The millennial impact: Big data's role

Consumer Products Writer

Millennials are changing the consumer products industry in a big way. While it's impossible to characterize an entire generation by a single set of traits, certain psychographic patterns hold true. For one, many millennials started their adult lives in a severe financial downturn, and many have delayed major life milestones such as home buying and family planning due to starting their careers later, according to U.S. News & World Report. However, millennials are also known for being socially driven, technically savvy and the most educated age group in today's workforce. data can help CPG leaders identify the millennial impact on purchasing patterns. Here are three examples of how they can do this:

1. Pinpointing what millennials care about

Twenty- and thirty-somethings want to do business with socially conscious companies. In a FutureCast survey featured in CPG Marketing Trends, 37 percent of millennials reported that they were more likely to buy a product when their purchase supported a cause. It's these buying habits that have helped brands like TOMS, a company that makes a donation with every purchase, become loved among segments with young shoppers.

CPG leaders such as Dove are building upon this ethos by launching campaigns that create social dialogue around the concept of beauty, for example. Rather than creating basic product advertisements, they're providing compelling stories that their audience is likely to share with their peers. These interactions generate a wealth of content and social media data.

Brands can collect and reinvest this information into future content campaigns. Sentiment and network analyses can bring engaging content to the surface by identifying content consumption patterns, new value propositions and areas of interest for new topics. Brands can track metrics related to content consumption, social shares and even application usage. By connecting this information to earnings, CPG leaders can better understand the relationship between sentiment and revenue.

2. Providing the most compelling offer

When shopping, millennials tend to research their options and seek out the best deal, reflecting a greater CPG landscape that's driven by extreme market fragmentation. Leveraging this challenge, CPG newcomers and niche brands are becoming increasingly accessible to consumers. Industry leaders, to stay competitive, must make themselves present and visible within this landscape.

Data can help. Through consumer loyalty programs, consumer education initiatives, content marketing and social media, CPG brands can leverage big data to reach millennial shoppers on a one-to-one level, in the moment, and in a way that's targeted to personal consumer preferences. By collecting data over the long term, brands can develop lasting relationships with consumers on a personal level. These quantitative insights will yield more accurate forecasts by connecting marketing activity with actual purchasing behavior.

3. Reaching consumers everywhere

Millennials are known to rely heavily on technology, particularly mobile devices, to make shopping decisions. This happens even when they're in stores. These behaviors point to the need for cross-platform targeting and engagement strategies. Millennials are relying on a number of platforms and networks to research the products that they're thinking about purchasing. Big data can help, particularly around messaging, targeting and personalization. What's key is the ability to create a comprehensive consumer picture.

The millennial impact to shopping is a force that CPG leaders can't afford to ignore. By 2017, this age group will have more buying power than any other generation, but their buying patterns will be dramatically different from earlier generations, Time reports. Brands will come out ahead by appealing to their desire to learn, sharing content and understanding psychographics on a deeply personal level. Harness every detail and micro-interaction to appeal to this generation as a whole.

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