Marketing to Millennials: “Generation Me”
As a millennial myself, I know we have a bad rap. But trust me when I tell you that millennials are an exciting group of people. They’ve seen and lived through the attacks on 9/11, the economic recession of 2008 and 2020, and the emergence of Covid-19. The emergence of Covid-19 changed the way millennials think about work, with many ditching their jobs for the entrepreneur experience. In June 2020, I read an article from the Washington Post. “Why Millennials Are Often Called ‘the Unluckiest Generation.’ This article highlighted all of the events that have been part of the millennial experience as we entered the 21st century. We will use new technologies and new thinking to solve problems in large and small ways all over the planet. We will use new technologies and new thinking to solve problems in large and small ways all over the planet. As time goes on, I believe that we will be remembered as a generation defined by its ability to work together, despite all odds. We are already seeing the first signs of this in our day. People from diverse backgrounds and nationalities have come together to accomplish amazing feats, and this trend will only become more prevalent over time.
There is no denying that marketing to millennials is essential for any business that wants to stay relevant. But what exactly does it take to the market for this notoriously hard-to-reach demographic? And once you have their attention, how do you keep them engaged?
Here are a few key things to keep in mind when trying to market to millennials:
Millennials: The Stats
They crave authenticity and transparency. They are incredibly connected and always online. Suppose you are looking for brands that align with their values. They are passionate about causes and social issues. They are tech-savvy and expect a seamless user experience.
As the baby boomer generation ages, many people around the globe will face an impending shortage of workers. One solution is to tap into an untapped talent pool—millennials. There are 75 million 18- to 34-year-olds in the United States—a massive number. Unfortunately, many employers don’t understand why hiring millennial employees is beneficial.
The millennial generation is estimated to comprise one-quarter of the global workforce. These individuals were born between 1980 and 2000, meaning they are currently between 20 and 35 years old. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), millennials represent “an emerging generation with distinct attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs.” Millennials differ from previous generations in several ways.
The first wave of millennials entered the workforce during the recession of 2008–2009, and it led to slow economic growth and unemployment for much of the decade. High youth unemployment levels compounded it during the Great Recession, which lasted from 2007 to 2009, affecting approximately 15% of the American population under 25. While the jobs available to them may not have been plentiful, wages continued to rise steadily throughout the period. Millennials are becoming increasingly important as consumers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials represent half (48%) of the total U.S. population, making them America’s largest consumer group. As a result of this growth, businesses must embrace marketing techniques that appeal to millennials.
Many millennials live paycheck to paycheck, and saving for retirement is difficult because of low savings rates. But younger generations aren’t alone — older Americans are struggling too. According to Fidelity Investments, the median retirement account balance across ages 50-64 dropped from $56,000 to $39,000 between 2013 and 2014.
Their expectations are higher than ever. You need to deliver a polished end-user experience that meets these exacting standards. Technology is changing the way we live; millennials want technology that works seamlessly across devices and the web. They want it all, from mobile apps to websites, voice assistants to chatbots, and wearables to smart speakers. It should be easy to manage their accounts, whether a bank account, a video streaming platform, or a grocery delivery app. It should also be convenient to access information, even while offline.
They are constantly learning and experimenting. If you aren’t providing innovative solutions or improving upon existing ones, they will quickly move away from you. That means keeping up with technological trends at lightning speed. Millennials want to work with companies with similar values, lifestyles, and attitudes. They don’t want to be bombarded by advertisements for fast-food chains and big-box stores. They prefer to support local businesses that offer quality services and products. That doesn’t mean they won’t give in to a quick sale. Instead, they’ll carefully consider each purchase and only buy what they truly need.
Millennials Are the Most Lucrative Market
As marketers, it’s our job to understand what motivates people and provide products/services that align with their desires. While some may believe that millennials are lazy, I see them as hardworking, innovative, intelligent, and determined. However, if your offering isn’t aligned with what they desire, you will have a tough time connecting with them. So, first, know your customer – learn about their unique wants & needs. In addition, determine their motivations and interests. This will lead to more targeted messaging that resonates with your ideal customers.
How to Market to Millennials?
