Mia Fileman 0:05
This is Got Marketing? – a podcast with ideas, strategies, and tactics to help small businesses create smarter marketing. I’m Mia Fileman, a professional marketer, and the founder of Campaign del Mar. In this show, I chat with creatives and strategists about the different aspects of marketing, but without the fluff. Let’s dive in!
Millennials have massive spending power. They don’t mind spending freely, so it’s no surprise that brands are prioritising reaching millennials. But winning over millennials can prove to be easier said than done, so it’s important to brush up on exactly what makes them different so that we can create marketing campaigns that cater to different markets.
This is the chat that I’m going to have today with Amy Voller. She is a marketing strategy and communications professional with experience across multiple industry sectors. Amy’s career has spanned over 21 years, working with several highly respected global blue-chip organisations and start-ups in Australia, London, and across Europe. These include Telstra, The Royal Bank of Scotland, British Telecom, and Britax Childcare. Since 2016 though, Amy has run her own business offering strategic advice and training. She works with women in business to identify and implement growth opportunities.
Amy Voller 1:38
Hello Mia! Thank you for having me!
Mia Fileman 1:40
Thanks for joining me!
We met in the One Roof Community which is this epic online membership for female entrepreneurs.
Amy Voller 1:51
To be honest, it’s the most supportive and unique community that I’ve ever been part of.
Mia Fileman 1:59
You know what’s really interesting? We’ve already digressed, Amy. It’s that One Roof Community has experienced exponential growth in the last 12 months. They now have 700 members. But unlike so many other businesses that encounter problems with scaling, I think One Roof just continues to get better even though they’re getting bigger. What an anomaly!
Amy Voller 2:25
I agree. I think what they’ve done is tapped into the core needs of their members – you know, what it is that we all need, and they’re all different needs, and have a model that really enables them to just serve those needs. As you said, it just keeps growing.
Mia Fileman 2:42
Yes, so good, and so many inspiring women in that community – just like yourself. I just feel empowered being in that space – physical and virtual – all the time.
Amy Voller 2:55
Absolutely. I agree. It’s a very safe space.
Mia Fileman 2:58
All right. Well, let’s dive into our chat which is all around marketing to millennial women.
First things first, who is a millennial, Amy?
Amy Voller 3:08
Well, it’s interesting, actually.
You go to all the different sources, there’s the date range that slightly differs, but a millennial is also known as Generation Y as opposed to Generation X which is me. It’s a person essentially born between 1980 and 1995 and possibly 1999. There’s overlap between the millennials and Gen Z.
In Australia, they account for about 6.4 million people. Globally, they are around 2 billion – give or take, depending on the date range. We can’t really call them a “segment” and I think that’s something that’s really important probably to think about. It’s a generation and there are some specific demographic and behavioural and attitudinal differences to previous generations and obviously then subsequent generations.
But this generation is really important because they’ve actually grown up. They’re no longer who we used to think of them. A lot of them are becoming parents in the next ten years. I think 80 percent of them in some way will be parents, and that definition or that construct has changed too.
Also, they really have a lot of spending power to your point in the introduction. They are now about 30 percent of retail sales globally and that’s only going to grow, obviously, as they mature and their spending power and earning power matures. That’s who they are really these days.
Mia Fileman 4:48
Wow! They’ve very influential. I just scrape in there, Amy. I’m 1981, so I’m right in there.
I do feel though that I identify a bit more with the Gen X generation just because I’m in there just.
Amy Voller 5:07
It’s like being borderline on the horoscopes, right? You can take a bit of both.
Mia Fileman 5:11
What’s really interesting about millennials, I think, is that they are the last generation to know and remember what life was like before the internet and the gadgets became such mainstream necessities. I remember this at school – when we got our first computer, and we first had an intranet. Then came the internet. I remember a time before Facebook whereas the Gen Z – the generation that comes after the millennials – they don’t know that. They were born as digital natives into a world where Facebook and even Instagram in some cases exists.
