Thursday, February 16, 2012

Marketing Weddings to Millennials

Yesterday I was the guest expert on Wedding Market Chat, a weekly twitter chat coordinated by Julie Albaugh of Wedding Market News. My topic was marketing to millennials and what wedding businesses need to know about this generation of consumers. Julie has a posted a full transcript of the chat here if you'd like to read it. Below is the hosted portion of the Q&A with the questions in bold followed by my answers. Because the chat is on Twitter, all of my answers are super short and to the point.


What does the term millennial mean?

Millennials are the generation born between 1979-2000, also known as Gen Y (but they hate being called Gen Y).

Millennials are the largest generation alive (1/3 of total world population) and are 33% larger than the Boomers (the second largest generation).

Millennials account for more than 70% of weddings today. Up until 2007, the majority of couples were Gen X.

The oldest millennials are 33, the youngest are 12, so they'll be the majority wedding consumer for a long time.

Millennials remember Princess Diana's funeral, not her wedding. AIDS has always existed & Barbie has always had a job.


Why should wedding pros no longer focus on just marketing to the bride?

75% of millennials had a working mother and consider women and men equals. Traditional wedding duties are now seen as sexist.

65% of grooms today are actively involved in their wedding planning and their decisions carry equal weight.

95% of today's grooms are actively involved in the registry process. It's "our" home, not just the "bride's" home.

Since more men cook now (no longer a stigma), wedding registries are seeing a spike in specialty kitchen items.

Using "it's all about the bride" or "clueless groom" stereotypes in today's marketing turns off millennial clients.

Same-sex weddings and commitment ceremonies are also increasing. Only saying "brides" doesn't do you any marketing favors.


How do millennial couples think differently than couples in years past?

Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a digital age. This has changed the neural pathways in their brains.

Millennials are the first generation in over 100 years to have a different brain on a microcellular level.

This new brain is why "that's the way we've always done it" no longer works. The answer is to evolve, not dissolve.

The digital attachment is real. 53% of millennials would rather give up their sense of smell than their laptop or phone.

Social media changed how older generations communicate, but it mimics how millennials have always communicated.


How do millennials buy? What are the stats?

64% of millennials expect to hear back from companies within 24 hours. Replying even faster than that is better.

Less than 1% of millennials will call customer service if they have an issue. They'll troubleshoot online first.

Millennials spend money on experiences and items that make their lives better in some way, not flashier.

Marketing that reinforced individuality worked for Gen X. Millennials prefer messages that reinforce family and community.

Even affluent millennials comparison shop. Research is a way of life for this generation, it's not a trust issue.


What do millennials value?

Millennials value friends and family over everything else. The majority name mom as their number one role model.

Millennials value time over money. They're "old souls" and have very traditional (but not always conservative) values.

Millennials define themselves by their ability to connect with others, not by what they own.

Millennials value authenticity. They have finely tuned BS detectors and have little patience for insincerity and gimmicks.

In millennial classrooms, the emphasis was on teamwork, not individual study. Because of this they value peer feedback.


How does their world view affect how they plan their weddings?

Due to the teamwork emphasis, millennials are more likely to disagree openly than in private. This isn't a respect issue.

Telling millennials that you'll do the work and they can relax isn't a message they want to hear. They WANT to collaborate.

Millennials grew up on Martha Stewart, Emeril, etc, and enjoy DIY as a creative outlet. It isn't always about saving money.

Millennials believe that creativity is the most important trait their generation should possess and they value handcrafted.

Many millennials have turned spare rooms into "craft rooms." DIY is now budget agnostic. Luxury brides also DIY for fun.

Wedding pros who market a "don't DIY, leave it to professionals" message come across as out of touch to millennials.

Millennials want custom everything. A custom life, custom career, custom wedding. Custom is seen as a need, not a luxury.


Do you have stats on millennials and weddings?

40% of millennials grew up in broken homes so they are waiting longer to tie the knot. 65% live together before marrying.

Over 80% of millennials believe that they will only be married once and they're willing to wait longer to marry.

91% of millennials consider couples who have had successful long-term marriages to be examples worth following.

1 in 5 millennial marriages are interracial. Couples expect to see diversity in magazines and blogs because they live it.

Interracial marriages doubled between 1980 and 2008 (Gen X weddings). Millennials will continue that upward trend.

Millennials are the least religious generation, but consider themselves to be spiritual. They want a meaningful ceremony.

In 1980, 70% of couples opted to get married in a church. By 2009, only 35% did.

Outdoor weddings aren't a style trend. Many millennials feel alive in nature & consider it a moving/spiritual experience.


What is the education level of millennials? How has this changed how they make purchase decisions?

Millennials are also known as "the learning generation" and will soon be the most educated generation alive.

74% of adult millennials attended college. Among younger millennials the average SAT score is the highest in 30 years.

Millennials do their homework. They research everything and read an average of 13.9 reviews before making a purchase.

The average millennial has attended high school, college, and graduate school in three or more states and/or countries. Long distance friendships are normal.

By the time millennials get married, their friends live around the world and they stay in touch daily through social media.

The friends who are helping millennials plan their weddings most often do so via social media and from a different city.

To gain credibility with millennials, you MUST participate online outside of your website and Facebook.

Getting published on blogs helps give millennials more places to look when researching. This counts towards that 13.9.

Here's a list of several wedding blogs and their submission requirements to help with this.


What would you like the Wedding Market to take away from this Wedding Market Chat?

Every generation gets a bad rap from the ones that precede it. Millennials aren't better or worse, just different.

Millennials approach the world differently. What worked in bridal marketing 10 years ago won't work today.

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