide information from Millennials; they will call you out on it.  Instead, give them some background and be authentic about it.

Make them your partner… It’s not only okay, but it’s recommended, to ask for their help.  Millennials are part of a democratized economy which gives consumers a tremendous amount of power.  And remember, Millennials don’t want to be told what to do, they want to be part of the process.

Keep it casual… And I don’t mean saying things like “YOLO,” “chillax,” and “on fleek” (trust me, if you’re as uncool as I am, you’ll get laughed out of the room).  Millennials appreciate less formality than other generations, using more casual language, brevity, and humor.  But seriously, don’t try too hard.  You know what they say, you only live once…

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that there are plenty of online qualitative methodologies for engaging Millennials in their comfort zones, but sometimes you just can’t avoid talking to Millennials in person.  No matter how hard you try.