Top advice on marketing to millennials

What Every Marketer Needs to Know About Millennials

Effective marketing knowledge & strategies for reaching the millennial generation: 

Move over baby boomers and Gen Xers. The millennials are taking the marketplace by storm. Now in their early twenties to mid-thirties, they have finished college and are looking to make their mark in the world. With more than two billion millennials worldwide, the group accounts for 27 percent of the world population. As such, they are fast becoming the world’s most important B2B decision makers and B2C consumers.

Before marketing to them, however, it’s important to know a little about their values and what motivates them. According to Dan Schawbel, New York Times bestselling author, partner and research Director at Future Workplace, and the founder of both Millennial Branding and, here are some interesting facts to consider:

  1. 81% have donated money, goods or services.
  2. 75% see themselves as authentic and are not willing to compromise their family and personal values.
  3. 61% are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference.
  4. They value education and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.
  5. They are more tolerant of races and groups than older generations. (US Chamber of Commerce)
  6. 65% say losing their phone or computer would have a greater negative impact on their daily routine than losing their car.

Marketing Messages

There are six universal buying motives that marketers need to know when selling to buyers of all generations, according to Roy Chitwood, author of World Class Selling. They are:

  1. Desire for Gain: This motive is usually related to achieving a financial advantage, such as earning more money.
  2. Fear of Loss: When consumers of B2C or B2B products believe they will experience harm, damage or injury that will cost them something, these emotions motivate them to buy.
  3. Comfort and Convenience: Well-being, ease, luxury, expediency, accessibility and closeness are the words and emotions associated with this buying motive.
  4. Security and Protection: Similar to fear of loss, this motive focuses on safety, guarding against something, creating defenses against potential harm.
  5. Pride of Ownership: While often difficult to justify logically, this motive has to do with purchases that represent an appreciation of the finer things in life, such as luxury cars, expensive jewelry, art collections, etc.
  6. Satisfaction of Emotion: The underlying intention here is to experience appreciation, recognition, love, joy and other positive feedback. For example, sending thank-you notes or gifts to others not only makes you feel good but can also build relationships.

In looking at millennials, the strongest buying motives appear to be comfort and convenience and satisfaction of emotion. When it comes to comfort, they appreciate workplace environments that allow them to work anywhere, anytime. They do not like the confines of traditional work setting. In terms of convenience, the opportunities to shop/buy online resonate with them. They are research savvy and know how to investigate facts, offers and opportunities. They figure things out for themselves or ask co-workers and colleagues for advice. For this reason, often it takes them less time to make a buying decision. Satisfaction of emotion is important to this market segment as well. As Schawbel noted, they are sensitive to world conditions and want to contribute to finding solutions to global problems. In addition, they want to be heard. They want sellers and/or employers to ask what they think and what’s important to them and listen to their responses. In this way they feel valued and are more likely to contribute in a positive way or to take advantage of a product or service offering.

In tapping into these buying motives, remember to keep your messaging short. While many believe millennials have short attention spans, it’s not always true. Focus on understanding them. Know that they want the facts without the fluff. Appeal to their sense of curiosity without burdening them with too much detail. Recognize and anticipate they will verify what you say. Be authentic and down to earth in your communications and interactions with them.

Marketing Channels

Unlike baby boomers and Gen Xers, millennials tend not to respond to traditional marketing methods and channels. That’s why the goal should be to meet millennials where they congregate.

As early technology adopters, they seek out and get much of their information from surfing the internet, using apps and engaging in social media outreach. Therefore, use media, gaming, interactive elements, personalized emails and text messaging to grab their attention.

Don’t underestimate the value of your website for millennials. Make sure the site is attractive, contemporary, easy to navigate and mobile friendly. Copy should be engaging, digestible and complemented by plenty of images, videos and infographics.

New rules for millennials and beyond

One of the largest generations in our history is transitioning into its prime spending years. Millennials are positioned to reshape the economy, and their unique experiences are changing the ways we buy and sell. When it comes to marketing, millennials have rewritten the rulebook. While every generation has its unique characteristics, millennials require a new and tailored approach. Savvy, demanding and tech-savvy, they crave brand connection, engagement and authenticity. Marketing to millennials doesn’t have to be intimidating but it does need to be thought out.

Yet as millennials attract the attention of marketers, it is important to acknowledge that Generation Z, which currently makes up 25 percent of the population, is not far behind. No matter which generation you are marketing to, certain marketing philosophies always ring true. Develop the right message and deliver it how, when and where your audience wants it. Done correctly, you can gain the business and loyalty of future generations..

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