There are many different approaches to reaching this audience, but one thing is sure: they want to feel heard. So don’t just talk to them; engage them by asking questions and listening to what they say.
The secret? It’s not a magic formula but a straightforward process where we listen to our customers’ needs, desires, and challenges. We also conduct extensive research to develop our products and services. Once we’ve established a relationship based on trust, we can deliver solutions that exceed expectations. Millennials are a young demographic whose interests are ever-evolving. That means companies that can adapt quickly will be successful. When planning your marketing strategies, remember that millennials are looking for brands that provide tangible results and a sense of authenticity. Find out what millennials care about and work toward delivering these qualities while staying true to your core values.
Some millennials prefer to spend more money on experiences than things, and others are still learning to save for their future homes. Regardless, millennials want to feel valued and appreciated at work. And since they have much confidence in their ability to succeed, they tend to put themselves first when making decisions. For example, they’re highly educated and possess strong problem-solving skills. In fact, according to a study by Deloitte University Press, they’re better equipped to solve complex problems than the average adult.
The differences between generations
One of the most significant differences between millennials and other generations is the importance of self-determination and independence. Before the advent of the internet, young adults often worked long hours at dead-end jobs. However, in the 21st century, the nature of work has changed immensely. The internet has made it easier than ever before to work from home, telecommute, freelance, set up multiple income streams, and find flexible hours. As a result, fewer and fewer people are working the nine-to-five schedule and increasingly are choosing side hustles over full-time jobs. In short, the expectations for young adults’ employment prospects have drastically changed.
According to Pew Research Center, two-thirds of those in the labor force who are currently employed had no college degree in 2010. By 2020, this number is expected to reach 76%. Meanwhile, college graduates will remain stable at around 75%, indicating an increasing demand for skilled workers.
Here’s what else we think you need to know about this customer segment:
- More than 2 billion people between 18- and 34-years old live worldwide, making them the most prominent consumer cohort ever.
- In fact, this age group represents half of all global population growth. As of 2017, there were approximately 1.8 billion Millennials — 50% of the world’s entire population!
- Of the estimated 2 billion Millennials today, more than half are still in school, meaning they’re earning less than $15,000 per year. That’s why the average college graduate makes more than $35,000 annually.
- This group is growing faster than any other segment and will comprise 25% of the workforce by 2020.
- In addition, this group is responsible for 80% of all U.S. household spending.
- They’re expected to represent more than 50% of the global economy by 2041.
- According to a recent study conducted by Nielsen, Millennials spent $10 trillion in 2018 alone. That means $30 million every minute!
- On average, they plan to spend $1.3 million during their lifetimes.
- When they buy, it’s essential that brands understand their needs and behaviors.
Millennials were once described as “Generation Me,” but that description no longer accurately reflects the reality of this generation’s priorities. Many indeed believe they are too unique to be defined by others. But when asked to name their values – happiness, trustworthiness, loyalty, demanding work, family, freedom, responsibility, and hope – the list is remarkably like the traits commonly associated with older generations.
The negativities surrounding millennials right now. They aren’t buying homes. They’re renting forever. How exactly do we know this? Because realtors keep saying so. They don’t want to buy it because they have nowhere to settle. If you look at the last ten years, housing prices have increased dramatically. I’m sure there were some factors to account for that increase. But if you compare what happened to rental rates compared to homeownership rates. Then you realize a massive drop in homeownership during that time. People just couldn’t afford it. So why would anyone expect that to change anytime soon? Real estate agents say that millennials don’t think about purchasing real estate until they get married and start having children. This is false. There are many studies done that prove otherwise. One survey found that 30% of people 18 – 34 said they planned to purchase a house within three years of getting married. Another survey showed that 25% of people that graduated high school in 2000 bought a home before graduating college. These findings proved that millennials plan to purchase houses before even getting married.
So, they have more responsibilities and less disposable income (aka paychecks). With student loan debt being higher than any previous generation, they may not feel that they deserve to own property. And even if they do earn enough money to save and invest, they might not have the urge to take risks. Owning a home is one of the best investments you can make if you plan to stay put. It provides security for life’s unexpected expenses, but it also provides stability for your retirement.
What went wrong?