Amy Voller 5:48
I think that’s what’s so important about understanding generations because, ultimately, it’s the environment, the societal, and technology constructs that make them different as we all age. I think the younger generations, when they’re exposed to all of that, ultimately now seem to be leading the way in terms of, you know, my generation in a way have caught up because of the millennials with technology.
Mia Fileman 6:16
So true. Great point.
Okay. They’re important. How do we go about trying to connect with them? What matters to millennial women?
Amy Voller 6:25
I think it’s really important to step back and maybe think about what matters to women. As we were just discussing, the reason millennial women are so pivotal is because they’ve had the freedom to be able to voice what they need. Before, we didn’t have the mechanisms with technology. We’ve had the #metoo movement. We’ve had all of these sorts of massive societal or pivotal moments enable women to stand up and be heard.
What’s really important to these women is that they’re understood. It’s still happening today. Even with ten years of advertising changes and some brands getting it really right, there is still today quite a lot of messages and images that women are seeing that just doesn’t resonate. It’s that whole “if you can’t see it, you can’t be it.” I think a lot of brands keep misrepresenting women in images and it’s not what these women want.
In a way, answering that question, I think we have to really get underneath and understood what’s important to millennial women because, in actual fact, if you get that right, you get it right for all women.
Mia Fileman 7:46
Can you give us some examples of brands or specific advertisements that you think have misrepresented women? Do any come to mind?
Amy Voller 7:55
In a way, I’ll use Nike as a brand because I think, in previous times, their sportswear ads and images of women were always thin, tight-fitting sports gear, nobody had lumps and bumps, and they’re out there cycling or doing whatever, but what that did was alienated and frustrated women because, for a start, they didn’t see themselves in those images.
What’s happened over time – and I partly believe it’s because smaller brands and start-up brands who have really tapped into that need and actually figured out that women don’t want to see images of retouched women – they want to see images of all sizes of women. You can see the evolution of a brand like Nike showing now and having a range of sizes of their activewear that is accessible to all women.
In Australia, there’s a brand called Active Truth that I love. This was created by two women that just couldn’t find products that fit them the way they wanted to. They’ve got an entire approach about their images. They don’t retouch women. None of the photographs are retouched. They show real women – whether they’re pregnant, whether they’re petite, whether they’re disabled, whether they’re of any size. What they did as well is their products were designed – not just with one size or pattern and then scaled up or down. They actually created a pattern for every size, so it really fits women because they listened, and they heard, and they knew what was important.
That’s an example of both ends, but I think Active Wear, the beauty brands, you know, really seeing and showing they understand the diversity of women – both in terms of size, in terms of race or cultural diversity, or any of the things that really represents society today.
Mia Fileman 9:57
Those are great examples. Thanks for sharing those.
I spent a few years working for L'Oréal in the Maybelline New York team. This is the biggest cosmetics beauty brand in the world. With Maybelline New York, we used Victoria’s Secret supermodels, specifically for most of our campaigns. They were our brand ambassadors. It’s so interesting to see that, usually, the multinational organisations in the past have set the tone for the smaller brands, but that to your point has completely changed.
Now, it’s start-up brands going from a place of purpose and from a place of value that are actually influencing the bigger brands. Now, we’re seeing titans like Maybelline relook at who they align themselves with in terms of brand ambassadors. Now, we’re seeing a much broader, inclusive spectrum of celebrities that Maybelline New York are using and influencers as well. It’s really those start-up businesses that are trailblazing in that way.
Amy Voller 11:16
I absolutely agree.
I had a similar experience. Britex Childcare obviously is a brand that sells to mothers. Obviously, today, there are some Gen Z mothers coming through, but the predominant number of mothers are millennials.
I remember having a conversation with a European managing director who just wouldn’t believe me – even with data – because he came from a Proctor and Gamble background and “we know how to do this and we’re leading in the field of marketing” that women didn’t want to see images of perfection. They wanted to see reality because, in actual fact, we were perpetuating an expectation that mothers were meant to be perfect, to get back into shape after having their babies, and beautifully strolling down streets in perfect clothes behind your fabulous stroller. That’s not actually what these women wanted.
