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3 Key Millennial Traits Every Marketer Should Know

Young woman looking at smartphone outdoors

Image by Daria Nepriakhina via Unsplash

Another blog post, another target audience to discuss. In this installment of our generational marketing series we're talking about millennials.

We've previously covered marketing to Generation Z—the group of people directly below millennials. While the earliest members of Gen Z were born in the mid-1990s, the term "millennial" refers to people born between the mid-90s and 1980. According to the Washington Post, millennials in 2015 surpassed Baby Boomers as America's largest living generation.

There's definitely some overlap between the characteristics of millennials and Gen Z, so many of the Gen Z marketing strategies we discussed are applicable to millennials as well. Those include strategies such as working with digital influencers, making use of video on social media and optimizing your website for mobile devices.

But what are some of the traits that differentiate millennials from Generation Z? Here are a few.

1. They're Highly Ambitious

As we wrote in our piece on Gen Z marketing, that generation is "more down-to-earth" than their millennial elders.

While Gen Zers, like millennials, are tech-savvy and highly-driven, they tend to have a more practical way of thinking in terms of their career paths. Millennials, on the other hand, are often times drawn to the idea of starting their own business or traveling the world as opposed to a traditional 9-to-5 (or 6) job. The following quote from Entrepreneur magazine really sums it up:

"We play to win, and in order to win at the highest level, you must dream at the highest level. Millennials never stop dreaming. Millennials know they will never be too young or too old to dream big. They know that you can't get wealthy with low standards, and they understand that life organizes around the standards you set for yourself."

Whether you admire their ambition, or think they need to just "grow up," there's no doubt that millennials tend to set the bar high. So what does that mean for your marketing strategy?

Messaging that praises "the individual" or an ambitious lifestyle is likely to strike a chord with millennials. Slogans like Apple's "Think different," or Nike's "Just do it," come to mind. By playing to millennials' "outside the box" way of thinking, you're sure to connect with your audience.


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2. They Like to Give Back

What's the most important element of an effective ad? Is it demonstrating the value of your brand? Compelling copy? A special offer that's too good to pass up? Even if your ad has all of the above, you might still need a little something extra to win over millennials.

Marketing guru Neil Patel says a major factor for millennial consumers is that the businesses they shop with support a cause of some kind. He points to the success of small, yet popular brands such as TOMS footwear and Warby Parker glasses. Both companies match a donation to the less fortunate for every sale they make.

That commitment to giving back has solidified both brands among their millennial target audiences. That's because, according to Patel, 75 percent of millennials want businesses to contribute to society with their profits.

Still don't believe in the power of doing good? Get this. Thirty-seven percent of millennials say they're willing to pay more for a business' product than for that of a competitor if the business supports some kind of cause.

So consider lending your business's support to a special cause that's important to you. It can help make the world a better place, and some of that good karma might even find its way back to you.

3. They Value the Opinions of Their Peers

Alright, this one's not entirely unique to millennials. Both millennials and Gen Zers would rather hear about a product or service from one of their peers online than from a paid spokesperson.

But while we focused on working with digital influencers in our Gen Z marketing post, there's another way to generate positive buzz online that we didn't touch on—building up reviews. Whether it's a restaurant or hotel review on a website like Yelp or TripAdvisor, or a product review on Amazon, millennials are sure to do some research online to find out what their peers are saying about your business.

You should make it as easy as possible for customers to review your brand online. If you're a small business owner, post signage prominently that lets them know what review-sites you're active on. If you run an e-commerce shop or mobile app, send follow-up emails or push notifications encouraging your customers to review your business online.

A well-rounded online review strategy doesn't end there. That's because, of course, not every review your business receives online is going to be glowing. And as SocialMediaToday points out, it's imperative to address these negative reviews head-on. Check out your reviews online regularly, and take ownership when a customer is less than pleased.

So get active on some of the many review-sites out there. While your business might not be a fit for all of these sites, you're bound to be a good match for at least a few.

  • Yelp

  • Foursquare

  • TripAdvisor

  • Google Local

  • Yahoo Local

  • Facebook

  • Angie's List

When you encourage your customers to review your business online, it might not seem like a big deal. But if they're impressed by what you do, it could go a long way in helping to attract more customers.


Want to talk more about marketing to millennials?

Contact us today for your FREE creative audit.


What's your secret for connecting with millennials? Share your thoughts in the comment box below!

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