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Millennial Marketing: From a Millennial Perspective

Inbound Marketing | | 5 minute read

You can’t Google “marketing strategies” without coming across at least one or two posts about the importance of the Millennial consumer. Millennials are being hailed as one of the greatest consumer and workforce powers in the world today. That’s right – the kids who grew up with the Macarena, AOL Instant Messenger, and Harry Potter are all old enough to begin making their own purchasing decisions and begin their careers. Scary, isn’t it?

Millennials are drastically different from any other prior generation, and brands who need the approval of the 18 to late-20s crowd are adjusting to catch their attention. If you’re not marketing to this generation – my generation – you may want to begin considering it. Did you know that:

  • In 2012, only 27% of purchasing decisions were made by consumers aged 18-34
  • By 2014, that 27% grew to 46%
  • United States Millennials hold $170 billion a year in buying power
  • Millennials are loyal, with 80% coming back to the same company they’ve previously enjoyed a purchase from

Holy stats, Batman! The question is – why do “old” marketing tactics not work with this “new” generation? And what do you need to do to appeal to this consumer? Take it from a Millennial herself:

Opinions matter – the consumer review is essential

With Halloween fast approaching I recently purchased the pieces I needed to complete my costume. Over the course of a week, it took around 5 hours of online shopping before I was satisfied with the items in my Amazon and EBay carts. That’s crazy, right? Why would it take several hours to order a mere 6 items? Reviews, reviews, and more reviews.

  • 93% of Millennials rely on reviews to make a purchasing decision
  • 93% also heard about a product from a friend before deciding to purchase the product
  • 68% of Millennials say peer reviews are reliable sources of information
  • More than half of Millennials say user-generated content assisted them in purchasing decisions

Why do reviews hold such weight in our purchasing decisions? Millennials generally do not trust big brands – TV, magazine, and other forms of traditional ads hold a lot less weight than user-generated content (reviews, blogs, social media, etc.)

Saying we have a short attention span is an understatement

We’re called Millennials because we grew up with the Internet, we’ve all had access to the information or entertainment we want the instant we want it, no matter where we are. We are constantly consuming information from the moment we wake up until the moment we fall asleep. Although we are very open to exploring new resources, or purchasing new products, we tend to stay with the same brands – but you have to get our attention first, and keep it. How do you do it?

Research your audience – Millennials are an extremely diverse generation – and organize your marketing strategy around our interests. I want to laugh within the first few moments of a YouTube video featuring kittens you claim is “hilarious.” I want to find relevant information on a book I want to purchase within the first paragraph of a review on your blog. Overall, I want to connect with you on some level before I buy your product or invest in your brand.

  • 95% of Millennials want their brands to actively court them
  • 35% say purchasing decisions are based on the content being interesting and educational
    (31% also agree content should be authentic and truthful without being “salesy”)
  • 53% say they base their business off of who fits their personality

There is nothing more frustrating than turning my iHeart radio to my Miranda Lambert station and hearing Taylor Swift’s songs since she left country music behind. My point is, once you know your audience, give them exactly what they want and they’ll keep coming back.

Our values are more valuable than your product

In case you haven’t been on Facebook in the past 5 years or so, Millennials are very passionate about their values. It reflects in everything from Pittsburgh Pirates Facebook comments to our purchasing decisions. And yeah, sometimes it’s over the top – sometimes we should refrain from saying that we’re moving out of Pittsburgh until Clint Hurdle is fired (not my opinion, I love Hurdle.) But that doesn’t matter – as the biggest consumer group in the world you need to please us.

We’re more likely to purchase your products if you share similar values with us. Of course your biggest selling point is your product – but with the power of the Internet, we’ll find it somewhere else if we don’t agree with your values. Furthermore, we want to know that you’re true to those values because you can say or be anyone you want on the Internet. I could tell you I’m J.K. Rowling if I wanted to – but that doesn’t make it believable.

(Fun fact – you have J.K. to thank for many Millennials’ value system. We did grow up with Harry Potter, after all.)

We’re like M&Ms – similar concept with a different filling

Perhaps one of the most irksome ideas on Millennial marketing is the idea that we are all targeted in the same fashion. It’s easy to group Millennials into one category with one marketing strategy and call it a day – but will that get you results? Absolutely, you’ll have some results with those who identify with your brand, but it will come at a hefty price.

Millennials are the most diverse generation in world history. This includes our culture, values, education, and every other aspect of our identity. If you target simply “Millennials,” your ROI may suffer. Some of us may enjoy watching a YouTube video while others may prefer to read a blog post. Your audience may enjoy country music more than the current Top 40 hit list. Your new finance App may be more appealing to the younger of the Millennials as the older groups may have financial Apps that work for them. In other words, do your research on your audience and make an attempt to connect with your Millennial market on more levels than just our generational category.

It's only a matter of time before the Millennial consumer power house takes over more of the buying power. It's time to consider developing a marketing strategy that speaks to my generation now, to guarantee our loyalty to your brand in the future.


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Brittany Jackson

Brittany joined Pittsburgh Internet Consulting in November 2014 after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Brittany is PIC's Social Media Specialist and one of our Content Developers.

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