The way to start marketing to us is to stop

 Think you know Millennials? Think again. Everyone thinks they have  their fingers on the pulse of who Millennials are, but very few people have  an actual working knowledge of this dynamic generation, our drivers and  our distinguishing characteristics. While analysts and prognosticators  seem to grant that the millennial consumer is driving the next wave of  consumer products and innovation, they have almost no idea how to  relate to us in a meaningful way.

While pigeonholing surely happened to Baby Boomers and Gen X before  us, this maddening habit of lumping an age group together and  attributing overriding characteristics and behaviors to the entire cohort  means that marketers miss some really important distinctions that  inform how they interact with us, and how we do or don’t interact with them.

In days past, marketers could simply study an audience and drive their idea of relevant messages toward that group by highlighting a few common characteristics. But today, consumers talk back. They expect conversation. The millennial generation perfected that model. We can Google you and your brand and find out all about you. In fact, we may already know you better than you know us. That information we find, we use to embrace and endorse you or push your brand aside for one we like better.

Want to have a relationship with us? To use the social media adage, “It’s complicated.” But just because it’s complicated, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. After all, we outnumber Gen X two to one. With 80 million of us, we make up 30 percent of the U.S. population, following closely behind Baby Boomers in terms of sheer volume and influence. We are the innovators and tastemakers who are influencing culture in ways previous generations only dreamed of. But how do you connect with us?


As Millennials, we have been raised to believe we can be or do anything,  and technology empowers us to do more and be more. We see everything,  and can see through anything. The way to start marketing to us is to  stop. Traditional marketing doesn’t work on us. You’ll have to develop a  new model if you want to reach us.

In our digitally connected lives, we often see marketing as something to  mute or fast-forward through; an unwelcome intrusion into our lives,  interrupting us from what we were doing – work or play. That we see  marketing this way doesn’t mean that it’s on the way out, though. It  means you have a great opportunity to meet us on our terms, on our turf,  if you do it right.

Because technology is such a part of everyday life, marketers might think to send their messages to us where we are, mobile and online, but not so fast! This technology we’re using is personal. It’s an extension of who we are, and we don’t want unfiltered brand messages bombarding us on our personal devices, in our personal spaces. If you want to connect with us, we must invite you in.

In the end, it comes down to value. Millennials are smart; we will pay more, do more, become loyalists and advocates as long as you provide what we consider added value. Authenticity allows you to engage with us, immediacy provides compelling content and social relevancy keeps you competitive.

Marketing to Millennials is about advocacy, not advertising. Conversation, not clichés. And it’s the consumers, specifically these Millennial consumers, who are shaping your brand and defining its success. Even in this new of responsive, personal technology, the famed purchase funnel – Awareness to Consideration to Purchase to Loyalty – still holds true; it’s just the journey that has changed.

  • Awareness is no longer print advertisements, radio or TV commercials, or billboards to influence us, but strategic product placement and integration and word of mouth buzz and recommendations.
  • Consideration isn’t endorsement from celebrities, but from our friends and online communities populated with consumers who have actually used your product.
  • Purchase isn’t spontaneous and random but researched and informed.
  • Loyalty, the golden ticket, only comes from genuine demonstration of intrinsic value, aspirational association, and ongoing rewards.

How do you know when you’ve won that?

It’s easy: we’d recommend you to a friend.

Interested in digging deeper into this dynamic generation? Check out Adrenaline’s full white paper, “Why the Y: Millennials and the Generation of Innovation.”