Marketing to Millennials: Truths & Realities

There are a lot of preconceived notions about millennials. But a little digging soon makes it apparent that they aren’t the homogenous group marketers are sometimes inclined to lump them into.

A few truths generally apply to millennials as a whole. They desire authenticity, expressiveness, experiences, connectedness and the adoption of technology. Their social worlds straddle online and offline. They’ve been shaped by technology in ways previous generations haven’t.

However, there is a split within this generation: Younger millennials are focused on what they purchase and consume themselves, but older millennials focus on what they purchase for their children and what their children consume. This means there’s a big difference in needs, desires and habits within a single group.

So where do these two groups meet? Strangely enough, in their shopping habits. Millennials have grown up with Walmart and don’t have the preconceived notions older generations do. Big-box retailers like Walmart and Target can offer an appealing product assortment as well as the online/mobile infrastructure millennials enjoy. And here’s a twist: It used to be commonly held that millennials preferred showrooming (checking out products in stores and purchasing online). But a recent study suggests that more millennials practice reverse showrooming (shopping online and buying in retail stores).

While millennials seek experiences and adventure, they also find rewarding self-expression in digging up deals — and they like to share information and points of view about products and services on their social networks. Younger millennials tend to be experience-focused, but older millennials who are starting families are rethinking their priorities. They tend to be more convenience-focused since they’re more strapped for time and money.

A few lessons can be taken from these observations.

  • Millennials like to feel like they’re being heard. Creating opportunities for experiential involvement with your brand will appeal to them.
  • Give them shareable content, such as deals they can pass along to friends. They’ll feel good about your brand, about saving money and about helping a friend out.
  • You can build brand loyalty by offering them the opportunity to review your products where others can listen and weigh in. 
  • Even better, offer them a platform where they can show others how they’re using your product or service. They might surprise you!