How Brands Are Using Hyperlocal Marketing to Reach Millennial Shoppers

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If there’s any group of consumers likely to respond positively to location-based marketing, it’s millennials. Members of the millennial generation—generally defined as those born between 1982 and 2004—are more comfortable receiving targeted digital ads than consumers in other generations, and they’re warming to technologies like NFC and mobile payments.

Millennials are also big spenders, becoming the largest and most important demographic for retailers. With 85% of millennials now owning smartphones, compared to 71% of the total population in the U.S., and one-quarter of millennials making 100% of their online purchases via smartphones, now is the time for brands to start pulling out the stops to capture the attention of this influential demographic.

Here’s how five brands have targeted millennials with location-based strategies, along with insights into what made their tactics so successful.

1. Barneys New York: Turning a mobile app into a traveler’s resource
Understanding the likelihood that millennial shoppers will have smartphones with them at all times, Barneys New York launched an iBeacon platform with its mobile app to help customers navigate in and around its flagship store in Manhattan. Shoppers can opt to receive notifications when the items in their mobile shopping carts are available at the store they’re at. Personalized recommendations are also pushed to consumers based on the content that they have opened in The Window, which is Barneys’ shoppable interactive magazine. Utilizing location technology, the Barneys app provides recommendations for dining and sightseeing spots near its flagship store, which makes the app relevant and useful even when shoppers are outside the store.

2. America’s Mattress: Using call tracking to better target online promotions.
Noticing that the majority of millennial shoppers were researching products on their smartphones before coming in-store to shop, the marketing team at America’s Mattress of Onalaska crafted a hyperlocal strategy that involved shifting its advertising budget away from offline channels and toward digital channels, such as search marketing, call tracking and recording, and online promotions. Call tracking helps America’s Mattress determine where calls are coming from, and this information is then used in deciding which city-specific or neighborhood-specific keywords to use in online promotions. The company also increases its promotions during the back-to-school season, when younger shoppers are more likely to purchase mattresses as they return to college after summer break.

3. Taco Bell: Placing ads inside navigation apps
Tens of millions of people use Waze to navigate from their smartphones. Working with the digital agency DigitasLBi, Taco Bell found a way to capitalize on the app’s rapid growth with a campaign that took both time and place into account. In an effort to reach millennials who watch college football, Taco Bell placed ads on Waze every Saturday morning during football season. The ads were designed specifically to promote the Taco 12 Pack, which people could theoretically take to game-day parties. Waze users who clicked on the ads were given directions to the nearest Taco Bell location. As of 2014, 3% of users who saw ads on Waze expressed purchase intent by clicking the “Drive There” button.

4. Loacker: Partnering with businesses that cater to millennials
Loacker is an Italian company with a long history of making cream wafers and chocolate. To target the company’s prime demographic of “millennial foodies,” Loacker has turned to in-store marketing, refining the products it sells based on local tastes. (For example, lemon sells better on the East Coast, and dark chocolate sells better on the West Coast.) Loacker has also worked with the e-commerce giant Zulily to create limited-run campaigns aimed at millennial moms. During the back-to-school shopping season, Loacker put free product in every box that Zulily shipped out.

5. Jeep: Taking advantage of mobile for cross-channel advertising experiences
Knowing that millennials are the fastest growing segment of car buyers, Jeep targets this group through both traditional and non-traditional marketing tactics. The company became an early pioneer in the space when it partnered with JiWire (now NinthDecimal) as a sponsor on the vendor’s WiFi Finder app. Consumers who opened the WiFi Finder app saw an ad for Jeep’s Grand Cherokee on the initial landing page. The strategy gave Jeep a chance to try a cross-channel approach, reaching consumers across multiple devices and engaging through social networks via the app’s integrations. Jeep has also partnered with Thinknear on a test program designed to measure the impact of location data quality on driving traffic to local dealerships.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.



Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.