Engaging the Elusive Millennial

Posted by on March 14, 2015 in Post To Home Page, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Engaging the Elusive Millennial

In case you haven’t noticed, Baby Boomers’ babies are gaining increased buying power and market share, inspiring a sense of panic among marketers unsure of how to reach this millennial generation. Our advice: don’t panic, but do read on.


Millennials are the 18 to 35 year olds deemed to bring an end to the monetization of media. But that’s not all, they’re also lazy, entitled, disconnected and cheap. Or that’s at least how they’ve been widely profiled. Luckily for them, for you, and for the future of media, this generalization is entirely wrong.

Millennials are actually:

They are dismissed as selfish, rude and disconnected as they remain permanently “plugged-in” to their mobile devices. But for this generation — the first to grow up with, or after, the popularization of the internet — mobile is a means to hyper-connection unattainable offline.

Immersed in a sharing community, the mobile internet provides a way to share insights, do research and develop relationships. So far, all signs point to millennials being engaged and caring individuals.

They are accused of being entitled. Having entered a workforce void of the same opportunity as their parents, they are offered judgement, not sympathy, for their difficulty in landing a job.

It’s true: having seen the success of their Baby Boomer parents first hand, they have higher quality-of-life standards. They want to “work to live” not “live to work” and they adhere to a strong set of personal values and beliefs that support this prioritization. Does that sound so bad?

Finally, they are categorized as cheap. They were raised through a recession, the effects of which can still be seen in the lean workforce. They are expected to have a post-secondary education, but even a Masters degree won’t guarantee them employment.

As a result they are careful and calculating with their money. Constant access to information gives them the ability to research anything and everything. They value peer feedback and seek out brand values that align with their own. Ultimately, once they believe in a product, they are willing to invest.



Millennials are responsible for $430 billion in annual, non-essential spending. They may not be buying traditional media, but consider this: in order to be so constantly connected to their devices, millennials need to make some serious investments.

Their principal investment goes into the devices themselves. In fact, if millennials replace each of their tablets, PC’s and game consoles on an average 5-year cycle, they will spend approximately $3,000 per year on technology—devices designed to keep them connected (source: Deloitte’s 2015 Predictions). Once they have the devices, they need the content that fills them—they just might be choosier about where they get it.

So, how do you get them to choose you?



It’s easy enough: start thinking like one.

1. Improve your Image

A large part of the sharing-centric mentality is the portrayal of an ideal public image. Millennials fear putting a boring life on display (Source: WARC Toolkit).

The first step for marketers is to illustrate how their product makes life more interesting, and demonstrate that they too care about their image.

Take General Electric, for example. Recognizing that they weren’t going to reach the next generation of appliance buyers in traditional marketing streams, they went social. 175,000 Instagram followers later, they have thousands of beautiful pictures and captivating videos to demonstrate how GE Appliances will make your life better.

2. Emphasize the Experience

“Millennials are spending less money on products and more money on experiences” – Ricardo Bilton, DigiDay

According to Deloitte, millennials will spend an average of $750 each on media content this year. Clearly this generation still relies on purchased content, though their desired form of media has evolved. Take a look at these further stats:

  • They don’t buy CD’s, but they are more likely to spend on live music than any previous generation, and about 12.5 million millennials hold premium subscriptions to Spotify, a musical streaming service.
  • They don’t buy DVD’s, but 43% of them pay for streaming video on demand services, such as Netflix
  • They will purchase about 20% of all movie tickets in 2015; paying more than any other age group as they fall within the full fare adult ticket price.

The shift from physical substance to ephemeral experience is evident, and experience can be curated particularly well through video.

According to Chris Llewellyn, consumers spend twice as much time watching video content online than they do reading text online; videos generate 4 times as many leads as other forms of advertising.

3. Be Shareable

To prove the significance of social sharing, let’s consider the survival of the printed book. The same Deloitte study says that 92% of 18-29 year old book readers in the US prefer to read in print. Physical books relay an image to the public about the reader, effectively giving them more sharing power than their electronic counterparts, which reveal nothing about reader’s chosen subject.

When it comes to sharing, millennials are competitive, too. 72% would rather be the source of information to a friend than vice versa, meaning that if you offer interesting, relevant content, their inclination will be to share it before someone else does.

Unlike their parents, sources aren’t a big concern. They won’t blindly believe in something based solely on its source, and they won’t discredit something for a mere lack of establishment. They consider relatively recent platforms, like Twitter, completely credible, further promoting the sharability of content.

That being said, Millennial Marketing tells us that when they are seeking out information for themselves, they still see newspapers as the most credible source. 40 million millennials get news and information from newspapers, both print and digital, accounting for 56% of their generation (source: NAA). Just keep in mind that a clipped article doesn’t have nearly the same viral impact as a re-tweet.

4. Customize like Crazy

So far we’ve lumped this generation together for argument’s sake, but when you take a closer look at the individual profiles of the millennial category it becomes clear how crucial it is to customize content. A 35 year old female isn’t going to seek out content in the same places as an 18 year old male. Similarly, the experiences that intrigue one will differ greatly from the other.

“Brands must determine where their customers are, and then meet them there.” – Paige O’Neill, Chief Marketing Officer, SDL

Their immersion in the online world makes them immune to interruption. As NewsCred puts it, “they have learned how to completely ignore things that don’t add value to their lives.”

Luckily technology doesn’t end with smartphones and iPads; the technology to reach a very specific target audience also exists. And with their trusting admission of personal data, millennials are begging you (truly!) to appeal to them in an honest, intriguing and ultimately valuable way.

5. Be Instantaneous

Okay, so not literally, that’s unrealistic, but we should take a leaf out of the millennial manuscript (that hard copy one they’re still reading) and expect quicker results.

Having grown up in the mobile age, millennials want instant gratification, which means that when you’re marketing to them, you should too. Don’t wait until month’s end to figure out what worked and what didn’t work, when the opportunity exists to learn along the way. Monitor your marketing streams regularly and keep thinking like a millennial so you can adapt accordingly and quickly.


Echo boomers aren’t as mad as they may seem; in fact millennials and marketers care about many of the same things: a positive public image, firmly rooted beliefs, and strong relationships. So when it comes to being relatable, you’re already on track.

Image courtesy of jonny goldstein, flickr