Mia Fileman 12:18
Gosh, no! The juggle is real, Amy! As an entrepreneur with two young kids and a husband in the military, it’s a shit show. I don’t want to have unrealistic ideals shoved in my face. I know because 99.95 percent of my customers and audience are millennial women. They don’t want that either.
Amy Voller 12:43
To your point that these larger organisations ended up learning from the start-ups, I think that the diversity also starts in the boardroom. It starts in how the marketing teams actually are represented of the population. If you don’t have that diversity, you don’t have the understanding, and the thinking, and the collaborative approach to really being able to address the needs of your customers.
Mia Fileman 13:11
Thank you. That so needed to be said. Thinking back on the team at Maybelline, we were all very pretty, young women from top universities, predominantly white. You know, we had been, I guess, bred by our middle- and upper-class families to put our best foot forward and we had great work experience which ended up landing us in these amazing jobs that 3,000 people applied for, but there wasn’t a lot of diversity in the team. And so, how can you have that marketplace of ideas in a boardroom when the people are just don’t sitting in the room?
Amy Voller 13:52
Very similar – I was one of the only women a lot of the times in rooms where we’re developing products for women. I don’t know if you remember this. It was a couple of years ago. Or it was even last year. I think it was a German sort of dragon’s den – two men got funding for some idea about pink gloves to help remove a tampon. They created a product that no one needed and made it pink for a start. It’s just another expense women have to spend for something that really shouldn’t be an area that men are even deciding what we should or shouldn’t be using.
For me, that was just such an example of the fact that we’ve got so far to go in that space. I think, the more we can have these conversations, we can share what people need. It isn’t just advertising. It goes all the way through.
Mia Fileman 14:55
Yes, I remember that example. It was absolutely ridiculous.
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Tell me, how has the pandemic impacted this generation?
Amy Voller 15:49
I think twofold.
One, millennial generation as a whole because, clearly, they are predominantly the workforce. Generally, I suppose this would be the generation that’s had the most furlough or those that have in Australia probably been kept on because of JobKeeper initially or they haven’t been kept on at some other point. I know, in other countries, they’ve been a huge proportion that have been impacted financially.
And then, women on top of that, I think any of us with school-aged children can relate – whether you’re millennial or not. But I think this generation – given that they are a disproportionate number of parents to school-aged children and mothers – have not only had their industries impacted because women predominantly work in those industries that were closed – beauty industries, hairdressers, hospitality, retail. But then, on top of that, we’ve also been expected and had to juggle home-schooling and the house duties and all of the things that go along with that.
Thankfully, we’re talking about it, but I do think there’s been a hidden toll that we may not really fully appreciate until the next year or so. We know there’s a mental health impact, but I think that generation really has probably been hit hard from an economic perspective. I think the Gen Z will be an interesting one just in terms of the impact to those who are still in university or early work and obviously school.
Mia Fileman 17:32
Yeah. Actually, there’s a term for it now, which is the “she-cession” which represents the reversal of decades of economic progress for women which – in a study that I read – has extended the gender pay gap by a further five percent which is already bad and now devastating because, of course, women were disproportionately affected by the pandemic for those very reasons that you mentioned.
Amy Voller 18:01
Absolutely. I don’t know about your business but, for me, it’s exactly been that. I’ve been huddling in the study nook near my kitchen and having to juggle – if I had a client call in and out and running upstairs to help kids with maths. I’m exhausted. I don’t know how everybody’s been able to get through.
We’re resilient but you know…
Mia Fileman 18:25
I’m just so grateful that I’m an entrepreneur. Imagine if you had that full-time job and you were being paid a salary and you had to be on Zoom at 8:30 in the morning and go until 5:00 and still have client meetings from home with the kids whereas I feel very fortunate that I’m a business owner. The reason why I’m a business owner is I chose my business for flexibility. It has really shown up for me the last two years.
