Marketing to the Millennials of the Millennium

The 8.3 million Millennials in the US will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. They spend more than $200 billion annually. The Millennial market is massive, confusing, powerful, and a generation marketers MUST understand.

Who are Millennials?

Millennials are the generation immediately following Gen X - born in the 1980s and 1990s. The youngest of the generation are now “legally” adults - how’s that for a shock? Because Millennials have grown up in the “Internet era”, they are taking over the market with their technologically savvy minds.

Tom Fishburne created this comic about marketing to Millennials.

What do Millennials Care about?

According to the Brookings Institute, the following values shape Millennial’s beliefs and actions:

Need to achieve a higher purpose than themselves.

Millennials seek meaning in their lives and choose to support brands or companies that share the same concern and responsibility for the world . Brand names do not matter. Gen Y’s brand loyalty lies in companies that offer solutions to ethical, social, and environmental issues. According to Forbes, a Cone Communications study showed that “9 out of 10 Millennials switch brands to support a particular cause and 87% purchase a product with a social or environmental benefit.”

This also reflects how millennials choose their careers. They seek out jobs where every task contributes to a bigger goal and purpose.


The value of a memorable moment outweighs buying or owning material objects. This is why 79% of Millennials want to travel the U.S and 75% want to travel the world. They are in it for the memories and side with brands that give them a good experience. A report from The Intelligence Group further proves this point by stating that 35% of people would rather have access to items or places like AirBnB instead of claiming ownership.

Marketing is now about what type of experience can be offered to the consumer rather than the product itself.

Community and teamwork

Opposite to the Baby Boomers and Gen X who grew up focusing on the individual rather than the group, Gen Y had teachers and coaches who encouraged a team oriented dynamic.

Access to technology and better transportation allowed Millennials to connect better than ever before. This influenced them to form their tribes based on similar interests as opposed to proximity.

How can marketers reach Millennials?

Know the “Why” Behind the Business

Since Millennials are all about meaning and purpose, know yours! Consumers want brands who understand themselves and have clearly defined objectives and values. Simon Sinek has a motivating TED talk about communicating the story of a brand from the inside out - describe why the organization exists, then how, then what.


Be Purely Authentic

Millennials appreciate transparency. In fact, 43% of Millennials only read content behind brands they trust. Post pictures or videos of the company’s culture on social media to showcase a “behind the scenes” look. Add a human element to the brand by having a conversational brand voice/style and telling relatable and relevant stories through content.

Getting Millennial input via focus groups and surveys help influence the strategy’s direction. Listen empathetically to understand Millennials in order to bring them exactly what they want.   


The need to build teams and help the world inspires Millennials to have a hand in product creation. 42% of Millennials said helping companies develop and create future products and services interests them. Involving Millennials guarantees buyers, locks down a target market, and, since the brand is fueling self expression, builds a consumer-brand relationship.

Doritos Crash the Superbowl was a campaign where Doritos engaged fans in their product and advertising by encouraging them to make their own Doritos commercial. Above is one of the submissions.  

Optimize Digital Advertising

Millennial’s relax by multi-tasking - so it is best to reach them through multiple social platforms. Since Millennials spend up to 25 hours per week online, it is important to provide them with organically made content that benefits or educates them. Give them a reason to spread, share, or forward the content. Inbound marketing such as e-books, whitepapers, videos, or blog posts are preferred and trusted among the millennial generation. Thought leaders on blogs or videos are trusted and viewed 60% of the time compared to traditional advertising.  

Monitor Reviews

Access to technology throughout their lives mean Millennials have grown up with access to product reviews before committing to a purchase. According to HubSpot, 73% of Millennials think reading a product’s review before purchase is important. Millennials trust influencers on Snapchat and Instagram - where they retain most of their information and news.

Utilizing user-generated content is a method to strengthen the brand-consumer relationship and leads to an 84% influence on Millennial purchases. Just think about how Yelp, Amazon or Rotten Tomatoes reviews influence purchases and activity planning. 

Personalize, Personalize, Personalize!

There are too many Millennials in the U.S. to oversimplify and use the same targeting and messaging. Research and define the audience’s different types of personas to gain an understanding of their beliefs and motivators. Figure out how the product/service might fit into their experience and how the brand represents their passions. Reach Millennials through creative, individualized content that resonates with them. Interact and engage with Millennials because meaningful connections transform generic ads into experiences.