CMO Insights: Engaging with Millennials

Insights from Bank of Melbourne's CMO on engaging with digital and Millennials.


The shift in generational expectations has been felt in boardrooms for some years now, underestimating not only the expectations of digital natives but the golden nuggets of business value and insights contained within.

It is no surprise then that an astonishing 40% of marketing executives at OmniChannel Media’s CMO Disrupt, Sydney believe their organisation does not understand their customer’s needs.

Held at the Art Gallery of NSW, CMO Disrupt, Sydney brought over 170 of Australia’s leading CMOs and marketing executives together to discuss the challenge of digital disruption from marketing executive’s perspectives.

It is no secret that executives across the board are finding it difficult to connect with the digitally astute Millennial market. Following these statistical findings, CMO from Bank of Melbourne, Jac Phillips put forward that it is “not for the faint-hearted.”

Phillips suggests this is a result of the high expectations of the evolving, digitally-focused market and the difficulty of meeting these expectations.

“Today is a fast moving, omnichannel environment and the market has high expectations. They are generally connected, digitally savvy with high expectations.

Unless you have robust CRM systems and a focused relationship management team, it is very challenging to really ‘know’ your customers and even more challenging to anticipate their wants and needs,” she explained.

Failing to fully understand the customer means that marketing organisations will struggle to build a strong relationship with them and engage with them fully. With statistics implying only a mere 5% of organisations believed all areas of the business are engaged with the customer, the marketing department of most organisations still have a lot of work to do.

When asked about what future challenges the marketing team will face and how they plan to address these challenges, Phillips argued that using data analytics can afford executives an insight into their target audience and allow them to address the needs of the individual.

Segmenting the market by demographics is not necessarily the key to gaining these insights, as Phillips said “The trick is really knowing your target audience, having access to customer data and then using analytics to segment them based on attitude [and] behaviour.”

Since society is adopting a more digital approach, it is not accurate to assume that all older generations interact with the digital age differently to Millennials.

By personalising the experience and offering the customers rewards that are targeted specifically to them, organisations will successfully create an intimate experience that connects the customer to the brand. However, Phillips is careful to highlight the difficulties of achieving this experience for every customer.

As Phillips stated, “Talking to them in a way they relate to, using channels they like and serving up offers and opportunities that delight them. Easily said, harder to actually execute every time to everyone!”

Polling results indicated that 82% believed Millennials want a faster and digital-first approach to customer service. However, this inevitably outlined a further challenge for the marketing teams.

Phillips suggested the answer was in the leadership of the organisations and how important it is for executives to understand how crucial a creative and agile organisation is within this changing environment. Essentially, they need to not only be willing to adapt but also quickly so they remain relevant and ahead of the competition.

“Not only do we need to be responding in real time, we also need to (at the same time) be innovative and be thinking how do we solve problems and/or identify opportunities which haven’t even been considered yet,” said Phillips.

Ultimately, CMO Disrupt Sydney 2016 revealed that whilst many organisations have already implemented customer-centric strategies, they still need to work on understanding their customer to a higher extent. This lies at the core of all future marketing strategies.

The Millennial crowd and the challenges they are posing to marketing teams are a mere sign of things to come, as technology becomes an innate concept to the growing generations; as essential to living as breathing.