Millennials are the most important consumer generation. They are the largest generation and have more combined purchasing power than any other generation. However, they are fundamentally different than previous generations, which is a challenge for brands that are trying to market to them. These digital natives grew up with technology, have fully embraced social media and are living in the age of connectivity. One of the most significant challenges that marketers face is the fact that millennials don’t trust brands’ advertising.

So how exactly are marketers supposed to reach millennials?


3 words: Stop, Collaborate and Listen.

Stop using traditional marketing methods. They don’t work. 6% of millennials consider online advertising to be credible, according to a recent SocialChorus Millennials as Brand Advocates Survey. This generation is so ad-adverse that they tune out most traditional advertising. They mute their TVs (or computers) during commercials, glaze over Sponsored Stories on Facebook, and don’t notice the banner ads on the perimeter of their screens (that is, if they haven’t already installed an app to block ads on their browser all together). One millennial that we talked with stated that he hardly notices ads on Facebook because he has “gotten so good at ignoring ads in the feed”. Between not trusting ads and completely turning them out, it’s clear that advertising does not sit well with millennials. Brands need to ditch “traditional marketing” and find creative new ways to reach this generation.

Collaborate with millennials. Instead of marketing to millennials, brands need to market with them and bring millennials into the process. Collaborating with millennials is one of the best ways to connect with them. Their friends are their most trusted source for product information. (No surprise there!) What is significant, however, is that 80% of millennials have purchased a product in the last year after an online interaction. One of the best ways to reach millennials is through other millennials.

Brands need to focus on building relationships with millennials and inspire them to share their own experiences and stories about the brand. By powering millennials to organically spread brands’ messages, brands have the opportunity to create a lifelong customer as well as reach lots of new customers. Millennials will engage with brands for the opportunity to establish a personal connection with the brand. In fact, nearly 50% of millennials said they would advocate for a brand they love. The take away here? Show millennials you care about them and they’ll care about you.

Listen for trends. When you know your customer, your marketing is better. Brands need to mine millennial data to improve marketing efforts. Leverage technologies and tools to learn more about your customers. Listen for trends and stay in the know of what’s cool. It’s important to stay clued into the latest apps and social networks that millennials are using, popular slang terms and pop culture references, and most importantly what is important to them. By doing so, you can personalize your marketing and better connect with these younger consumers.

Marketing to millennials is not easy, but by taking the time to stop, collaborate and listen, brands can better understand and connect with this important generation. And with that, I’ll leave you with this:

Read more: Engaging Millennial Consumers: The Danger of “Conventional Wisdom”