Amy Voller 18:58
I absolutely agree.
I was just doing some research into some women because, obviously, what I help with is growth. I think it was about 80 percent of small businesses so far that I’ve interviewed have had an interruption to their business because of the pandemic – whether it’s been because of the things that we’ve just talked about or whether it’s other issues like supply chains and so forth.
Even as entrepreneurs, we’ve had that flexibility, but I think that business as a whole has had an interruption that to some of them has been quite significantly negative in a financial sense.
Mia Fileman 19:39
Totally. Imagine you’re a photographer or you’re in the wedding industry or in the events industry. I know so many people who’ve lost their businesses. I’ve been very fortunate that I teach small business owners how to run marketing, so I have been even more in-demand. But then, as a result, well, I haven’t been able to take on more customers because, like you, we’ve got home-schooling, we’ve got Google Classroom.
Amy Voller 20:08
Gosh, yes. I think that’s the thing.
To your point, the delay in the gender pay gap being closed, there was a delay in the ability for some of these amazing businesses to grow at the rate that they would have been able to without that.
Mia Fileman 20:22
Okay. How do we as brands go about marketing to millennials? I have lots of thoughts on this, but I would love to hear yours too.
Amy Voller 20:34
For me, I always go back to that piece about truly understanding the problems or the needs that your brand solves in making your target audience’s lives easier. From that point, clearly understanding what’s important to them in terms of their societal issues, environmental factors, the way in which they like to and need to use technology and, at a very starting point, building that into your strategy. I think game-changing innovation only really comes from that point, and that includes the way in which we communicate.
Mia Fileman 21:16
Even though millennials are big spenders, they come with immaculately tuned bullshit detectors. They are digitally savvy. They are hypersensitive to advertising. And so, they don’t actually buy into or fall for flashing ads or gimmicks. In fact, it’s more like that you’re going to drive them away with that kind of BS, right?
Amy Voller 21:44
Celeste Barber – let’s take her as an example. What resonates so well with people is that she kind of calls out that bullshit by parodying these images and this kind of portrayal or non-reality. It’s something that’s not attainable to the average woman.
I think that you’re absolutely right. You have to be genuine. You can’t greenwash your advertising – talk about environmental and how much you’re onboard with climate change – if it actually doesn’t flow all the way through everything you do.
Mia Fileman 22:23
I so agree.
I say this all the time. I think the lowest form of marketing and the lowest depth of misery is virtue signalling. It really grinds my gears where brands want to try to culture-jack or news-jack an issue and try to shoehorn themselves into a conversation that they do not authentically belong in. You can see that it is just purely for the sake of looking good without any kind of purpose built into their business or built into their plan. It is literally just for show and that really, really makes me sad.
Amy Voller 23:11
I agree. I think we’ve seen it especially in the last 20 months in a way.
Think of what’s happened. You’ve had all of these big political moments – not just the pandemic itself. I think all of the brands that have jumped on the bandwagon – as an example, with Black Lives Matter where they had nobody representing in their board, it was too white – I think that the detectors that this generation has is just so tuned in.
I think loyalty comes from providing an experience and constantly showing that you align with the values and what’s expected from the current generation.
Mia Fileman 23:58
Yeah. You put up a black square on your Instagram feed, and then what did you do? Was there anything else behind it? When you were doing your next campaign shoot, did you look at getting racially diverse models to be in the campaign? Have you hired anyone from a minority group? Have you donated to any of those groups? No, you just literally put up a black square on your Instagram and kept going on about your business and patted yourself on the back.
I actually think it’s so inauthentic. This is the reason why it’s so hard to earn trust these days.
Amy Voller 24:40
A lot of the things that I do is work at the product level – you know, really getting that product to be something that a customer buys once and then shouts about because they want to tell everybody else, especially when you’re working with women. I think women – before social media – were the original social media. I think that you’ve got to be genuine even at that level. You can’t put a plastic item that’s not recyclable. The recyclable box is the first step, but you’ve got to be on a journey, and you need to communicate that.
