How To Market To Millennials

What the Hell is a Millennial?

Ah, so much discussion about millennials over the past two years, where can we even start? Who are they? What do they want? How do they work? What are they most interested in?

Majority of the blogs, vlogs, opinion articles and research topics we see on “millennials” fascinate us here at Inphantry. Why? Because they’re never written from millennials.  Most of the blogs appear seemingly out of touch, written for people, about people, who the authors appear to know next to nothing about, despite potentially sitting next to, or in proximity of thousands of them.

Millennials, skimming past all the relatively inaccurate descriptions out there on the internet, can be summed up as an age group born between 1981 to 1997 and are ‘digitally-inclined’ towards devices, the internet, media consumption, technology and more….they’ve also been recognized as having a supremely liberal approach to politics and economics, leading to an increase in spending and a general shift in consumer trends.

And therein lies the caveat….they don’t behave like any other generation before them. They are more idealistic than their baby-boomer parents, and crave authentic experiences over anything else. Not to mention they’re so technologically savvy that there’s little they can’t do from their very own fingertips….and that spans from their workplaces, to at home, and even the type of media they consume and brands they buy into and choose to follow.

So, what to do they want? And how do they want it? More importantly, what can marketers, brands and advertisers do to get an inside track on the millennial mind?

The answer is actually a lot easier than you think.


Get ready for the next big buzzphrase: Brand Authenticity

Before we dive into the next big buzzword of 2018 (it’s coming), let me be clear…..100% of the Inphantry team are millennials. And no, we’re not going to sit here touting our horns about how much we ‘know’ about every millennial out there, but rather, we’re going to talk about how we believe they should be marketed to, and why, and it all has to do with being real.

Brand authenticity has been a recent buzzphrase, staying mostly on the fringes of the advertising world – until recently – where brands and RFP’s flying into the doors of agencies across the country have recently seen the phrase, “Brand Authenticity.”

But, what does that even mean?

Brands,  agencies, products and service-related companies are all beginning to figure out one thing….millennials don’t really give a shit about much. They’ve been nicknamed the, “Me Me Me Generation,” by the likes of Forbes, Esquire, and more top-tier media companies who all have genuinely misunderstood the vast majority of millennials. Or, have they?

Here are a few key things you should know about millennials before we continue….

  • In 2015, their annual spending is expected to be $2.45 trillion and it will increase to $3.39 trillion in 2018 (via Oracle)
  • 63% of millennials stay updated on their favorite brands daily via social networks (Ipsos)
  • 46% rely on social media when purchasing online, and 55% of them review products via their mobile devices (YouGov)
  • 48% rely solely on word-of-mouth influences rather than traditional media buys (Intrepid)
  • 61% of have purchased something using their smartphone (Edelmen Digital)
  • 32% say they don’t like advertising in general (Experian Simmon)
  • 43% have liked more than 20 different brands or companies on Facebook
  • 77% are actively enrolled in loyalty reward programs
  • 84% that user generated content on company websites influence what they buy
  • 64% of them rely on social media from a brand to dictate what they buy

So, if there’s a couple things you should take away from the above statistics, it’s that most millennials order, review, and take into account their spending options from their mobile devices, and the brands social media.

But, you probably already knew that, didn’t you?  Let’s hit our second point, before bringing this whole thing full-circle.


Millennial Media Consumption & More

The millennial ‘always-on-the-go’ active lifestyle has led to an amazing trend in consumer habits. Being a generation that’s bigger than the baby-boomer age group, there are currently 92 million millennials in the US alone, which represents a massive market to quantify.

One of the biggest trends about millennials as well, is they prefer access over ownership. Meaning that proximity to services like car rentals, public transportation, shopping, sports, restaurants, and general convenience of things are preferred, over actually owning these items, such as cars, houses, or other belongings.  

In addition to that, according to Goldman Sachs, 57% of millennials are reshaping the in-store shopping experience by reviewing prices, leaving ratings, and comparing items all in real time, and actually preferring to make online purchases over in-store buys. Marking a trend of millennials flocking to brands who can offer the most convenience at the lowest cost of an item, mostly due to loyalty and reward programs. Another key point, is the fact that millennials are more attracted to brands who use social media in creative and savvy ways, even if that brand isn’t as well known as some of its premiere competitors. And while millennials are less attracted to the quality of a product and more interested in getting the best deal out there, according to

And lastly, one of the most interesting things about millennials is that they are set become the biggest consumers of media in general. While they are watching less TV than their baby-boomer parents, millennials are the first digitally-native generation of their kind, and are able to process information, media, ads, and more at 2x or 3x the pace of their parents and other generations.

All leading to one thing….


Millennials are craving fast, authentic, and digital experiences.

This isn’t an age group that’s untouchable, or unidentifiable, this is a group (92 million in fact) of people who are cutting through the B.S. of their day, consuming media at 2-3 times the rate of any other generation and are able to obtain information about whatever they want in SECONDS, all right from their fingertips. So, of course they want ‘authenticity.’

And it’s up to brands to deliver that to them.

So, how should brands, companies, and others market to millennnials? Be real. Be forthcoming, reward those consumers loyal to you, be funny, be light, follow the 80/20 rule (be 80% informational and relevant / 20% self-promotional) and give them something they can’t obtain from looking at their phone. And beyond that, millennials crave a human touch….they want to know they’re dealing with a real person, and crave those true peer-to-peer interactions, with a spark of creativity and inspiration to the mix, as well as access to things like lifehacks, or access to information that saves them time, money, and avoid headaches.

Part of the reason why experiential marketing is making such a big splash in cities around the world, is these digital brand experiences are exciting millennials to the point where they are being whisked away into a new world and shown things beyond what they can consume, hear about, or explore on a daily basis. They’re given or shown information that benefits and impacts their lives in a digital-first, positive way, that enhances the relationships between them (consumer) and the brand itself.

Millennials may be different in so many ways from other generations, but one thing remains the same… they still wish to be entertained. And by producing forward-thinking digital experiences, millennials can be marketed to, made loyal, and even be rewarded for their time and attention.


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P.S. If you’re looking for another great article on millennials & marketing, read this from Adweek.