If you’re a baby boomer all you want for Christmas is material goods – anything to ensure you’re keeping up with the Joneses, which defines status and success. The Christmas wish lists of millennials, on the other hand, look quite different, according to a recent article by Dallas Lawrence, chief communications officer of the Rubicon Project posted on brandchannel.com.

Lawrence says millennials prefer experiences that can be shared online to material goods. “Their version of keeping up with the Joneses is all about having the best and most enviable experiences to share via their social channels,” he writes. “In the digital age, ‘likes’ on Instagram and Facebook, retweets on Twitter and achieving the highest score possible on Snapchat are the ultimate indicator of success.”

Atiyya Karodia, social media manager at Native VML, says a large portion of South African millennials   are also choosing experiences, destinations and events which they can share. “The notion of being able to curate a desirable lifestyle is something to which many millennials in SA subscribe,” she says.

However, she says it would be incorrect to label all millennials as “like” junkies without first considering that they have grown up and are living in a time where their personal brand is heavily influenced by their online presence. “Whether it’s to gain social currency with friends, or curating themselves to find ‘the one’ on apps like Tinder, all the way to positioning themselves as a thought leader in their dream job – the nature of the environment that millennials know they have to compete in and live in has not only encouraged this type of growth but in some cases encourages it.”

Lawrence says social pressures to pursue and share experiences are so strong that millennials are even willing to go into debt to fund them. He urges marketers to focus their efforts on the type of content that millennials are drawn to such as online personalised video experiences as opposed to linear TV.

The key to capturing attention and share of wallet with ads is relevance, he argues. The majority of millennials don’t mind relevant ads and are more likely to engage with ads that are specifically tailored to their interests.

Millennials are incredibly discerning when it comes to content and platforms and don’t engage with heavily branded content, adds Karodia. “They know what they like to consume and how, so interruption-based marketing does more brand damage than good.”

She maintains that the key to capturing millennials’ attention is to be where they are, on their favourite platforms, but with the kind of content that they would like to consume, and in the format and tone they would prefer. “Collaborative content is where it’s at,” she says.

“For brands and retailers struggling to embrace the shifting norms of this maturing generation, the bottom line is that the path to purchase looks dramatically different than it did just a few short years ago,” says Lawrence. “For today’s millennial consumer it’s a point, click, spend, experience and share world.”

The big take-out: Millennials prefer experiences that can be shared online to material goods. They  need to be communicated to on their preferred platforms via collaborative content.

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