WD World

Millennial Misconception

The Hype Is Here

In the marketing world, it’s hardly news that millennials are a valuable demographic. In fact, the Google search for “how to market to millennials” brings up more than 2.2 million results. The hype is huge, and everyone from car companies to big banks are jumping on the bandwagon and trying to capture this age group.

However, despite the acknowledgment that millennials are a powerhouse, certain brands have yet to develop strategies on how to capture this audience. Having a “that’s not us” mindset about who their audience is, many premium brands have misconceptions about who exactly a millennial is and how they could possibly be essential to future growth. “Millennial” has become a buzzword rife with less-than-favorable connotations: a stereotype of Snapchat-taking, Kardashian-loving, entitled hipsters who still live at home.

Even brands that don’t count millennials as their primary audience would be remiss if they didn’t consider them in tertiary tactics. Why? Well, millennials are growing up.



The largest generation in American history is about to move into its prime spending years. A millennial is generally considered to be an individual born from 1980 to 1997, roughly between the ages of 18 and 35. At this point in time, there are no millennials who aren’t actually adults.  It is estimated they’ll be spending $200 billion annually in 2017 and $10 trillion over their lifetimes as consumers.  As millennials begin to climb up the corporate ladder, settle into long term relationships, and grow into adulthood, their spending habits shift from purchasing overpriced craft brews to purchasing first-time home mortgages.

Even if this demographic doesn’t currently make up the core audience of a brand’s target base, to survive and thrive, a brand must prime their marketing strategies in order to stay relevant in the long term.


Emoji Wasteland

Despite the economic bounty, many premium brands don’t see their brand voice aligning with this demographic ­­– believing that the only way cater to millennials is by creating Beyoncé memes and and emoji-riddled tweets. However, this kind of pandering is not a sound strategy and can send marketers pretty far off the mark. In fact, many millennials could see this as trying too hard – like a parent who tries cringeworthily to use slang. Not the image a brand wants to portray.

So how does a premium brand market to this desirable generation without losing their brand identity?

Top Strategies:

  1. Be visible. As marketers, we are familiar with the phrase, “mobile first.” But nowhere does this phrase ring more true when talking about Millennials. For brands to be seen by millennials, not only must they have a strong digital presence, but they must have a strong mobile strategy.
  2. Be easy. Speed and ease of use is paramount for marketers looking to connect with Millennials online. Google reports that 70% of smartphone users who switch to another site or app did so because load time was too long, and 67% switch if there are too many steps to get information. There is a reason why user experience has continued to play a larger and larger role in digital marketing. To ensure that users engage with the brand, marketers need to simplify processes, anticipate needs, and ensure that a site’s load time is minimal.
  3. Be valuable. The economy has forced millennials to delay large purchases and demand a new level of value from the brands they engage with. This means that markers must demonstrate how their brand enhances life experience and value beyond just the product’s service. For instance, Nestle Toll House (noting that their loyal bakers were aging out of the category and younger bakers weren’t replacing them at the same pace) reinvented their entire digital strategy in order to adapt. Nestle shifted from traditional seasonal marketing campaigns to creating a robust YouTube baking channel to help today’s modern baker in the moment they were seeking recipes and inspiration. Nestle saw that Toll House could play a role as a friend and partner in the kitchen. The result: 17+ million unique modern bakers reached since 2015 through YouTube TrueView ads. YouTube TrueView view-through rates for Nestle’s”Bake My Day” series are 43% above the CPG benchmark

Though these strategies will help a premium brand engage with millennials without having to be fluent in emoji, they are also strategies that are recommended for more than just the 18- to 33-year-old demographic. Smart marketing strategies complement an audience’s everyday life habits, and in this digital age, many of those habits are shifting to be primarily online for audiences of all ages.

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