Marketing with (vs. to) Millennials

millennials, internet marketing strategy

Marketing with (vs. to) Millennials

Can you afford to lose out on 80 million prospects? Millennials—also known as Generation Y––are typically defined as the generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s

Millennials—also known as Generation Y – are typically defined as the generation born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. As the economy bounces back and the job market improves, Millennials acquire greater buying power and influence over commerce and marketers. It is time to adjust your marketing plan to meet their needs.


Economic Impact

According to a 2015 Standard & Poor’s report, Millennials will make up half of the work force in the U.S. by 2020 and could account for 30% of total retail sales (or $1.4 trillion a year).

While Millennials’ overall higher level of education promises an almost sure ticket to success and prosperity, this generation’s massive student loan debt could keep it from spending.

Generation Y shares similarities with the Silent Generation (people born from the mid 1920s to the mid 1940s). Both generations experienced financial insecurity during their early-adult years, which led to financial conservatism in spending.

The Millennials’ job market however, better resembles that of the G.I. Generation, born from 1901-1924 (entered the workforce during the Great Depression). The burden of student debt can drive Millennials entering the workforce to settle for jobs they don’t want or jobs that do not pay well. Nevertheless, mounting evidence–by Standard & Poor’s and other studies–clearly shows that a college degree continues to be the single most decisive factor positively affecting a person’s lifetime earning potential.

As Millennials are the largest generation by number (79 million people in North America), and possess enormous purchasing power ($170 billion per year). Developing a Millennials-centered marketing strategy is a must.

How Millennials are different:

  • Millennials are the first generation to have had access to the Internet during their formative years. Their lives were shaped by technology.
  • Millennials have a strong sense of community, both local and global, and are often involved in various causes.
  • According to a 2014 report by the Pew Research Center Millennials are “detached from institutions and networked with friends”.
  • Millennials are the most culturally diverse and educated generation.
  • They look for flexibility in the workplace and strive for a strong work/life balance.
  • Millennials tend to marry and form families later in life.
  • They stay at home and with their parents longer.
  • Within their generation, women make up a majority of many professions.
  • Millennials are less affiliated with formal religious denominations.
  • Rent instead of buy a home
  • Prefer to live in cities and not own cars
    It is clear that Millennials are already transforming commerce and marketing patterns of the brands they deal with. Their values and approach to communication are different from other generations, so strategies to market to Millennials should be modified accordingly.



    1. Be transparent: inform about the company’s news/plans.
    2. Give them positive personal experience and encourage them to “share” it and to spark social media conversations – when they engage they remain loyal!
    3. Most Millennials make purchase decisions based on a friend’s recommendation. Create a Referral Marketing program and harness their tendency to share everything with friends in real time. Let them become your brand’s advocates.
    4. Do Good and talk about it: share your company’s social involvement efforts and encourage your employees to get engaged in volunteer work. Millennials will reward this behaviour.
    5. Millennials have a short attention span and they multitask, so opt for short, engaging content (e.g. videos).
    6. Be authentic! Regardless of the media you use to approach them, maintain an authentic voice.
    7. Be honest: address complaints honestly and openly. It allows for more efficient damage control and will gain your audience’s trust.
    8. Humanize your business and make it simple for them to relate to.
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