Marketing to Millennials: Proceed with Caution

As a product of the Millennial era, I directly see a vast difference that exists between generations in how we function in the transforming digital world. The difference in values and perceptions between generations is particularly pertinent in the world of digital marketing. The distinct way Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers absorb the dynamic landscape of the world as technology penetrates our daily lives more and more everyday is one for marketers to take note of.

Millennials grew up in a significantly different world than previous generational cohorts. Gen X was born in a world that was much less consumed by technology, while Millennials were born into an emerging digital world. As older generations attempt to teach themselves how to use technology, this sort of ability comes naturally to Millennials and Gen Z. Younger generations essentially grew up right alongside the birth of a digitized world.

Why place such pressure on crafting distinct marketing strategies targeted toward specific markets, particularly Millennials? Marketing segmentation is one of the key factors in successful marketing. Brands can’t simply expect the same results from marketing their product to someone in their 50’s versus someone in their 20’s.

Millennials undoubtedly hold a lot of purchasing power and companies are well aware of it. But with so many competitors, how do brands cut through the noise and get themselves to stand out from the crowd to successfully reach this market?

It takes more than just a great product and customer service to successfully market to Millennials, much less build brand loyalty. It’s utilizing all of the technological and social resources that exist to create an enjoyable experience across the customer journey and beyond.

Take Note!

Millennials aren’t enticed by traditional advertising. In fact, they’ve simply become unaffected and numb to them. The hardcore in-your-face marketing tactics aren’t effective but rather drive them away. They’ve grown up in a culture of sharing and interacting with each other through technology. This is essential for marketers and brands across all industries to remember.

Here are some parameters brands need to consider to successfully market to Millennials:

Authenticity is key

It’s true. Marketing today is more about good products – it’s about the story behind them. Millennials are drawn to brands that have a personality and sense of culture.

Millennials are innovative and crave a strong sense of self-fulfillment. They place a heavy focus on making a name for themselves and individuality, and expect nothing less from brands they support. The more they can connect to your brand, the more likely they are to purchase from you.

They hate pushy advertising. It takes much more than hardcore salesy advertising to win the loyalty of a Millennial. Being transparent and authentic builds credibility and trust within a brand – the building blocks of brand loyalty.

Millennials don’t want to support dishonest and deceptive companies. They want to know that your brand is real. They want to know that there are real people behind all the promotions and advertising – people who genuinely care about what they think. Companies should consider native advertising and unobtrusive tactics when marketing their brands.

Experiences are what they live for

The “YOLO” movement has become a lifestyle for this generation. Millennials seek adventure and are willing to go out on whims to create unforgettable experiences. This is important for brands to take note of. According to Eventbrite, 78% of Millennials would rather spend money on an experience or event than buying physical things.

They crave making memories and capturing experiences. They record and take pictures of everything… Literally. From a trip to the grocery store to a weekend vacation, they like to take snapshots of in-the-moment occasions not only to share them, but to save them for memories.

Experiential marketing campaigns like Coke’s “Share a Coke” proves the impact experiences have on driving consumers to support a company. Set your brand apart from the rest by offering an unforgettable experience and allowing your customers to establish a deeper connection.

Social media the right way

Social media is undoubtedly the most compelling way to reach Millennials. According to Nielsen’s 2016 Social Media Report, Millennials spend a little over 6 hours per week on social media.

This is important for marketers to note. The various platforms and channels used are crucial and the way brands position themselves calls for strategic planning. Remember, content is king and whether you place it on your blog or social, it needs to be valuable.

Stay up to date with relevant trends on social and interact with your followers. Millennials appreciate being heard and are grateful when brands notice them. Create engaging content and be open to hearing feedback – good and bad.

Millennials resort to social media for many reasons, as illustrated in the graph below:

digital strategy agency, marketing to millennials
Source: American Press Institute


It is crucial to optimize for mobile in today’s mobile-first world, especially when trying to rank with Google’s mobile-first index. According to Annalect, 55% of Millennials who own a smartphone expect brands to have a mobile-opt website or app.

Millennials expect the same content and value across all devices. They resort to the convenience of their smartphones more than any other. If your brand isn’t mobile-ready, you have already lost a significant portion of your Millennial market.

They listen to strangers

Millennials often refer to their friends and family for their opinions on brands. And they trust strangers just as much. It takes more than an intriguing ad to persuade them to make a purchase. They go online and look up reviews. They’d rather go on YouTube and seek out reviews and personal experiences than go off of an ad. This is what drives the popularity and impact of influencers.

Influencer marketing is on the rise and is an effective way of widening your audience and reach. However, the brand and influencer marketing strategy needs to be crafted very carefully. If it’s blatantly obvious and too in-your-face, they’ll be turned off. Remember, Millennials value authenticity and aren’t impressed with direct advertising.


Marketers face the challenge of keeping up with Millennials. That’s why an experienced digital marketing agency is so valuable when creating an effective digital strategy.

They are at a financial turning point in their lives and hold significant consumer purchasing power in the market. They love conveniency – the ability to stream their favorite TV shows whenever they want, and to purchase an item through their mobile devices wherever they want. Brands need to craft their marketing strategy through an omni-channel perspective to effectively appeal to this demographic.

It’s important companies align their marketing strategy to the digitization of everything around us but also to not lose focus on core values. While keeping up with technology is essential, authentic content from a brand is the most valuable asset a brand can have.