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The Futurist: Cracking the Millennial code

According to a report on CNBC, the APAC region is home to 60% of the world’s Millennials, whose purchasing power is always increasing. But it’s increasingly hard for brands to reach them. To grow, brands need to win their hearts and minds. But that’s easier said than done.

Since Millennials have grown up with instant access to global information, they’re very picky about what they pay attention to. All day long, they’re sharing photos and stories, and that next big thing you haven’t heard of (yet) with their friends and everyone else. They buy brands instantly and are never more than two clicks away from either your brand, or your competitor’s. If you manage to reach them, expect rocket ship growth. If you don’t, all I can do is wish you luck.

While there’s no formula for cracking the Millennial code, here are four guiding principles — and two things to keep in mind:

1. Continuing change – Which developments appear likely to continue being relevant in the future?

2. Evidence –  Have new ideas led to transformational ROI-delivering results? Specifically, I’ll refer to campaigns for two of our biggest and most successful brands.

So (drum roll please), here are the new 4Ps of digital marketing to reach Millennials.


This is something that’s announced and acted upon, and not just a tiny line on a mission statement. Belief driven buyers hate silence and can be vocal about brands that don’t support inclusion and diversity.


Brands now compete for consumers’ attention and the most effective method is to genuinely add value to their lives by co-creating experiences that they love. The key is to understand what they’re passionate about.


Today’s consumers demand personalisation, as well as a personal connection. The biggest challenge with  personalisation has always been scale. But technology and data can help us overcome this. For a personal connection, the key is to work with influencers who your consumers trust.

Neutrogena’s City-Proof Your Skin campaign, for us, has achieved this for two straight years. It uses live data such as location, temperature, humidity and pollution to give people contextual and personally relevant messages featuring Taiwanese star Ariel Lin.


This one’s a personal favourite. Millennials are used to getting what they want immediately, so they aren’t waiting around for us to get our act together. In other words, if we snooze, we lose.

1. Speed of digital content creation – Selfie Soundtracks and City-Proof Your Skin succeeded because they responded to consumers in real-time, whether that meant matching an awesome selfie to the latest Taylor Swift song or helping someone protect their skin from a pollution spike.

2. Speed of consumer experience – Both campaigns featured rapidly completed interactions such as instant image analysis and music recommendations using AI, one-click offers and quick six-second ads.

So to survive, you need to make sure your brand is driven by a purpose, supports consumers’ passions, is personally relevant and does it all, pronto.

The writer is Richa Goswami, head of digital, Asia Pacific, Johnson & Johnson. The article first appeared in Marketing’s The Futurist print edition.