In marketing, we often hear people grouped into demographic categories, one of the most common being generations. 

"Millennials" are one of the most commonly talked about demographics. Who are they and what are their characteristics when we think about marketing to them?

Millennials

  • Other names: Generation-Y, Echo Boomers
  • Born roughly between 1980 and 1994
  • Many are the children of Baby Boomers (born around 1946-1964)
  • Largest generation in the US, numbering around 80 million
  • Last generation to remember a pre-Internet world as they came of age during the digital shift
  • The most highly educated and culturally diverse generation ever
  • Many enter the workforce having high debt from education costs, especially in the US

Generalized Characteristics

  • Considered to be confident and tolerant, but also entitled and narcissistic 
  • Prefer a flat corporate culture, immediate feedback, good work-life balance
  • Favor familial over corporate values, quick to change jobs if company values don't align with theirs
  • Many do volunteer work and donate to causes that they believe in
  • Care highly about politics and are socially liberal as a whole, with many in favor of same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization while against issues such as animal testing
  • At the forefront of political correctness
  • Care about a company's politics and behaviors, both as an employee and consumer
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Marketing to Millennials

This is a generation that most businesses cannot ignore due to its size, current age, influence and buying power. Because of their native online abilities and social media being at the center of their communications, this area must be the central marketing focus in trying to reach them.

In the social space specifically, Millennials are heavy Facebook and Instagram users, and younger millennials are big on Snapchat as well. While 41% of Millennials use Facebook every day, many attempt to limit their use of the network due to having negative experiences there, opting to spend more time on the other networks.

One challenge that companies face when marketing to Millennials is that the demographic actively avoids online ads - in fact, ad blockers are quickly rising in usage and 70% don't watch YouTube ads.

Millennials, being early adopters, are also forecasted to be the leading demographic in the adoption of digital voice assistants like Amazon Echo and Google Home. This adds another marketing channel for companies to plan and strategize for.

Voice assistants are predicted to be a part of a big portion of Millennials' lives soon, according to eMarketer

Voice assistants are predicted to be a part of a big portion of Millennials' lives soon, according to eMarketer

Another challenge that companies face when marketing to this group is that they demand transparency, including in politics, and are willing to take their business to another competitor. Companies like Under Armour and Uber have seen the consequences when this age group finds out about a company's not-so-agreeable beliefs and actions, with customer-created campaigns like #BoycottUnderArmour and #DeleteUber going viral.

The good news is that Millennials do respond positively to certain types of ads. While they despise banners and pop-ups, 80% say in-feed Native Ads are a good experience and a little over half like quality Sponsored Content. 

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The takeaway?

Providing Millennials interesting and useful content on social in a manner that doesn't disrupt their experience is the way to go when trying to reach them. Branding your company as one that's able to provide them value while showing that it cares about more than just a sale is the way to go.

Honesty, authenticity and transparency are key, as Millennials tend to prefer a small town, local business approach that gets amplified online. 56% say that they'd be loyal to a brand for life if they were honest and fully transparent, and 62% are more loyal to brands who communicate with them on social. 


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