Millennials: Marketing to Gen Y

Who are Millennials? And how can we market towards them?

Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the demographic following Generation X. The date range as to what qualifies a person as a “Millennial” is rather vague – but most say it is anyone born between the 1980s and the mid-1990s

So, what makes Millennials tick?


Millennials value transparency and the opinions of others. The old days of marketing by pushing products at consumers is no longer working. Now, marketing efforts must focus on pulling customers to them, letting the customer have the control.

A great way to do this is through User Generated content and influence marketing.

User generated content: This is content that is created by your customers – usually displayed through social media using a hashtag or tagging system.  Although user generated content can be extremely effective, there are huge risks! (Check out my previous blog post to see how McDonald’s learned a very hard user generated content lesson!)

Here’s a stat for you: 86% of Millennials believe that user generated content is a solid indication of your brand’s quality level, meaning that if others are posting about your brand, it must be pretty good – right?

Influence marketing: Having your content promoted or used by a large influencer (someone with a huge following) or even a micro-influencer (an account or person with a relatively small but active, following). As stated above, Millennials don’t like when brands push products at them – but when an influencer promotes a product or service, there is an element of trust created.

Ready for another stat? Good.

60% of Millennials have said that they would try a product suggested by a YouTuber (or influencers). There is a high level of trust required in Millennials purchasing decisions. Interestingly, this trust does not need to be built through personal friendships – but through influencers (ultimately strangers).

2. Lifestyle

It’s all about the lifestyle. If it will make a cool post on social – or even just a good story to tell your friends – Millennials are all over it.  Nearly 80% of Millennials would purchase an experience over a product – which is a major shift from the past. When targeting Millennials, it is important to remember this, even if you are marketing a product – the way you advertise must convey that there is a whole lifestyle associated with your brand… and they don’t want to miss out!

3. Authenticity

This goes hand-in-hand with trust. Millennials are all too aware of the magic of filters, cropping, and editing content. For this reason, they love to see brands share intimate moments that would typically be private. Sharing content that is very difficult to edit and fake seems to be a big hit with this demographic.  One of the best ways to do this is:

Live streaming: Sharing video footage shot and streamed in real-time. Going live is a great way to engage with your audience, and takes away the element of perfection that brands typically display. Although going live is awesome, there are lots of tips and tricks you should know before hitting the record button. To learn more about going live – check out this blog post!

4. Ethical

Millennials are one of the most ethically motivated purchasers around. Products that are in someway contributing to the greater good are very appealing to this demographic. Millennials are very willing to pay more for a product or service if it is supporting an ethical cause. Brands that have seen this trend and thrived on it include: S’well, TenTree, and Toms.

5. Mobile obsessed

Aren’t we all? Either way, Millennials are a generation that stays very, very close to their cellphones at all times.

In fact, according to Google: “Eighty-seven percent always have their smartphone at their side, day and night. In many countries, including the U.S., more searches take place on mobile devices than on computers.”

With this in mind, make sure you are placing your ads and content where your audience is – mobile. Optimize your sites and posts to be viewed on a smartphone, because honestly, they will probably never see your content on a Desktop.

Channel of choice: Instagram – more than half of its users fall into the Millennial category (which is higher than any other category), so if you want to get the attention of Millennials – you need to show up where they play.

Millennials can get a bad wrap, and targeting them can feel like an ever-changing game of Cat and Mouse. Hopefully this article gives you some insight into this tricky demographic – but if it doesn’t, reach out to us and let us design a strategy to target your ideal market!


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