3 tips on reaching, engaging and converting millennials from Rihanna

The success of the Rihanna should come as no surprise to astute marketers. Beyond her musical talent lies a business acumen tailor-made for marketing. You would have to be a true marketing connoisseur to do what she and her team have done:
She wasthe most streamed female artist on Spotify for the with over 2.5 billion streams in 2016
She recently jumped over Elvis on the list of all-time Top 5Billboard Hot 100 hit She's starring in the highly anticipated Oceans 8 reboot.

Suffice it to say that Rihanna is an under-30 marketing master, with plenty to teach. Here are some helpful Rih-Rih takeaways:

1. Heal the world.


Rihanna has time and again proven her dedication to making the world a better place.  In 2006, she formed the Believe Foundation to help terminally ill children. In partnership with charities across the nation, Rihanna has performed a number of concerts to raise funds for those charities and her foundation. After her performances, she frequently meets with youth from local charities to sign autographs and pose for pictures.

In true millennial fashion, the altruistic star explains her reasoning for giving back, “When I was young and I would watch television and I would see all the children suffering, I always said, ‘When I grow up, I want to help.’”

From taking time out for little acts of kindness, such as signing a gaming console for an auction benefiting Mission Australia, or helping a mother of two find a bone marrow donor, her commitment to charity has extended to being named the2017 Harvard University “Humanitarian of the Year.”

Rih’s commitment to helping others mirrors the goals and aspirations of her generation. Millennials are passionate about giving time and money to causes they believe in and don’t distinguish between their personal and professional lives when engaging in causes, according to a recent study. They are also more inclined than their elders to say that they would buy products from a company that contributes to charity or to recommend the business to a friend.

2. Royalty Breeds Loyalty

Rihanna is known for her intimate relationship with her fans affectionately known as the “Rihanna Navy.” The “Navy” is a group of strong, loyal brand ambassadors who all love Rihanna and have been inspired by her. The group comprises hardcore Rih-Rih fans who have been 'stanning' for her since 2005. While they consider her “the queen,” she’s gone out of her way to treat them like royalty.

While some celebrities simply smile when asked to take a picture or meeting a fan, Rihanna has never been shy about showing her troops affection. Whether she is grabbing a body part or giving them a hug, the singer treats her fans like she has known them for years.

During her “ANTI World Tour” last summer, she made a stop in Manchester, UK. She was met with dark clouds and gloomy skies that left the city and concertgoers soaking wet outside of the Emirates Old Trafford Stadium while waiting for her show to begin. This upset the benevolent songstress so much so that she sent over a team with towels for drenched concertgoers to dry off. In most cases, this would have been enough to garner a boatload of press, but leave it to Her Majesty to go above and beyond the protocol of customer relationship management. In addition to comforting them, Rihanna also ordered several boxes of pizza as a sign of appreciation to her adorers. She didn’t just send the interns to hand out slices...she labeled the boxes with her coveted John Hancock.

Her customer relationships stand as an example of the strong role emotions play in consumer actions. Like any brand should, she takes advantage of opportunities that foster personal interaction, this is appreciated by consumers and it strengthens their emotional bond, it also creates a sense of trust and, in some cases, sparks a level friendship that goes beyond a sale.

An empowered consumer/customer/or user who feels a connection with you and your brand can then create a domino effect. These fans have the potential to become authentic brand ambassadors who will gladly share your message. And, with 91 percent of millennials willing to make a purchase based on a friend’s recommendation, this domino effect can be almighty.

3. Create special experiences.


Rihanna took over Paris, back in December 2014 as she left a photo shoot, to meet up with her fans at the Trocadero Square. In the video below, you’ll see Rihanna look out the window as her vehicle approaches the location, with thousands of her #RihannaNavy members going wild, screaming and cheering her on.

“This is one of the craziest things I’ve ever done,” she says.

The quick and chaotic scene was orchestrated beautifully, with the Bajan Beauty waving and smiling while crowd-surfing in front of the Eiffel Tower amidst cheers and cameras flashing in the night.

Rihanna understands the millennial’s appreciation for special experiences. She knows her fans crave meaningful experiences and memories more than they do possessions. In fact, a Harris study showed that more than 78% of millennials would choose to spend money on an experience or event over a purchase. A lot of this has to do with distributing photos and videos on social media. That same Harris Poll found that factors such as a craving for recognition (for example, how many likes someone gets on their Instagram post), and a "fear of missing out" (known as “FOMO”) help drive the cravings for phenomenal experiences. In Rihanna’s case, her Navy feels empowered and excited about their special experiences with her and they make sure to share them across social platforms.

Businesses and brands need to consider how they create similar, meaningful experiences for their own consumers. We can’t all be as provocative as Rihanna, but we can go the extra mile to engage consumers on an intimate level.

Strategize ways to connect your consumers with one another and build a flock of like-minded individuals. A sense of community has a strong influence on millennial buying decisions and their motivation to engage with you. Rihanna adeptly uses these traits to create shared memories with her fans, enticing the rest of the world to join the “Navy.”

About The Author

 Roger is the founder and Managing Partner at PCM. He currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and 2-year-old son.

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