Marketing to Millennials: Position Your Brand Around Sharing

By Corey Padveen

Leveraging the share economy to market to Millennials isn’t going to be a strategy that suits every brand. For some, there simply isn’t going to be a way to organically integrate a sharing component into a product or marketing strategy. To effectively leverage the share economy, you can run through a checklist that will help you determine whether your brand is capable of utilizing the strategy. See how many of the following items you can check off:

  • You have an active community forum.
  • You have a peer-to-peer opportunity.
  • You can afford short-term opportunity costs.
  • Your product or service has an online component.

You have an active community forum

You need to have a community focus if you want to participate in the share economy. If your customer experience doesn’t include engaging with a larger community about your brand, product, or even your industry, then taking full advantage of the share economy may be difficult.

A community forum can take different shapes. It can be owned by your brand, where the majority of participants are either customers or hot prospects, or it can be industry-based. If you manufacture power tools, for example, the community forum may include a topic like home improvement with an audience made up of general contractors or builders. The key is to have an online discussion that engages your specific audience.

You have a peer-to-peer opportunity

The ability to share content has been a pain point for many industries that rely on individual consumption, as opposed to community use of a limitless, digital product, such as software accessed via a cloud service online. As brands have recognized that fighting market demand has no value, they have made adjustments. Instead of adjusting to this demand, your aim should be to create supply for it. Your digital content should be shareable and possess certain qualities that actually encourage users to share your information with one another.

You can afford short-term opportunity costs

Being able to afford short-term opportunity costs is likely going to be the hardest point to check off on your share economy campaign checklist. Service-based organizations that provide a platform for sharing, such as Uber or Airbnb, don’t have the same opportunity cost as other brands because they own their platform.

Leveraging the share economy may mean providing your product for free or for a single fee to several users. In the past, you may have individually charged each user. The benefit of this kind of sharing with Millennials produces short-term brand exposure and long-term loyalty.

The question most marketers or business owners need to ask themselves is whether these benefits outweigh the opportunity costs involved in this strategy.

Your product or service has an online component

The online component serves two purposes. For brands that have online content or logins, an online component makes sharing simpler and can lead to a rapid rise in adoption. For all brands, both those with an online product or service and those that operate offline, the online discussion serves to heighten awareness of the campaign and mitigate the short-term opportunity cost.

If you find that your brand, product, or service meets these criteria, then you’re in a great position to take advantage of the share economy by capitalizing on the Millennial’s desire for access over ownership.