Sophia Laughlin

by Sophia Laughlin | Digital Strategy

“Target” is a key word in marketing. Perhaps our most important word. Who are you speaking to? There are a variety of ways to think of targeting in marketing: behavioral, psychographic, demographic, geographic. And while all of these are important, it’s also crucial to understand how to talk to people from different generations. In this Marketing to Generations series, I’ll be covering digital marketing to Gen Z (1995-2010), Millennials (1980-1994), Gen X (1960-1979), and Baby Boomers (1940-1959) so you can know if you’re reaching these groups in the right place and with the right message.

We have already covered marketing to Gen Z, so we are moving onto our next generation: Millennials.

There has been a lot of talk about Millennials in recent years, mainly because this group now is the largest generation, having replaced the Baby Boomers in size. They’ve also taken on a reputation for being digitally savvy, health-conscious, and debt-laden.

But is that really true? Boiling Millennials down to a few adjectives is easy to do, but doesn’t really represent the full picture.

The Millennial Mindset

Millennials were the generation to grow up alongside the digital transformation (a notable variant from Gen Z, as this digital world already existed for them). To sum it up nicely: Facebook was created by a Millennial. During Millennials’ childhoods and early adulthoods, they saw cell phones, Google, Amazon, and Apple make their rise. And thus, this generation is very tech savvy.

Millennials have more education than older generations, yet they also struggle with rising costs of education and housing, leaving many of them ridden with debt. Thus, getting started on the next stage of life is taking longer. Millennials are waiting to get married, buy a house, and have kids until later in life.

And though some might take this as a less than positive trait, many millennials are self-oriented. They’re idealistic and value their own individual freedom. They’re health-conscientious, which explains the more recent surge in vegetarianism, veganism, pescetarianism, and avocado toast. And, very importantly, experiences often have more value to Millennials than material goods.

Millennial Consumption

A study by McKinsey & Company found that Millennials tend to fall into several distinct consumption behavior clusters:

  1. The value consumers (40% of Millennials): These are the economizers and the risk avoiders. You aren’t going to see these consumers going crazy with their purchasing. In fact, they are looking to save as much money as possible, are fairly brand agnostic, and rely heavily on recommendations from the people they know.
  2. The quality consumers (22% of Millennials): These are the loyalists and the well-informed. These consumers tend to have high brand loyalty, and thus see the brand as an extension of themselves. They are willing to pay more for products if it guarantees quality, which also means that you’ll see a lot of health and wellness consumers in this category.
  3. The image consumers (38% of Millennials): These are the explorers, the trend followers, and those willing to spend more because…well, YOLO. They are the early adopters and the individuals who want “that product” because everyone else has it too. They’re less concerned about money, more concerned about what they’ll look like once they have it.

It is important to note that despite the fact that Millennials often express concern over their financial future, they are willing to spend more on premium/quality products that will last them longer and have a bigger benefit for their health.

Marketing to Millennials

Great! So we know who Millennials are (including what consumer categories they tend to fall into), how do we reach them?

Platforms to Reach Millennials
  • Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat – Facebook is one of the apps of choice, but Snapchat and Instagram are also popular, albeit Snapchat is less popular for older Millennials.
  • YouTube – >90% of Millennials use YouTube, and as Millennials tend to make a lot of their purchasing decisions on both their phone and desktop, good coverage in both of these areas is crucial.
  • Search – Millennials are masters of online shopping. Having coverage on both brand and non-brand is critical for capturing these users, as well as having a marketplace presence on Amazon.
  • Pinterest Nearly 80% of Millennial women and 40% of Millennial men are on Pinterest. Given those numbers, if you are an eComm retailer for women’s clothing and you’re not on Pinterest…maybe check it out.
  • LinkedIn – As the largest generation, this means that Millennials make up the largest portion of the workforce. They’re also at the point where they are starting their own businesses and rising into decision-maker roles, which makes LinkedIn vital for B2B advertising efforts.
Age gaps across different social media platforms
Messaging That Speaks to Millennials

So we now know where we can find Millennials. The next step is figuring out the best way to speak to them. Make sure you know who your target audience is out of the three types of consumers highlighted–it will help when crafting your messaging.

  • Highlight your deals and use promotions to encourage repeat purchases
  • Call out the quality and durability of your product
  • Highlight the unique experience your product will provide (make it both trendy and trend-setting)
  • Make sure to note how your company/product is sustainable
  • Free shipping? Two-day shipping? Make sure to call this out, since Millennials love the convenience and have come to expect it

Of course, all this is just a starting point. Narrowing all members of a generation down to a few bullet points is a way to sum up the main ideas, but these vary even more within the different industries and unique audiences your brand is seeking to bring in. For more help crafting a digital marketing solution to reach and convert your Millennial audience, talk to our team!