We’ve already talked about the rise of the individual above the group, and now let’s talk about the decline of tradition and established authority. When technology allowed us to create our own identities instead of being constrained by traditional ideas of gender, age, profession, etc., we began rejecting traditions that didn’t fit into our new self-constructed identities. At first, this meant that women could enter professions previously dominated by men, while men could find themselves working in traditionally female jobs. As society became more accepting of alternative sexualities, people began to reject old stereotypes about sexuality; gays and lesbians left assumptions of homosexuality as abnormal, and transgender individuals rejected beliefs regarding sex and gender identity.
The millennial generation grew up after the dot com bubble burst, 9/11, and other traumatic events that shook America’s sense of itself. Those who survived childhood under these conditions came of age believing in nothing unless it could be backed up by complex data or personal experience.
Ways Brands Market to Millennials
There are many different strategies brands can employ to reach this audience.
Some of the best include:
• Using influencers to promote products
• Creating content around relevant topics
• Offering discounts
• Providing free samples
• Promoting events/parties
• Giving away merchandise
While millennials may not purchase everything offered on social media, Brands should realize that they still spend money through these channels. According to the UBS Social Media Report, 90% of consumers say they follow companies they like on social media. It means it’s crucial to create customer-friendly accounts for this demographic. Additionally, the report states that 63% of respondents said they feel more inclined to purchase a company’s advertised brand based on posts and comments about the company.
1. Be Social
Millennials prefer social media to other mediums because it allows them to communicate directly with the brands they love. Suppose you want to connect effectively with these customers. In that case, your business should have a presence on all the major social networks, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, Google+, Reddit, and Vine. You should also include messaging apps such as WhatsApp and WeChat.
2. Personalize everything
Customizing your marketing is especially important for millennials. Marketers often try to use generic copy and templates instead of focusing on individual customer needs. However, personalized marketing works best with millennials. They appreciate it when companies take the time to understand their unique interests and preferences, then create offers based on authentic stories. Your audience will be able to relate to your account and trust you more for doing so.
3. Tell Stories
It’s no secret that millennials are obsessed with stories. And they love reading them. So, tell stories! For example, you could share insights into a specific problem that your customers face. Or you could describe a situation where your product helped them somehow. If you want to stand out from the competition, give an example; one of the best ways to sell a product is by telling a story about how a natural person used it. Even though your audience may be familiar with the product itself, they will still associate it with something meaningful. If there’s a problem with a product, explain how it was solved. Explain why certain features were needed.
Most importantly, share the results. Show them how the product made people happier or healthier. If you do this right, your millennial customers will feel like they are part of the process.
4. Measure Conversion Rates
You might assume that millennials aren’t interested in conversion rates, and they’ve never had anything to measure. But that couldn’t be further from the truth! According to research conducted by HubSpot, 87% of millennials say they would pay $10 or less for each 1% improvement in conversion rate, which indicates that they’re willing to spend money to get better results. As a result, it’s critical that you know exactly how many leads are converting and how much money they’re generating for your business. To learn more about measuring conversions, read our guide to conversion tracking.
The tech-savvy generation
Millennials are tech-savvy. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Google Consumer Surveys, 81% of millennials surveyed said that they would rather talk about the weather than politics. The same poll showed that 82% of millennials prefer interacting with brands via text messages. While this shows millennials are comfortable texting, they aren’t necessarily comfortable typing out lengthy rants about political issues. Texting allows you to convey information and engage with your audience quickly.
Millennials shop differently than previous generations because of their unique lifestyles and technology use habits.
1. Technology play
They love tech because it helps them manage their busy lives and stay connected, but they also hate it because it distracts them from what matters.
2. A constant flow of information
According to research by eMarketer, 84 percent of digital content on mobile devices will come from social networks. However, only 22 percent of users say they have read the news on their phones.
3. Expectations for convenience
Millennials grew up expecting online services to be convenient and seamless, so they expect the same from brick-and-mortar establishments.
4. No time like now
The millennial generation is incredibly impatient, especially since their peers may not have jobs yet. Millennials want immediate gratification and expect products to be delivered fast.
