UPDATE August 13, 2019 — Marketing to Millennials is no easy task. As most marketers are aware, the Millennial demographic represents a diverse age group distinct from Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Gen Z. To help brands better target this generation, we must first understand who Millennials are, what they want, and how they behave.
Although generational differences aren’t exact, general trends across age groups are apparent. Born between 1981-1996, Millennials are set to overtake the Baby Boomer population (72 million) in 2019 at 73 million.
Millennials are an interesting demographic when it comes to marketing, as they’re known for their adoption of new technology and rejection of traditional advertising. As a generation that grew up exposed to television and print advertising, marketers nowadays find it particularly tricky to market to them.
A few core characteristics help marketers define and understand Millennial consumers:
In addition, Millennials choose to align with brands that reflect their own set of interests and lifestyle aspirations, and they expect the brand to be responsive to what consumers want. As a result, Millennials consume most of their content online via social media where they can avoid the bombardment of ads and instead discover more relevant content.
The days of reaching Millennials through traditional print and television advertising are dwindling—many TV networks are pioneering digital strategies involving top YouTubers in an effort to retain Millennial viewership. With Millennials on pace to outnumber Baby Boomers and their spending at $1.3 trillion annually, it’s more important than ever for brands to know how to effectively market to them.
Brands have augmented their marketing strategies to focus on social media and now target specific audiences through social media influencers that Millennials follow across different platforms. To accomplish this, brands should employ the following three tips:
9 in 10 Millennials are on social media, meaning it’s vital that brands proactively establish a social media presence to get on Millennials’ radars. Creating campaigns that leverage the interactive nature of social media is the best way for brands to engage Millennials.
40% of Millennials believe influencers understand them better than their friends. Collaborating with Millennial influencers—everyday Millennial consumers who have the ability to sway the purchasing decisions of their peers—offers companies a way to authentically engage young customers and increase brand awareness by leveraging the relationships formed on the most popular social media platforms.
Because most influencers are Millennials themselves, they’re adept at creating engaging content that speaks to the interests, concerns, and priorities of Millennial consumers. Unlike traditional celebrities, Millennial influencers develop relationships with their followers on a more personal level, making influencer recommendations more likely to sway their audience’s purchase behavior.
Millennials don’t want brands to waste their time—in exchange for the time spent interacting with your brand, they expect something in return. To increase the likelihood that Millennial users engage with brand sponsored content, companies should strive to offer value in the form of information, entertainment, prizes, or promotions.
To see the dynamic of all three elements in action, we explore some of the best examples of how brands are marketing to Millennials with authentic content on the social media channels they prefer most.
Millennials prefer digital video over traditional TV and 46% plan to increase their usage of YouTube. Within the YouTube community, 70% of teenage Millennials prefer YouTube creators to traditional celebrities.
Ranked as the most intimate brand among Millennials, it’s no wonder marketers achieve success targeting Millennial consumers on YouTube. Brands are able to strategically reach this population with the help of YouTube creators who command influence over Millennials.
Marvel And Dude Perfect
Marvel and Universal created influencer marketing campaigns to promote their summer releases of Ant-Man and Trainwreck. Marvel partnered top YouTube channel Dude Perfect with Ant-Man actor Paul Rudd to showcase a lighthearted contest named Dizzy Sports Battle 2. Dude Perfect is geared towards sports and comedy, and its first Dizzy Sports Battle video gained over 8.5 million views.
The promotional video featured the five friends of Dude Perfect and Paul Rudd, the star of Ant-Man, in a contest to win the “smallest” prize. Within a month, the video garnered 6.6 million views.
Mercedes-Benz And Casey Neistat
Casey Neistat is a popular YouTube creator who has collaborated with prestigious brands such as J.Crew and Mercedes-Benz (see his behind-the-scenes videos here). With an affinity for rich storytelling and a bold yet affable persona, Neistat is able to develop creative and relatable content for his viewers.
Neistat implemented the same brand of storytelling in his multi-part campaign for luxury automaker Mercedes-Benz. In the series, Neistat seamlessly and transparently integrated the Mercedes-Benz CLA within his personal channel. In doing so, Neistat maintained integrity with his 1 million+ subscriber base while delivering riveting sponsored content.
As a platform that enables users to personally curate their feed to include their favorite influencers, friends, and brands, Instagram is the social media platform of choice for Millennials. It also represents a prime location for brands to reach Millennial consumers. Brands are already tapping into Instagram’s coveted user base of more than 1 billion, contributing to the Instagram influencer marketing industry that’s expected to reach $2.3 billion by 2020.