Yes, I absolutely agree.
Mia Fileman 25:19
Millennials are taking action. They’re voicing their discontent with brands like this.
For example, millennials are leaving Facebook in droves. This is especially true since the Trump political campaign and the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal. They are migrating away from politically charged Facebook feeds to the aspirational, image-friendly, safer space of, say, Pinterest which has banned political advertising. There is no gambling. There is no hate speech. There is no racism on Pinterest. Even on Instagram to a lesser degree, but they are taking action. They’re not just saying that they don’t like this. They’re actually voting with their feed and with their pockets.
Amy Voller 26:10
As parents of the next generation of future consumers, I think we’ve seen what negative impact those platforms have because of the cultural approach. The commercial side is so far in front of what they do versus what the end customer actually wants.
I agree with you. I think it’ll be fascinating to see how that evolves, especially with the rebranding to Meta. I mean, you can rebrand yourself, but you can’t rebrand away from your reputation. I think that’s just so fascinating to see what’s going to happen there. Are they going to become the Nokia of the next evolution? I don’t know.
Mia Fileman 26:59
Well, a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf.
Amy Voller 27:02
Mia Fileman 27:04
We mentioned earlier that millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. Instead, they are really motivated and influenced by product feedback and reviews. This really influences their shopping behaviour. In fact, 60 percent of millennials are impacted by product reviews, and 70 percent of millennials prefer endorsements by their peers versus celebrities. This is something that I’ve been banging on about for the last 18 months but brands today who are wanting to reach millennial audiences need to be building user-generated content campaigns. They need to be getting all of that incredible user data, reviews, testimonials, shoutouts, mentions, and turning that into their marketing because it is so much more authentic and so much more believable than brand-led advertising.
Amy Voller 28:03
I couldn’t agree more.
Even in the mother marketplace in the sense of all the products that you buy, it’s a whole new experience when you come into contact with brands you’d never have noticed before. Most of the purchase decisions are made by asking recommendations from other mothers. I think the brand itself rates third or fourth down the list.
Mia Fileman 28:31
Amy Voller 28:31
It is. That is why the experience, the quality of the product, the way in which the after-service is delivered is also so important to getting repeat purchase from millennials.
Mia Fileman 28:42
Exactly, the whole customer journey.
For most brands now, they pay for the product before they even get it if they’re shopping online. And so, we need to be considering what happens after the purchase. The customer journey doesn’t end with the purchase. In some cases, it only just begins because then you’ve got to get the product or the service, and then you’ve got to experience it, and then evaluate it. All of that happens after the customer has parted with their money.
Amy Voller 29:10
Absolutely. Even managing complaints well can drive loyal customers. I don’t think that there’s enough thought about, as you said, the entire customer journey.
Mia Fileman 29:20
The other thing that’s really interesting – and this is maybe why I identify more with Gen X than Gen Y or the millennials – is just how much they love their influencers and how motivated they are by influencers which I’m not actually all that into, but I think that, if you are a brand that markets to millennial customers, especially if you are in the beauty, fashion, lifestyle, food space, you need a social media influencer strategy.
Amy Voller 30:01
When we think of influencers, they don’t have to be people who have millions of followings – like your Kardashians. The micro influencer in some respects actually can be more credible because it’s how engaged they are with the content and how transparent and honest they are with how they choose the brands that they wish to then partner with.
Mia Fileman 30:25
That is a really good point. Yes, you are totally right.
I think we need to reimagine what an influencer is. It’s not necessarily a 25-year-old doing yoga in her G-string on Instagram. It could be somebody with a micro or even nano following that has influence over their audience. I guess I just love collaboration so much that I would just naturally be more inclined towards a brand-to-brand collaboration than I would to an influencer but, as a marketer, I know how powerful they are.
Amy Voller 31:05
In a way, this comes back to the whole evolution of marketing and understanding that, whilst the core principles really haven’t changed, it’s the way in which you then execute that needs to evolve just like continuing to understand the customer and the environment in which you’re targeting these people and what’s important to them because it will always evolve.
