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How to Effectively Un-Market to Millennials

Posted by Michelle Kratzer on Sep 13, 2018 9:30:00 AM
Michelle Kratzer
Misunderstood Millennial


“You don't know about real loss, 'cause that only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much.” - Therapist speaking to Millennial patient on “Good Will Hunting”



How do you market to the Elusive, Misunderstood Millennial

The Millennial - hard to believe a generation could be more misunderstood than the widely marginalized  Generation X, but somehow Millennials seem to elude all of us -- sometimes even themselves. These mysterious creatures will soon take over the planet as the world’s largest living generation and we would be wise to try to understand them.
Millennials stand out
Millennials stand out from other generations
Born between the early 80’s and 90’s, Millennials stand out from other generations for several reasons. The Millennial generation is more racially and ethnically diverse, more likely to delay getting  married, and less likely to  buy homes than their generational predecessors. The shopping habits of this elusive generation also stand out, causing the more innovative companies to completely restructure their marketing efforts. How do you market to Millennials?
Well, as it turns out, you don’t... 
Here are 5 Things to Consider as you Engage with this Unique Demographic.


There is no pitch perfect

Before you make that perfect pitch, you should know that Millennials do not respond to ads. Millennials hate to be “sold to” or “pitched” anything. They want interaction and authentic two-way conversations. Learn the art of listening to anything they are willing to share. You can start by visiting some millennial-driven news sites like Buzzfeed  and Refinery29 and following millennial influencers on Instagram. When you begin to listen to them, you are on the track to engaging them and earning their trust.

Relax. Connect. Rediscover your funny side.

Be transparent

Share your product by telling your story on social media. Why do you like the product? What problem did it solve for you? Impromptu interaction can be started just by answering questions and replying to comments. Be honest. This generation comes with a built-in “spin” detector, and won’t fall for your usual charms. Product flaws that would be hidden or camouflaged for previous generations should be brought into the light and discussed. Millennials admire the confidence it takes to be transparent about who or what you are and what you have to offer.


be honest

Be honest. Millennials have a built-in spin detector


They feast on feedback

89% of Millennials trust feedback from friends and family more than claims by a brand. Kathi Moore, VP of branding for Fareportal/CheapOair, knows the value that positive feedback lends to their product: “Social Proof is very important to the Millennial consumer.”

This is the reason her company publishes reviews and makes post-travel surveys easily visible to their customers.  

Influencers also have a significant impact on the purchasing decisions of Millennials. Millennials trust influencers 44% more than ad campaigns. Product recommendations by respected industry influencers feel more like recommendations from trusted friends.



An astonishing 84% of Millennials report that user-generated content on company websites has at least some influence on what they buy. This also goes for large purchases including: major electronics (44%), cars (40%), hotels (39%), travel accommodations (32%), and credit cards (29%). Millennials not only like to share about the products they like and why they like them, they feel a responsibility to do so.


free marketing for ice cream

Is this simply a picture of a happy girl eating ice cream? Or is it free marketing for ice cream companies?


Contests to use and share product photos have been highly successful for companies like La Croix and their #yes2lacroix. These contests are a win-win. Companies get word of mouth advertising at little or no cost, and consumers get their 5 minutes of fame.


Sell your purpose 

Millennials who don’t care about the world around them? I’m sure they exist somewhere, but in the marketing world, Millennial do-gooders abound. Almost 50% of Millennials will buy a product to support a cause they believe in, even if it is more expensive. Generation X also uses their buying power to support the underserved and underprivileged, but here is the difference: Gen X consumers support their social causes by not buying from companies who clash with their views. Millennials, on the other hand, actively seek out companies who do good and only buy from them. However, before you go renaming your products to reflect their social good, just remember that because something is labeled “sustainable” or “vegan,” or even defined as ESG, does not mean it will meet the Millennials’ high standards.


Loyalty can be bought

Appeal to their adventure of trying something new. They do tend to be loyal to brands they’ve liked before, so you’ll need to pull them in with discounts. University of Arkansas did some research on Millennials and brand loyalty and found that 52% of millennials said they'd switch products for discounts of 15 percent or more.

So, if you are smart enough to innovate and brave enough to try, give Millennial marketing a go! Stop throwing money away with ads that get you nowhere and get busy on Social Media.

Improve your listening skills. Become more charitable. Discover a future influencer by posting user generated content.

If you find all of this too challenging, hire a Millennial to walk you through it. Turns out, these disruptors who want to heal the world make great employees, too.


Tune in next week for the final post on this series about marketing to different demographics! Want to learn more? Contact our Client Experience team.

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Topics: Business & Marketing, Customer Engagement

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