5. Quality over quantity
Millennials prefer quality over quantity, even if it costs them more. For example, they’d rather pay more for a delicious meal at a restaurant than eat out multiple times each week.
6. Personalized shopping experience
In the past, shoppers received catalogs with pages and ads with no personal connection to them. Today, however, they demand a better experience, including a personalized message.
7. Online vs. in-store
This generation wants convenience and brands to deliver products directly to their doorsteps through apps and websites. If a brand doesn’t offer these options, they won’t buy from you.
8. Mobile-first mentality
Millennials are constantly switching devices and operating systems, so if your website isn’t optimized for mobile, they’ll leave before they get halfway through your page.
9. Always on
This generation spends an average of eight hours a day checking their smartphones. Anything that happens while waiting for your order to arrive isn’t happening to them.
Millennials want to work hard, but they don’t mind spending time working smart. In fact, according to Gartner Inc., millennials will pay $1 trillion globally in wages between now and 2023 and half that amount on rewards like flexible hours, training programs, and health insurance. That means companies looking to recruit and retain talented workers will need to consider these preferences.
Give An Instant Response
Millennials want to feel like they matter. So, if you can provide them with a quick answer to any question they may have, they’ll appreciate it. And if you can give them a personalized experience, they’ll love it. One way to do both is through chatbots. Chatbots use A.I. (Artificial Intelligence) to provide customers with automated answers to frequent questions within a conversational interface. These responses are natural-sounding and should never sound robotic. Using a chatbot is a beautiful way to create immediate customer satisfaction when done right.
Chatbots can be integrated with Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. To succeed, marketers need to recognize their audience and meet their needs, and doing so will increase engagement and boost conversions.
The best thing about chatbots? You don’t have to hire extra employees just to handle these interactions! With so many users asking questions every day, chatbots have become a low-cost solution for companies who want to ensure their customers receive fast, accurate answers.
Appeal to Their Values
Millennials want to feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves. Show them that by giving back to society through causes they care about. Help them see how your company helps people, animals, or the environment. Focus on making them feel special, not just another number.
Millennials also want to be involved in shaping the future of technology. So, show them that your company is committed to innovation and doing its part to improve the world around them. Make sure you incorporate innovative technologies into your products and services. This will demonstrate your dedication to being at the forefront of modern industry.
As you begin reaching out to this influential demographic, remember that you compete with other brands trying to find success with Millennial consumers. Be sure to research which strategies are working for your peers and competitors, and try incorporating similar tactics into your marketing plan. But don’t worry—if you follow these tips, you’ve got nothing to fear from the Millennial generation.
Create Authentic Content
Millennials want to feel like they belong somewhere, and if they don’t feel valued by a brand, they will look elsewhere. So, it’s crucial to provide them with opportunities to connect with your brand through content that feels genuine and relevant. If you want to build trust with Millennials, you need to put yourself in their shoes and understand what motivates them. Create content that reflects their interests and values and allow them to share it with their friends. In return, they’ll expect quality content from you as well.
Don’t get caught off guard.
In general, millennials are more likely to notice when brands try novel approaches. So, if you approach them with an established strategy, you won’t stand out. Consider starting small before moving forward. Start experimenting with a few different pieces of content, such as videos, infographics, and blogs. Then, gradually expand your efforts until you achieve your desired results.
Be mindful of the messaging when you talk to Millennials; keep one eye open for words and phrases that may send the wrong message. Avoid referring to your company as “we” because it implies that the team members aren’t significant enough to mention. Also, avoid using terms such as “our” or “they” unless you’re describing multiple individuals. Instead, use “I” or “my” to imply ownership.
Market with intention rather than latching on to gimmicky marketing fads Millennials is looking for authenticity and transparency from brands. If they see something that doesn’t feel genuine, it will turn them off. So don’t just follow trends; instead, look at what people want and then try to give it to them.
Make it post-worthy; millennials are often considered “digital natives” because they grew up using digital technologies like smartphones and tablets. But this isn’t true. They are familiar with digital tools, but they still prefer traditional media to promote their businesses, like print ads and billboards.
