Millennials workingThe Millennial Generation is one of the most controversial topics in marketing today. Some reports claim Millennials are fleeing brands in hordes, while other reports claim Millennials are the most brand-loyal generation ever. So what’s going on here?

Ultimately, it comes down to a difference in values. Despite the nightmarish student loan debt figures you might’ve seen, Millennials are consuming as much as other generations, which demands a proactive marketing strategy and brand authority to successfully reach this demographic. Ready to increase your brand’s visibility and sales with Millennials? Here are three things Millennials value most from brands:

Authenticity

Traditional advertising — with ALL CAPS messages, hyped-up benefits, and flashy images — isn’t working for the Millennial Generation. On the contrary, Millennials seem to value brand authenticity, which involves realistic portrayals of not only your products/services, but also the brand itself. They don’t want to salivate over tremendous promises, only to be disappointed in the end. Millennials want to know exactly what they’re getting from you and why they should get it from you instead of your competitors.

To improve the authenticity of your marketing strategy, personalizing the experience for potential and current customers is a must. Whether this involves handwritten thank-you notes after they visit you (with contact information for any problems or future appointments) or responding quickly to folks who message you via social media, there are plenty of ways to generate a more authentic perception of your brand and all that it has to offer.

Social Responsibility

The Millennial Generation is driven by social and environmental change. They’re health conscious and they want brands and corporations to make a positive impact in their communities and the world around them. They’re more likely to consume organic, free trade and ethically produced goods than other generations, and they highly favor brands that regularly give back to the community through charitable efforts, nonprofit sponsorships, and other socially responsible activities.

So how can you reach out to Millennials who strongly value social responsibility? Start by broadcasting your support on social media, in your company newsletter, or even in printed marketing collateral. In line with the desire for authenticity however, you can’t just say you support something without demonstrating your alliance with a cause or charitable organization. This means you should strive to donate goods/services to local nonprofits, partner with organizations to improve the lives of others, and actively seek out new opportunities to improve the well-being of the community as a whole.

Engagement

Millennials don’t want to be marketed at, they want to play an active role in the brand/consumer relationship. This is where engagement comes in, because if you’re ignoring your fan base on social media or haven’t looked at your unclaimed Yelp page in a while, you might be missing out on incredibly valuable opportunities to engage with potential customers.

To increase your brand’s level of engagement, dedicate more time to responding to reviews (both positive and negative), embrace a user-generated content marketing strategy that allows your fans to show off the awesome things your brand has done for their lives, and seek out any way you can create a more human relationship with customers in an increasingly disconnected world.