Marketing to Millennials: How can government join the party?

Marketing to Millennials: How can government join the party?

Have you heard about Millennial Mania? It’s currently dominating the marketing landscape, brands are fixated on it and businesses are obsessing over it, anxiously performing study upon study and survey upon survey in an attempt to determine just what do these millennials want from us?!

In the government space, Millennial Mania hasn’t quite hit. In fact, for some government communicators, audience segmentation simply isn’t something that government needs to worry about. As such, they’re manifestly immune to Millennial Mania.

Look, we’re not in the business of making attendance at the millennial party mandatory. But just bear with us as we give you a few insights as to why you might want to take up your invite.

The millennial: a young adult, between 18 and 35, embodying the conflicting personality traits of confidence and tolerance, entitlement and narcissism; they are the “selfie” generation. They are “digital natives”, they grew up with digital disruption and you can bet your bottom dollar that when they’re talking about the Cloud, they’re not talking about a visible mass of condensed watery vapour floating in the atmosphere.

There are 4.2 million millennials in Australia, meaning they constitute 20.5 percent of the country’s total population.

So if you’re asking the question should government be marketing to millennials then the answer is a resounding yes. How can you afford not to?

A more helpful question perhaps is how government should be communicating with millennials. And for that, I have this to offer. Our top three tips for how government can join the marketing to millennials party:

  1. Make sure your content is relevant and engaging. I know, seems obvious doesn’t it? And of course this doesn’t just apply to the millennial demographic. But given that many millennials have never experienced a life without social media, or the oversaturation of information that we live with today, you can’t expect them to simply accept government messaging on face value. They expect to be engaged directly, to be given the opportunity to interrogate and criticise and question the content put in front of them.


  1. Get into a relationship (no commitment-phobes allowed!). I mean you, yes you, as a government communicator, need to invest in your relationship with millennials. How do you do that? You talk to them. It’s about dialogue and conversation – about building a community that relate positively to you and your messages. It’s a long-term strategy that sure, requires commitment over time. But the pay-offs, in the shape of engaged citizens and advocates, can be massive.


  1. Think mobile. 77% of Australians now own a smartphone, and you’d be pretty hard pressed to find a millennial still rocking a Nokia 3310. Optimizing your content for mobile means making sure that your website still functions on a mobile device, laying off overloading your audience with images which slows down the load time of your pages and ensuring that all of your key messages are clear, even on a smaller screen.

Ultimately, Millennial Mania isn’t going anywhere: this is an audience that needs and wants to be engaged with – including from the government.

Time for government to dive head first in to the millennial mindset, I think.

Lydia holds a Bachelor of History from the University of Sussex as well as a Masters in History (Genocide Studies) from the University of Amsterdam. Her communications experience includes working in the not-for-profit, public and now private sectors. Fortunately, given her chosen career path, writing is her absolute favourite activity (especially when flanked by a coffee and a dog).

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