Simple Sticks: What Millennial dating habits can teach brands

Posted by Elyssa Jakim on February 14th, 2014 at 7:00 am

According to research from our global strategic branding firm Siegel+Gale, Millennials (those born between 1982 and 1994) define simple as seamless, smart and intuitive. What’s nice about my love life is that I don’t have to drastically adjust my habits to incorporate OkCupid. Probably not surprising: I adore Netflix and Birchbox too because they tell me what I will probably like, so I don’t have to do a lot of looking myself.

Non-Millennials (born before 1982) expect to experience more interruptions as they travel down the road of life. Each time they need to integrate a new technology or product into their lives, they have to stop to consider the options and weigh them against what they’ve seen before. If you’re a non-Millennial, the study tells us, you consider simple to mean something that’s functional, trustworthy and genuine—qualities that Millennials don’t always jump to first.

My behavior is not an aberration at all. It’s our world right now and this is something brands can take advantage of. If brands look closely at Millennial dating habits (a great motivator of the young), they stand to win our much-coveted loyalty, hearts and, well, money. Our psyches say: why take him on a “date” when he can meet me and my friends for a beer? Why have a conversation to define the relationship when our social media practices can do it for us?

For Millennials, the intuitive, casual kind of simple sticks.

Seamless sticks

My friends and I agree: OKCupid is here to stay. It’s a thing. Answer a few questions, import some photos from Facebook. You don’t even have to bother figuring out if you might like someone because OkCupid does it for you.

Tinder is a stripped down version of OKCupid—so much the better. You connect with your Facebook profile to meet potential dates by swiping right or left (meaning yes or no).

Grouper is a service that plans group dates, based on two of the participants’ similarities (found via Facebook). It’s easy—the entire date is planned for you. There’s zero commitment—you (and the prospective date) bring along two friends. Done.

Thanks to these guys I can feel proactive about dating even when I’m lying on my couch watching Breaking Bad and sending messages to prospects. I can curate my week in a few swipes.

Free sticks

Millennials don’t like big buy-ins. Tinder and OKCupid don’t ask you to pay anything or work very hard to connect. Typical non-Millennial dating sites (Match.comeHarmony) have long questionnaires and fees.

OkCupid is actually based on a freemium model (meaning if you want to be a more involved user, you can pay for the full version). This might be the ideal business plan for brands looking to win me over. Millennials are always seeking the next new, cool, big thing, and we’re willing to sift through mountains of unsatisfying options to find it (much like swiping all the “No’s” on Tinder until I find a “Yes”).

Creative sticks

Over the past few months, brands have increasingly leveraged these popular dating apps to better target the Millennial audience. FOX used Tinder to advertise their show The Mindy Project, reaching its target demographic by creating profiles for characters on the show (I said “yes” to Danny Castellano). The episode that followed referenced Tinder, creating a sort-of inside-joke that made me feel appreciated, special and catered to.

HBO’s Girls recently used Snapchat to promote the next season’s premiere. While not a dating app (per-se), they were able to immediately reach their target audience in a fun and creative way. Brands that go above and beyond to speak our language and meet us where/how we are will have tremendous opportunities with Millennials.

A reason to stick around

Brands can learn a few lessons in Millennial branding and marketing from these popular apps. As a Millennial, this is selfish really, but it might just be mutually beneficial. Whether or not I’m single on February 14, this kind of love and understanding from brands is worth a million Valentines—a true romance. If you stick with simple, I’ll stick with you.

Analysis and insights provided by Elspeth Ross

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