Mia Fileman 31:31
Traditionally, the way that we used to segment audiences was with demographics – you know, women, 35-plus, earning $70,000 a year, living in Melbourne. That is actually not a good way to segment target audiences anymore because you could take two 35-year-old women living in Melbourne earning $75,000 a year who are going to differ substantially when it comes to their values, to their beliefs, to their purchase behaviours.
Instead, we need to use psychographic and behavioural targeting to segment our audiences. That has never been more important because millennial women today demand – not just expect – that the brands that they choose to invest with align with them on values.
Amy Voller 32:19
Absolutely, even to the point where the traditional way of doing market research to your point and taking the easy route and just getting demographics. I think also we really need to be able to walk in the shoes of our target audience and really understand what problems we’re solving for them. How are we making their lives easier or better? How are we helping them feel better?
Mia Fileman 32:49
There are some brands who are doing this incredibly well where it’s not virtue signalling and it’s not just for the purposes of show. Some of those examples are like Who Gives a Crap and Zero Waste Co and even Tom’s Shoes where making the world a better place has been built into their brand strategy. It is not a bolt-on. It’s not an afterthought. It drives the whole premise of their business.
Amy Voller 33:25
I think that’s what’s key. Even for small businesses, even start-ups, having that understanding that your brand strategy is everything you do. It isn’t just the external imagery that you project.
Mia Fileman 33:43
So true. A brand is not a logo.
Amy Voller 33:44
Mia Fileman 33:46
Cause marketing is really important to millennials, especially if it comes from a place of authenticity.
The other thing that is a little bit more tactical in terms of how to market to millennials is that they just freaking love videos. They love them. I think it’s because they’re busy. They are mums. They are working mums. A lot of them are leaving the workforce corporate careers to start businesses. There has been an absolutely exponential increase in the number of new businesses in Australia even during the pandemic with so many women fed up with the corporate rigmarole that they’re starting their own businesses. And so, they’re busy and they don’t have time to read your 22-minute sales page and instead want to watch your two-minute video or your 30-second Instagram reel.
Amy Voller 34:45
I think what’s also important to add to that is, when we’re scrolling and busy, a lot of people – I think the stat was quite high – around 70 to 80 percent don’t watch with sound. You need to have the text over your video to make sure that you’re capturing those people too because we’re all looking to snack on content.
Mia Fileman 35:09
So true. That is a great point.
All right. To wrap up our chat today, Amy – which has been such a good one – thank you! I think some of the takeaways are that millennial women are well-informed, and they make decisions wisely so don’t try to trick them. Instead, show that you care by providing what really matters to them and make sure that you align with their values and meet them where they are.
Did you have anything else you wanted to add to that, Amy?
Amy Voller 35:39
I probably said it a few times, but for me it’s also to make sure that your offer – whether it’s a physical product or a service – really does actually address a need or solve a problem because people want experiences these days. They don’t just want to buy things.
Mia Fileman 35:57
That is so true. Sell your story and not the product or the service. That is a great way to end.
I really appreciate your time today.
How can people get in touch with you?
Amy Voller 36:11
People can check me out on my website. It’s amyvoller.com. Reach out to me on Instagram as well – it’s amy.voller. I’m always open and happy to chat to anybody obligation-free. My goal is really just to help women in business grow their products and services.
Mia Fileman 36:34
Amazing! You recently launched a podcast.
Amy Voller 36:38
Mia Fileman 36:39
Tell us a little bit about that.
Amy Voller 36:40
My podcast is called Thrive and Grow. Essentially, a little bit like you, Mia, I want to share a lot of the tips and tricks, mistakes and successes that I’ve had along my 21-year journey, and also to talk to other wonderful people out there that can share expertise that I don’t have that will help businesses employ strategies to grow for themselves.
Mia Fileman 37:05
Great! Awesome. Well, everyone, check that out.
Thank you again, Amy!
Amy Voller 37:10
Mia Fileman 37:12
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