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The Millennial Takeover: Four Things You Need to Know

When you hear the term millennial, what do you picture in your head? A twenty-something with ripped jeans and an iPhone in hand? A thirty-something with an entitled sense of self? A college grad with an innate thirst for freedom and individuality? A trendy young mom with a coffee in one hand and a baby in the other?

No matter what you pictured, the fact is that millennials are taking over the marketplace. Technically, millennials include anyone born between 1981 and 1995. As we learned in Generational Marketing: The People, millennials are quickly surpassing the baby boomers as the largest generation, making up over one fourth of the total population, and making up most of the current workforce. The purchasing power of millennials is astronomical – they spend approximately 600 billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone and are projected to spend up to 1.4 trillion by 2020.

Millennials are a force to be reckoned with and marketers would be wise to learn the ins and outs of this emerging generation. Obviously, not all millennials are alike, but there are a few key points brands should keep in mind. Here are four things you need to know about millennials.

1. They crave freedom, individuality and authenticity.

Millennials yearn for freedom and are always looking for a way to express their individuality. The way they view the world sets them apart in a unique way. They love to break the rules and set their own trends, rather than follow in the footsteps of previous generations. Millennials are always looking for a way to define their identity and need the freedom to learn and grow and change.

Because of this need for freedom and flexibility, they do not respond well to rigid social media campaigns and strict contracts. They like seamless transactions, to make their own choices and are more likely to respond to a fluid marketing strategy that evolves with them.

Marketing Tips:

  • Pitch your marketing strategy to an experience rather than a product.

  • Target content toward the creation of new ideas, and a collaboration that involves millennials in the development of a product.

  • Address millennials in a personal way; tell a story and interact with them


  • Coca Cola company has made sipping a coke a special experience. Their “Share a Coke” campaign personalized coke bottles with the most popular names of millennials and teens, not only making their product shareable on social media, but focused on individuality and personalization.

2. They are highly influenced by their peers.

As a millennial and a mom, it doesn’t take long to realize that the internet is teeming with information about parenting. A friend of mine who is a new mom loves sending me articles by Scary Mommy, a popular blog written by mothers for mothers. Content that is relatable, peer-driven and authentic is very appealing to the millennial, regardless of the subject matter.

The nature of social media makes sharing, pinning, retweeting and forwarding content easy and immediate. When purchasing a product or investing in a specific brand, millennials look to their peers.

Marketing Tips:

  • Brands that want to reach millennials need to use the voice of a peer, a voice they can trust and would proudly share with a friend.

  • Popular social media platforms such as Instagram and YouTube, are perfect tools for brands to engage in consumer generated content.


  • The fashion and beauty industry have a lot of great examples of peer-influenced and consumer generated content. Lauren Conrad, previous star of The Hills, has a popular blog and her own fashion line at Kohl’s. She is often blogging or sharing pictures of consumers wearing her clothes.

3. They want to make a difference in the world.

Millennials value authenticity, purpose and social change. They have made philanthropy in business popular and trendy. Millennials are all about finding fulfillment. They are more likely to invest their time and money into a brand (or career for that matter) that is making a difference in the world, than a brand who is just out to sell their product.

Marketing Tips:

  • Partner with a good cause in your own community, and not only increase your appeal to millennials, but also actually make the world a better place.

  • Donate a portion of profits to a charity or donate items to a worthy cause.


  • In 2011, Levi Strauss launched a Water<Less process for creating their garments using significantly less water in the finishing process (96% less water for some styles). Since they launched this process, they have saved more than 1 billion liters of water in the manufacturing of their products. They are recognizing a world need (water scarcity) and doing something about it, while still creating a product with “the same great look and feel that you know and love.”

4. They are the most connected generation.

Millennials grew up with technology as a very present part of their lives. Often, millennials are connected to multiple devices at once – smart phones, laptops, tablets, smart watches – there are multiple tech options available to them at all times. They are a mobile generation, technology is with them wherever they go.

With technology constantly available to millennials, marketers have a huge potential to develop their strategy using social media. Millennials are far more likely to trust a brand that has positive feedback on a social media site.

Marketing Tips:

  • Develop a strong social media presence and create social media campaigns that are interactive. Offering millennials information, entertainment, or promotions to make your social media presence known and your brand worth their time.

  • Using platforms such as Instagram Stories, Snapchat and Live Video on Facebook reaches millennials in real time, and is the perfect way to reach them where they’re at.

  • Make sure your social media campaign is mobile friendly, as most millennials are using their phones to be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and usually check their phones up to 150 times a day!


  • Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos on Facebook are a great example of a quality social media campaign. These helpful how-to videos are accessible, informative and make dinner planning way easier and a lot more fun.

It is important to remember that all millennials have unique personalities and that the generation is a diverse one. Somewhere, I’m sure there is a ripped-jeans wearing millennial ordering a cup of organic fair-trade coffee just waiting to ignore the next hard sell. Or, like me, there is a millennial mom with two kids flocking to social media for a glimpse of the outside world, checking Instagram for the latest peer-endorsed fashion trends. Millennials want to support brands that are authentic, interactive, charitable and accessible.

Getting to know the millennial generation is an important task for any marketing agency or brand. Need help marketing to millennials or any other generation? We can help!! Follow our blogs and sign up for our newsletter for more information and to learn how to market to every generation!

Becky Martin is a content writer with a passion for creativity, and also has an extensive background in psychology. In addition to writing, Becky is an avid reader who collects old books, loves to sing and travel, and drinks way too much coffee! She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband Jeff and adorable sons Charlie and Lucas.

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