The Rise of Millennials – and What Marketers Should Do

By Asha Tantuwaya


When was the last time you had the opportunity to look through the lens of a kaleidoscope? Perhaps this hasn’t happened since you were a child. If you recall, when you look into one end, light enters the other to create a pattern with the reflection from the mirrors. The levels of intricacy within each shape transcends into a unique beauty that is never the same with each turn.

Kaleidoscopes are similar to digital marketing. Depending on how you look at it, and who is looking, it can seem completely different – and it’s never the same from one client to the next. Although shoppers are highly driven by good advertising, understanding and accurately targeting key segments is critical to guarantee growth.  

Millennials, in particular, continue to command attention. Why? To start, this generation, born between 1982 and 2000, make up 83.1 million of the U.S. population today, according to the most recent U.S. Census. They are also the largest and most talked about spending generation in history, even compared to the Baby Boomers, with $1 trillion in spending power today. Capturing sales from this generation represents huge opportunities for brands.

Unfortunately, they are also possibly the most stereotyped, with many myths around this “selfie” generation. Millennials value their self-image, but they also care deeply about others and the world around them. They want to affect social change, and they give how and when they can. Unlike other generations, millennials have been raised with and shaped by technology, so they could more easily share their different ideas with the world.

Along with being incredibly tech savvy, this generation is known to socialize while consuming products and services. They heavily consult friends and family for recommendations and frequently make decisions as a group. Their drive and passion to find adventure also makes them far more challenging to appease.

Where does this leave advertisers?

Just like the kaleidoscope that always has new views and perspectives, developing a plan that considers millennials’ different preferences and behaviors, as well as how they are similar to previous generations, is fundamental to engaging with them. For example, like previous generations, they are not overly brand loyal, with 70 percent choosing price over brand, according to IRI research. And, 63 percent of millennials think store brands are just as good as national brands.

So how do you engage them?  

  • Create content that matters. Millennials want and expect communications to be personal and targeted directly to them. 
  • Offer value. Like every generation, millennials want to know that cheaper products are on par with pricier ones.  
  • Ensure impact within the community. Millennials deeply care about improving the world; they want to see that brands do too. 
  • Focus on consistency and authenticity. It’s easy for millennials to tell when a brand does not have a consistent voice, and they cry foul immediately when they spot messages that aren’t genuine.
  • Be on social platforms and mobile devices. This is simply because that’s where they are too. 

Although much of the marketing to millennials must be done digitally, using more traditional approaches is still relevant. Millennial purchases continue to be influenced by factors such as base price, sale price, promotions, in-store coupons, etc.

As media and marketing continue to help shape the experiences and preferences of this generation, understanding them starts with using different types of integrated data to recognize that they are not all alike but also more similar to other generations that you may think.

Kaleidoscopes may look different depending on how you view them, but good marketing starts with knowing exactly what you’re looking at.

IRI has created a unique segmentation that helps marketers better understand millennials. For more information, click here.

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