While top Instagram influencers maintain follower counts in the millions, that doesn’t mean they’re the perfect fit for your brand. Since navigating the vast sea of social media personalities requires an industrious effort, many brands partner with influencer marketing companies to find the right Instagram influencers. Agencies have developed rosters of influencers and can advise on the best-performing partnerships, social media channels, organic integrations, and industry best practices.
Bose And Millennial Influencers
Seattle Seahawks quarterback, Russel Wilson, played a pivotal role in Bose’s Instagram influencer marketing campaign to target Millennials. With a strong presence among a sport-sriven crowd, Russel was able to demonstrate the connection between Bose products and his performance. The focus on the product’s versatility and the brand’s team mentality helped Russel appeal to a demographic that’s shown more interest in trendy features, like those of Beats by Dre.
Bose also partnered with music artists and lifestyle influencers from the Millennial demographic to boost brand awareness and present many options for enhancing their audio experiences. The effort resulted in exposure among millions of engaged Millennial followers.
Hulu And Millennial Athlete Influencers
In Hulu’s push to promote its live sports streaming, the brand partnered with male and female athletes on Instagram. With many influencers already members of the Millennial generation, marketing to Millennials was a cinch for Hulu. On top of this, Hulu set out to make the sponsorship aspect blatant by titling the influencers “sellouts.”
Walking the fine line of what would be received well, Hulu leveraged athletes with an Instagram presence to mock the very strategy it employs—a tactic that proved successful among a generation open to peer and social influence.
The livestream gaming platform, Twitch, offers marketers the potential to reach Millennial males in particular. Males make up 81.5% of Twitch’s user base with 55% of those between the ages of 18-34. This makes Twitch an enticing advertising avenue.
KFC And DrLupo
Avid gamer and eSports player, DrLupo, partnered up with KFC to promote its chicken wings in a “winner winner chicken dinner” campaign. While Twitch is primarily a gaming platform, non-gaming brands can find unique ways to promote their products with gaming influencers.
In this case, DrLupo was effective in driving direct engagement with the brand by having viewers type “winner winner” in the video chat to enter to win a KFC gift card. This enabled KFC to foster a connection between its brand and online gaming culture. Reaching Millennial consumers was a natural byproduct of the campaign.
Snapchat is a dynamic social sharing platform that allows users to post content viewable for a brief amount of time before expiring within a predetermined time, or 24-hours when posted via ‘story.’ Approximately 60% of its users are Millennials who helped generate a 39% lift in YoY revenue for Snapchat.
While Gen Z is more prominent on the platform, brands are still marketing to Millennials through clever Snapchat influencer marketing campaigns. Brands also have the option of having influencers perform a brand channel Snapchat Takeover.
Shopstyle And Fashion Bloggers
Shopstyle partnered with 5 top fashion bloggers on Snapchat to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look into their lives while wearing self-curated outfits. Each blogger included a captioned link that directed users to ShopStyle’s Snapchat landing page where users can explore several retailer sites. While not completely seamless, the experience offers Millennials a more personal level of interaction.
Nordstrom And Karlie Kloss
To take advantage of Snapchat’s Millennial user base, retailer Nordstrom enlisted social media star Karlie Kloss to host a Snapchat photo contest between five Universities for a chance to win a party and 2,000 $100 vouchers for “job interview shoes.”
Nordstrom was able to generate massive engagement—the contest’s Snapchat Story was viewed 6.7 million times—and increased their Snapchat following by 60%.
Millennials are averse to overt marketing and instead seek organic and genuine marketing tactics. As a result, Millennials have the power to dictate a brand’s success through their social media activity. In NPR’s article “How To Market To Millennials,” marketer Antonus Siler candidly states “honestly, If I could say anything to the advertisers, it’d be this: entertain me, make me happy, capture my attention, speak to my conscious and then leave me the heck alone.”
As ad-block software and ad-blindness grows and Millennial TV viewership plummets, brands are realizing one of the only viable options is to target Millennials via social media. And marketing to Millennials with influencers offers an effective way to reach and resonate with Millennial consumers.
Beyond this, brands recognize the potential of turning Millennial consumers into brand advocates—consumers who believe in a company’s products or services enough to endorse the brand without compensation. In a survey conducted by research firm, Edelman, 74% of Millennials reportedly believe their recommendations can influence the purchasing decisions of their peers.
As your brand maps out plans for marketing to Millennials, remember the importance of social media, influencers, and valuable content.