So, if you create any promotional content, make sure it’s designed to catch people’s eyes in the real world. Have someone test ad copy and layouts on paper. Ask your graphic designer to create images that blend seamlessly with the design aesthetic of your website. And ensure that anything you produce looks excellent in black and white and prints well. These simple steps will help you communicate effectively with Millennials while avoiding common mistakes that might otherwise leave them cold.
Alternatives to Traditional Ads
Millennials are the first generation who grew up with smartphones and tablets, and this means they’ve become accustomed to consuming content through apps and mobile devices. If you want to reach this audience, developing a digital strategy that takes advantage of this fact makes sense.
For example, look at some of these alternative types of advertising.
Social media posts. As mentioned above, Millennials spend much time online, and many of them prefer to consume information via social networks. Use Facebook and Twitter to communicate about topics that matter most to them. You could also consider posting short articles on LinkedIn and Instagram.
Video. YouTube is a popular platform for sharing video content, so why not use it to engage with your audience? Include links to your site and other valuable resources in your videos. Make sure that you have permission from the owner before including copyrighted material. That way, you won’t run into trouble.
Mobile app downloads. Millennials tend to download free apps because they’re easy to access, so you should make yours stand out by offering something unique, like an exclusive coupon code when they sign up for your service.
Email campaigns. Although millennials only represent 13% of email recipients worldwide (Statista), they account for 27% of email opens and 30% of clicks on banner ads within emails. So, set yourself apart by adding a call-to-action button to each piece of correspondence.
Create Memorable Experiences
Millennials don’t want sales pitches. Instead, they want to experience a genuine connection with someone who cares about their happiness and success. So, make sure that every interaction with your brand leaves an impression. Give your prospects something to talk about after meeting with you. Offer an exclusive discount for signing up for your email list. Or invite them to download your app. Whatever you choose, make sure that it creates an unforgettable experience for your customers.
It may seem like a daunting task to figure out what type of person likes your product or service. But once you get started, you’ll begin to discover exciting tidbits. For instance, here are three examples of products that Millennials enjoy:
1. Foodie: Millennials will love your company if you specialize in healthy food. 92% of Millennial women say that organic foods appeal to them more than traditional options.
2. Tech Savvy: If you offer services related to technology, you will attract a substantial portion of millennial men. More than half of millennial men say they would pay extra money for a device that lets them remotely control their home appliances.
3. Beauty Obsessed: If you create beauty products, you can count on Millennial women being your biggest fans. Almost two-thirds of millennial women say they purchase all their cosmetics at department stores.
The goal isn’t just to hit this demographic hard. Rather, it’s to create an emotional connection with people to develop long-term relationships.
FOMO and Frugality
Millennials are known for being frugal and having a love of saving money. If you can tap into this mindset, you could find a loyal following of young customers who want to save money but don’t mind spending it on your products or services.
Frugality isn’t just limited to buying cheap stuff. It extends to everything you do, from choosing a restaurant to ordering takeout food versus eating at home to planning vacations versus visiting attractions. It’s easy to see how you could fit into this mentality, whether by lowering prices or providing new or better options.
You need to remember that even though they’ll appreciate discounts, they may not be willing to pay the total price for their purchases. Millennials have grown up with bargain shopping, and they feel entitled to get a deal. But they don’t want to feel ripped off either. So be prepared to offer some incentives, such as loyalty programs, coupons, or cashback rewards.
The influence of a generation
There’s no doubt that Millennials will continue to grow in popularity in the years ahead. They’ve proven themselves to be an influential group of consumers, and companies should embrace them and try to understand what makes them tick. By doing so, they’ll be able to capitalize on Millennials’ emerging purchasing power and turn them into lifelong brand advocates with a lifetime of spending potential.
What’s more, Millennials are also likely to influence future generations. Their values of equality and diversity bring a whole distinct perspective to families and relationships, and the children they raise will be molded by their example.
Whether you’re trying to gain new customers or retain old ones, understanding this demographic will help you connect with those who matter most—and earn you plenty of repeat sales.
What About Gen X?
Millennials live in an increasingly digital world, even though many were born before the internet was created. As if that weren’t enough to keep them busy, Generation X is quickly becoming the most influential living demographic in the U.S., with some estimates predicting their numbers could swell to eighty million by 2030. Eight times as many millennial marketers are responsible for influencing decisions at businesses compared to GenX marketers.
