Marketing to Millennials. Why Gen Y Matters to You


The very word “Millennials” aka Gen Y prompts head scratching. There’s no hard and fast rule on these age labels but most agree that this term represents those born from the early 1980’s to the very early 2000’s – the 18-34 year old. According to the Pew Research, Millennials are projected to number 75.3 million, surpassing their 74.9 million Boomer parents and grandparents, ages 51 to 69.  We also know is that they are different from the Boomer generation in more than just age. The Gen Y world is digital and interactive, less personal and yet very personal. They seem to be tied to their smart phones and hardly tethered at all to traditions or traditional marketing. This market is far too large to ignore, plus they have an estimated $1.3 trillion worth of annual spending power! If you’re not one of them yourself, you better figure out how to market to them and drive them to your door.
Fortunately, a lot of attention is being paid to this consumer phenomenon. According to US Census data, the consensus is the message and the medium matter. “Mills” have grown up in the Digital Age with immediate information literally at their fingertips and multi-tasking as a matter of course. If you haven’t paid much attention to your online presence, you’re missing the mark. Entrepreneur Magazine contributor Sujan Patel offers this advice:

1. Make sure your web-based marketing is mobile device compatible, i.e. smart phones.
Patel says, “Marketing through mobile devices is important in general, but given that 85% of millennials in the U.S. own smartphones…. Are your landing pages optimized for mobile? Are they too graphics-intensive, making load times longer with slower connections? Is your call to action clear, even on a smaller screen?”

2. Millennials value social identities and like-minded communities than to traditional life stages.
“Millennials are the most non-traditional, non-lineal generation so far, and they don’t value traditional life-stage advertising the way previous generations did [i.e. they are starting families later, not desiring or economically able to buy a house at 30, etc.] They view life differently. Millennials are much more likely to have a strong attachment to social identities…”, be it a lifestyle or social causes like the environment. Tying your brand to social causes they value or situations impacting them is more likely to resonate with them. Examples: the socially conscious B Corps like Ben & Jerry’s or Apple’s leading edge technology that has literally transformed the way we communicate.

3. Make your material relevant and engaging.
Patel concludes,” While this strategy obviously applies to all generations, it’s required for Millennials, have never known a world without the Internet and social media. Don’t expect [them] to simply accept your message on face value and act on it. Instead, Millennials [engage in] online research and [through] social media.  Roughly 95% say that friends are the most credible source of product information. This means that if you can engage a customer base within this generation and create ‘brand evangelists’, you’ll see far better results than through any other form of traditional online marketing. The best way to get your message heard among Millennials is to have Millennials themselves spreading the word.”