What do Millennials Want from Your Brand?

Two millennials sitting on a couch engrossed in their cell phones.

The Millennial generation is coming of age. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 35 (as of the time of writing) are considered millennials, and many believe their shopping habits are far different than those of their parents and grandparents.

The Millennial generation is enigmatic to many of today's most popular brands. They grew up with technologies the generations before them could only dream about, and they tend to have vastly different interests – and different shopping habits. Many brands believe that millennials are less likely to spend as much money as their parents did, likely due to changes in the economy and job market. Fortunately, research shows that millennials do enjoy shopping much like the generation before them, however changes in technology, marketing, and the economy have shaped how millennials shop.

Brands should not expect to use the same marketing tactics for millennials as those used for Generation X and the Baby Boomers. Millennials have different interests, a different look on the economy, and different shopping habits. Research shows that small changes in marketing and branding can make huge differences in the minds of millennials. Businesses that fulfill the needs of millennials will find greater success in marketing to them.

We examined research from around the web to determine which marketing and branding strategies resonate best with millennials. As it turns out, millennials would rather watch videos about products than read about them in articles. According to a study done by Yahoo, 55 percent of millennials watch video more than once a day on a number of devices, and 72 percent wish to consume content across multiple devices. These statistics show that video marketing may be the number one way to reach millennials as a brand. Millennials want brief, funny, relevant content, but they don't want to read long-form articles. Combat this by putting a focus on video marketing, which will undoubtedly resonate well with today's young adults.

In addition to video marketing, brands wishing to connect with Generation Y should look into social media marketing. Social media is extremely popular among today's young adults, giving brands a number of reliable platforms to reach their audience. According to SDL, five out of six millennials connect with their favorite brands on social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), but they do so in hopes of getting something in return. Companies that offer coupons and discounts exclusively through their social media pages tend to perform much better with millennials than those that don't reciprocate.

Social media hasn't only affected marketing, but it's affected the way millennials see brands as a whole. The introduction of social media has given millennials a collective interest in their image. Social media platforms give millennials a place to show off their newest outfit or gadget to their friends, and brands should keep this trend in mind. Millennials buy products that make them look good and feel good. Take the Apple iPhone, for example: millions of millennials own Apple iPhones, but many pay little attention to the technical specifications of the smartphone line. The Apple iPhone is attractive and fun to use, and owning an iPhone presents a certain image that other smartphones lack.

Branding for millennials is as easy as offering a high quality product that makes them look or feel great. When millennials enjoy products that make them look and feel great, they share their experiences online, in social media posts, product reviews, and even YouTube videos. Play on this phenomena by giving millennials a product they will want to share.

Once you've got a product that can be marketed directly to millennials, you'll need to know where to sell it. We looked at data from Accenture about the shopping habits of millennials, and we found some interesting numbers:

  • 9 out of 10 millennials prefer shopping at drug stores.
  • 7 out of 10 millennials prefer to shop at electronics stores (Best Buy, Circuit City, etc.)
  • 8 out of 10 millennials prefer shopping at clothes stores.
  • 8 out of 10 millennials prefer shopping at department store.
  • 8 out of 10 millennials prefer shopping in discount/outlet stores.

The data busts a common myth that millennials only shop online. As it turns out, millennials shop at brick and mortar stores nearly as much as their parents. Millennials are more concerned about having a seamless shopping experience than shopping online. They want great service, good deals, and convenience, so make these the focus of your customer service experience.

After examining the data, it's clear that millennials are not as different from their parents as many brands would want you to believe. Generation Y has a somewhat poor reputation among older generations because of their vastly different way of life, but research indicates this is somewhat unearned. Surveys show that millennials are ambitious, and they wish to support companies that fulfill their ambitious drive. In fact, a report by Deloitte shows that roughly three quarters of all millennials prefer to support companies that treat their employees well. Millennials believe in job creation and improvement, which explains their fierce loyalty to brands that fulfill these criteria.

Although different from their parents in many ways, millennials share many of the same shopping habits of those before them. The addition of video marketing and social media marketing give brands new platforms to market to millennials, but the overall morality of the company seems to resonate best with today's young adults.

Are there any interesting statistics about marketing to millennials that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

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