Limerent and Millennial Marketing
I’m Kris, the founder of Limerent Communications. To start off our blog, I’d like to share the story of our agency with you.
Since 1999, I have been researching and studying how young people consume information, communicate and make decisions. I have designed hundreds of successful messaging campaigns, and in each one of those campaigns, I have gained a little deeper insight into “what makes those crazy kids do what they do,” along the way of becoming an expert in communicating with young people.
I hear all the time how “kids today” are so different than the generations before them. They have all of these gadgets and instant access to everything. It is true over the last fifteen years technology has drastically affected how young people consume information and communicate.
What I have learned is communicating with young people is a two part process. It is essential to understand how young people communicate but it is even more important that you understand why they choose to engage in something or not.
What’s important when marketing to millennials?
I can remember having a heated debate in our office many years ago about whether MySpace was going to diminish the importance of email as a communication tool for young people. Since then, we have had lots of discussions about lots of different communication channels. Social media has grown and evolved, and texting has stood the test of time.
In all of these years, what I have learned is that understanding technology is critical in understanding how teens consume information and communicate but it reveals very little about why young people make decisions.
Why young people today make the decisions they do has not changed very much over the last 60 years. Being a young person today is not much different in many ways to being a young person in 1950.
Young people today still think their parents are ruining their lives and don’t understand anything. They also crave independence, lose control of their faculties at the mere thought of an object of their desire and covet being accepted. What I call the big four – Danger, Defiance, Anti-Authority and Sex have been a powerful force in motivating and shaping young people’s decisions for at least the last 60 years, and are just as powerful today as ever.
Love and Passion
From my research over the last 15 years, I have learned that there are many behaviors that motivate and shape young people’s decisions. I have cataloged over two dozen forces that I have found significantly impact the decisions of young people. What I found that was even more important was that they all had one thing in common. They all tap into the over-sized amount of passion that young people are full of.
In all my time listening to young people, I bet half of it has been spent listening to what or who “they are going to die without.” I have participated or observed hundreds if not thousands of conversations that if you had never been a young person yourself, you might think the person talking could really die.
“If so and so does not ask me to the dance I will just die.”
“If I don’t get these shoes I am going to die.”
Everyone can picture a young person saying that or remember saying something similar themselves. Somewhere in all these conversations, I realized one of the main elements in all of these conversations was love or passion.
Young people don’t simply like something – they love it. They don’t merely want something they are “obsessed” with it. Young peoples’ feelings are intensified to an amazing degree and to really connect with young people you have to understand this and how these strong emotions guide their decisions and their behavior.
In my career working with young people I have seen the power that Love and Passion have on young people. If you can tap into the love and passion that young people have you can make a strong meaningful connection with them.
In 2010, I was reading an article that referenced the state of being limerent. The article was describing a researcher and author named Dorothy Tennov who was studying the physical and psychological state of infatuation or love and coined the term, limerent, to help describe what she had seen in her research.
Being limerent has been described as being in “an involuntary interpersonal state that involves intrusive, obsessive and compulsive thoughts, feelings and behaviors that are contingent on perceived emotional reciprocation from the object of interest.”
Once I read more about limerent behavior, it all started to come together for me. Young people are walking around falling in and out of love on an ongoing basis. They are feeling the intense emotions of being attracted to someone or something.
While the neurosis and compulsion come with trying to have that feeling reciprocated, the gut wrenching physical and psychological pain comes with feeling rejected or unfulfilled. The big difference is that these intense feelings that adults reserve for only the closest people in their lives, young people feel for just about everything.
I have come to understand that being proficient in digital communication channels is important to get your message to young people. If you don’t understand the feelings and emotions that shape young people’s decisions and behaviors or how to take that information to create a message that connects to young people in a passionate, meaningful way, knowing how to use Facebook, Twitter or any other marketing channel is almost useless.
Here at Limerent, we live by the mantra, “Get Limerent”. It is a choice to dive into, not just the places young people go and communicate but to feel what they feel.