Management Retail Service

Selling to the millennial generation

Order Reprints
Selling to the millennial generation

The new marketing battle cry is, “Here come the millennials!” This means millions of new consumers entering the marketplace with new standards and expectations.

Originally known as generation Y, these 16- to 32-year-olds now outsize the influential, graying baby boomers by as much as 8% to 9%. In this article, we’ll look at marketing to millennials and what matters to millennials.

Millennials examined

Before we get into the details of marketing and what matters, let’s take a look at studies done on millennials. Generations, like people, have personalities, and millennials are confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change. They will be the most educated generation in American history and are optimistic about the future of the nation. Their self-expression includes social networking; 75% have created a profile or posted a video of themselves, and 40% have at least one tattoo.

Tattoos and social media are examples of self-expression, and just like tattoos, a millennial’s social pages are one of a kind. They grew up in a media-saturated world where politicians lied, where wars continued, where parents were overly protective, and where terrorism made the world a more dangerous place. They respect their elders, yet are cautious regarding authority, and trust is earned through actions and the opinions of others, including Yelp. With millennials, trust is harder to earn and easier to lose.

This may sound contradictory, but millennials are loyal and open to change. Your first thought might be negative: If I work to attract this demographic, they will leave me anyway. That’s certainly one way to look at it, but here’s another: If I work to attract millennials and work hard to please them, then I also have a reasonable shot at attracting their digital friends and family who are willing to change. In the digital millennial age, it’s like word-of-mouth on steroids, and it can go either way, negative or positive.

Marketing to millennials

When marketing to millennials, it’s no surprise there are a myriad of digital channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Communication is a lifestyle with millennials, and their mobile devices keep them connected 24/7. These devices keep them connected to others in their digital community.

Reaching this generation requires breaking into the digital community with a message(s) that earns trust. Advertising offers that sound too good to be true will cause a millennial to become skeptical.

Many millennials are on very tight budgets due to student loans, high unemployment, under-employment and more.

Millennials place high value on value; they are not necessarily cheap, but they have done research online and are not likely to be oversold or unvalued both from a product or personal standpoint.

When it comes to marketing, there is probably not a better targeted advertising/marketing investment. The simple reason is numbers; there are tens of millions of millennials currently spending billions of dollars annually on goods and services. As this millennial movement gains momentum, the results of winner vs. loser will be determined by smart marketing more than ever in history.

I’ve been talking about counter intelligence for years now, and it has never been more important. Truth and transparency is paramount to earning their trust, and personalized service is critical to maintaining their loyalty. Millennials like things their way; they have been told all their lives that they are special, and they believe it.

Keep the following in mind:

Your website must be optimized for mobile devices. Millennials have no patience and no desire to work to view your website. If you don’t know what this means, find out today.

You must maintain a social media profile, one that is informative, interactive and up-to-date. Pictures of your company picnic from three years ago are a turnoff.

Marketing offers and advertising must be relevant and straightforward; again, no patience to dig for the value.

Remember, millennials feel lied to, and in many cases, ripped off. You must nurture the relationship because it’s worth the time and effort.

Millennials represent the best potential long-term revenue for your location(s).

If your digital marketing is built correctly, they will come. If you don’t like dealing with millennials, sell your business now.     ■

Wayne Williams is president of ExSell Marketing Inc., a “counter intelligence” firm based in La Habra, Calif. He can be reached at

For more Counter Intelligence articles, see:

Bring your 'AA' game: UHP buyers walk in more than ready for you

At your tire dealership, the hardest thing to change is your mind

Avoiding certain sales attitudes

You must login or register in order to post a comment.