Marketing to Millennials: Straightforward but Complex

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You’ve seen the headlines and the sweeping statements about this generation of Americans born between 1982 and 2004: They’re described as entitled, civic-minded, environmentally conscious, and as “Generation Me.” Like it or not, millennials are a powerful group in the marketplace. Millennials represent about a fourth of the U.S. population and shell out about $200 billion annually, according to Forbes. As a result, many industries are pouring billions of dollars into marketing and advertising campaigns hoping to catch this demographic.

Stereotypes can be helpful tools while crafting marketing and advertising campaigns, but labels have their disadvantages, especially when it comes to millennials. When you think about this “everyone gets a trophy generation,” certain stereotypes often surface: addicted to technology, narcissistic, and entitled. While many of these labels apply, if you fail to account for the diversity within this generation, you will miss the mark. Millennials are much more complex, especially when it comes to marketing.

Millennials are cautious with their purchases and time. While they aren’t inherently loyal, they do latch onto certain brands and movements when organizations take time to engage their customers.

Customization is key

Today a one-size-fits-all approach to business is inadequate; millennials want customized products. The New York Times coined a perfect term to describe what millennials want.


Millennials are about individuality, so they search for products that make them feel unique. If your company or organization can’t provide this customization, they’ll look elsewhere.

Nike is the champion of marketing individuality across its product lines. Customers can lace up their Nike shoes, customized in their favorite colors and styles, and then share workouts with friends across the world using the Nike app. Not only does the app provide interconnectivity, which millennials crave, it also helps users stay motivated and track their fitness goals.

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This customization helped Nike to become one of the few brands that millennials latch onto in their daily lives.

Brand loyalty no longer a luxury

Selectivity has been ingrained in millennials from birth, because this generation has never lived without an array of brand options at their disposal. Today companies face the daunting task of proving how their brands cater to consumers. Brands that fail to embrace customization will inevitably fail.

Ultimately millennials want to feel as if they have a voice; they want to interact with companies that create products or services they buy. To earn millennials’ loyalty to a product or campaign, organizations need to do more than listen; they need to interact.

Businesses and nonprofits can no longer hide behind one-way communication, because social media has ripped away barriers between organizations and the public. But simply responding to tweets and Facebook posts is not enough; companies must go several steps further – like offering loyalty programs and special access to sales and other promotional events.

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 5.20.21 PMTo succeed with millennials, companies need to keep consumers up-to-date, not only with what is in the market now, but also with what is to come. Companies need to take a cue from Target when it comes to marketing to millennials. The retail giant announced in January its plan to unveil a new Lilly Pulitzer product line in the spring, sparking months of anticipation on social media and news outlets. When the line debuted in early April, the product virtually sold out from the high demand online, sparking a frenzy on social media and the news.

Millennials: Give it to me quick and easy

Adding another obstacle to the mix is the demand for immediacy. Shopping and acquiring information has never been more immediate. Millennials want to access information about a product or campaign with just a tap of a finger. They don’t want to wade through a newspaper, magazine, or television show to get the information they need. Instead they want this process to be quick, effortless, with accessibility anywhere and anytime. This is why mobile is the preferred method of communication among millennials.

Google changed its ranking formulas on April 21 to place mobile-friendly websites higher in search results than websites that are unresponsive to mobile. Google’s move has had a significant impact on search rankings on mobile devices. So if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, more than likely you aren’t reaching the majority of people ages 18 to 33. You could be missing out on other demographics as well because nearly 50 percent of all Google searches happen on mobile devices.

Click here to see if your site is mobile friendly.

Wonder if you’re missing the mark?

Organizations that fail to change with the times will struggle, even fail, especially if their targets are younger generations. Don’t know how to change your course? Girl on the Roof can help. From strategic marketing to website design, our team can help you target the demographics you want to attract, whether it’s millenials or Gen Xers.

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