Marketing to Millennials — What Works?

21 Mar

Much has been written about the Millennial Generation – those who were born roughly between 1980 and 2000. We plan to talk about some of the trends of the Millennials – also known as Generation Y — in future posts. But one aspect of this generation that hasn’t garnered as much discussion as some of the other characteristics is its consumer tendencies.

Mel Princeblogmillennialconsumersphoto, professor of marketing at Southern, says this generation is more “cosmopolitan” than others. By cosmopolitan, he means that the kids of today see themselves as “citizens of the world” more than in the past. Strictly speaking, of course, there are no citizens of the world. People are citizens of a particular country, or in some cases, more than one country. We are inhabitants of the world.

And Millennials – like those of previous generations — do identify themselves in this country as Americans. Nevertheless, they tend to see things through more of a global lens than do other generations, according to many experts. The consensus thus far is that they also place more of an emphasis on global issues than previous generations and are more likely to accept and participate in a diversity of cultural activities. They enjoy sampling life in a variety of neighborhoods throughout America and in communities around the globe.

And that interaction includes eating and shopping at establishments that are authentically from other cultures, rather than chain restaurants or retail operations.

Prince suggests that businesses should consider this trend when marketing to this new generation.

He offers the following recommendations:

  • Use high tech media as never before. Sure, the world has embraced the use of Facebook, Twitter, the Internet and other forms of advanced technological communication devices. But it is intertwined in the lives of Millennials in an unparalleled way. If you want to communicate with the Millennials, use of social media is more than just important — it’s critical.
  • Stress authenticity of products. Just as they prefer the “real deal” in consumerism when traveling abroad, Millennials also have more of an allegiance to independently-owned businesses at home.
  • Emphasize sustainability in business motives. Putting aside the cultural debate on the cause of climate change, today’s youth seem to be more concerned about the potential consequences than in past generations. They tend to place more value in businesses that highlight respect for the condition of the planet.
  • Employ urban cosmopolitan atmospheres in advertising messages. Generally speaking, Millennials seem to embrace life in the cities more than those of the Baby Boom Generation or Generation X. Therefore, it can be helpful to use cosmopolitan themes and stress the big city atmosphere when marketing to Millennials.
  • Use sophisticated brand messages that reflect increased cultural capital of this generation. Millennials are generally more comfortable and more attuned with the cultures of other races, ethnicities and nations. This sophistication should be represented in any marketing campaign toward Millennials.

Question to Millennials and non-Millennials alike: What are your thoughts and experiences pertaining to the new generation in the work place? Are they appreciably different from Baby Boomers and Gen Xers? If so, how?

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One Response to “Marketing to Millennials — What Works?”

  1. josephdkelly March 21, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    As a Millennial I would say that you are completely correct. Even as a marketer myself, I am fascinated by my own buyer behaviour. I definitely place higher loyalty to a brand that engages regularly on social media. For me, Red Bull & Virgin are two of the best examples.

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