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One Size Fits All is Dead

The statistic “8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months” is not a new one. We know that a massive 80% of new businesses will crash and burn – this is expected. But what is interesting is what makes the 20% consistent – the similarities among those that were able to swim instead of sink at the dreaded 18-month mark.

So, what can we learn from the elusive 20%?

A recent Forbes article brings to light the top three reasons new businesses succeed:

Reason #1: They’re in touch with customers through deep dialogue.

Reason #2: They have differentiation in the market (unique value propositions).

Reason #3: They communicate value propositions in a clear, concise and compelling fashion.

For most of us marketers, this advice seems very logical. Your customer holds the key to your success. We need to understand what makes them tick and message to them in a more resonant way that separates us from our competitors. Leaning on audience research and behavioral data to identify if an audience is ready and willing to buy makes marketing the product so much easier.

But is being the best version of your brand enough?

Our research suggests that the most successful brands not only adjust their marketing efforts to resonate with each segment, but enable each segment to choose their ideal version of the product. In other words, customized marketing, and often product customization opportunities, can matter because of what they mean to customer motivations.

Successful brands are purposeful and well defined. They get in front and lead a crowd of people who are already marching with a common purpose. They do not just start marching and hope for the best.

For example, let’s look at millennials. Clients often ask how to speak to millennials — with almost 200 billion dollars of global buying power, it’s a burning topic across the industry. Unfortunately, a lot of the research out there is contradictory and tends to stay at a surface level. Because of this, we decided to get in front of the herd and perform a study to deeply understand the psychology of why millennials buy, using Merkle’s Neuroanalytics process. 

During a recent millennial-focused webinar, over 80% of brands that indicated millennials are a current hot topic did not have an audience activation strategy in place. And less than 30% of the 200 webinar attendees had any data on consumer purchase motivations.

Because wearable technology is such a highly penetrated category for millennials, it was a logical subject matter to get the most robust insight into millennials’ inner workings.  

We found two statistically relevant motivations that separate millennials from their generational counterparts:Millennials care about "staying connected" 33% more than non-millennials.

  1. A personal desire for connection has become an innate part of their value system.

Millennials have been raised on a steady stream of like and retweet-induced endorphins and depend upon that connection for their happiness. But it isn’t just about being connected — it’s about the people they’re connected to. They value bonds with family, friends, and peers whose opinions they care about. Consequently, one of the strongest reasons millennials value wearable technology is for its ability to have customized alerts and reminders that enable them to filter out the noise and enhance these connections. They do not want to miss a beat!Millennials are 48% more motivated than older generations to purchase products that ignite social status.

  1. The other significant motivation is social status.

According to the wearable study, social status is achieved via “looking better in the eyes of others,” which can be the result of either “healthier living” or by “looking cool.”

In the quest to be “cool and current,” they’ll seek products that offer customizable style options and are considered “the latest technology.” By helping users improve their workouts and look cool, wearable tech brands cause them to feel they are achieving “the best look,” which maximizes their ability to be “recognized by others” and deliver social status. They also valued products with GPS capabilities that enables customized workouts.

Now that we know what makes millennials tick, how do brands fulfill the need for social status and connection in products?

Millennials emphasize on customization – it showed up three times in their motivational profile.  They want GPS-trackable workouts to customize when and where they work out, a customized style that fits their personal taste and gets them noticed, and the ability to customize settings within the technology to alert them with important notifications. Each of these desires for customization was tied to personal needs associated with connection and social status.

In other words, customization is key because it creates bonds with others — either directly or by making them look better to others.

Successful brands will no longer have a “one size fits all” mentality.

There are two sides to the customization coin. As brands continue to march forward, it will be important to empower the customer with customized features and options so they feel they are utilizing a brand that represents who they believe they are.

On the flip side, even if two audiences want the same product, they may want it for different reasons. To influence this market, make sure you understand your audience’s motivation and address that deeper need in the creative. Customize your marketing to your audience and allow your audience to customize your product to their lifestyle.
For more insight on from ‘What Makes Millennials Tick’ research and analysis, click here.