The term “Generation X” was coined in 1992 by author Douglas Coupland, who defined this group as those born between 1965 and 1980. In his book, he argued that Gen X had been overlooked by society but should play a leading role in shaping the future. While the moniker stuck and became synonymous with the next generation of adults, it’s important to note that there were other generations before Gen X.
- Gen Xers grew up during the cultural revolution known as the Baby Boomer Era.
They’re the oldest cohort of college graduates since World War II. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Gen Xer college graduates currently account for 23% of the total population in the United States.
Many Gen Xers experienced the rise of technology beginning around 14. By 2004, 48% of households owned computers, and 49% owned high-speed Internet access.
Gen Xers are the only generation in history whose members have lived longer lives than previous generations of Americans.
Gen Xers have more disposable income than any other generation thus far
Gen Xers prefer shopping online to buying at retail stores. Since they grew up before e-commerce was commonplace, they’ve become accustomed to buying online.
If you offer tech support, repair jobs, or installation services, Gen Xers will take advantage of these opportunities.
Gen Xers are early adopters of innovative technologies and use them frequently in their professional and personal lives. They’ll be eager to try out new products and services offered by your brand.
Because they’re less trusting of government than previous generations, Gen Xers tend to lean toward self-reliance. As such, they won’t hesitate to seek solutions outside traditional channels.
Generation Xers are passionate about causes that promote equality in education, gender equity, reproductive rights, environmental sustainability, racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, and animal welfare.
Gen Xers are considered the most diverse group of Americans due to their increased participation in historically marginalized groups throughout life.
At least four generations of women have earned degrees from top universities such as Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.
According to the Pew Research Center data, the most popular careers among the youngest group of American workers include computer programmer/analyst, architect, accountant, engineer, nurse, teacher, and physician assistant.
Despite being older than Millennials, Gen Xers have not yet entered retirement, making them one of the last active generations.
Gen Xers had higher rates of unemployment than previous generations. This could potentially lead to an increase in entrepreneurship among this generation.
Since many Gen Xers were raised during the recession of the late 2000s, they may experience lower levels of trust in banks and financial institutions.
Because they’ve seen significant technological advancement, Gen Xers are open-minded about accepting change in the workplace.
Like Millennials, Gen Xers are highly engaged consumers who expect companies to deliver relevant content through mobile devices.
Gen Xers are more likely to buy local products and services than previous generations.
Due to their desire for diversity in the workforce, some organizations have found that hiring employees with non-standard backgrounds yields better results.
Authenticity and Diversity
With the rise of social media, marketers have had to adapt their strategies to target a new generation of consumers. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. population, and they are the most diverse. They are also the most likely to seek out authentic brands and reflect their values. Diversity is one of the core values of millennials, and they want to see it reflected in the brands they support. To appeal to this generation, marketers need to create inclusive campaigns and show a range of perspectives. They also need to be authentic, transparent, and responsive to the needs of their customers.
Millennials want to feel like they belong and don’t want to be sold to. So, if you’re going to connect with this group, make sure your brand is authentic and diverse. This will give people a sense of belonging and reduce feelings of isolation. A study by the University of California found that brands perceived as authentic were seen as more trustworthy than those that weren’t.
An Opportunity for Change
Millennials want to feel like they’re making a difference in the world. Help them see how your products or services can help them achieve this goal by providing solutions to problems they care about.
Transparent and Accessible
Millennials want transparency from brands they trust. If you don’t provide it, they’ll find someone else who will. Make sure your brand is easy to access online, whether through social media, email, or websites.
Millennials are the largest demographic group in the world right now. If you want to connect with this audience, it’s essential to understand who they are and what makes them tick. Start by reading our guide to reaching millennials online. Then, start building a strategy that takes advantage of all the fantastic new tools available to marketers today.
We live where technology has taken over many aspects of our lives — we get through all our communication via text message, email, and now even messenger chat apps (I’m a Slack fan). To succeed in business nowadays, you need to know and utilize various modes of technology to make yourself appealing to potential clients.