Who are the millennials and how can you as a marketer reach them? Below are some key findings.

- Millennials live in cities or with their parents. They put a premium on urban lifestyles and don’t aspire for suburban adulthood. Advertisers are therefore more likely to reach them in urban formats and community settings.

- Millennials have an inherent need for authenticity, creativity and diversity. They want brands to keep their messages real. They don’t wish to be stereotyped and put a premium on scarcity and distinctiveness. Their passions and priorities are eclectic and fragmented despite their connectedness. Marketers should relate to them with a priority on individuality and customization. They wish to engage in two-way conversation and will not function as merely recipients of information, but be able to provide feedback and become a brand ambassador.

- Millennials care about social issues. The majority does not have the economical stability to donate large sums of money to charity, but they love to crowdsource their philanthropy.  They respond well to cause marketing and are likely to invest in products that promote social betterment. Giving is a socially monitored activity and this can function as a good kind of peer pressure. A brand that facilitates the giving and getting process and make it socially sharable will be viewed positively.

- Focus on “value for money”. Millennials are not financially thriving and have had a harder time getting firm grounding in the suffering economy. A brand should commiserate with their condition and bring deals to them in a way they can easily obtain through online, mobile or social. They have a desire to own the latest new products and appreciate good deals.

- Social media and mobile. Millennials are not sitting at home, but are addicted to their smartphones and social networking sites, making these the most effective ways to reach them. However, it is important to not be intrusive and respect the collective. They are more likely to make a purchase if it is recommended or approved by a friend.

- Millennials are most likely to react to messages delivered from celebrities they admire or relatable characters/themes. They appreciate event sponsorship and are more likely than their elders to buy products from brands that support artists they like. Music artists are especially impact-full because they rank music as one of the defining characteristics of their generation.

According to a white paper from ComScore based on 1000 TV tests and 35 digital advertising tests by its ARS copy testing group, millennials don’t respond to ads like older generations.

Younger people have always tuned out TV ads more than others according to ComScore who have more than five decades of research on the subject. However, even though they respond less, they tend to remember them longer. They are less likely to recall an ad immediately after being exposed to it, compared to a 43%-54% margin of boomers and seniors ad recall capacity. Three days later, 24% of millennials remembered the ad compared to only 18% of seniors. This may be due to the fading memories of older people.

The findings in regards to millennials prove to be surprisingly similar to those of older generations, with the biggest differences found in relationship to digital advertising. Their research proved that the biggest influencers found effective for all generations in TV ads are brand differentiation, competitive comparisons, information about new products or features and superiority claims. Actually showing the product and the brand/logo for an extended amount of time was also found efficient. Not surprisingly, the study found that millennials are more in engaged in all kinds of media than older generations. When asked how much value they place on a program or website, millennials had engagement scores that were on average 10.3% ahead of boomers for TV programming, and an even bigger 22.2% gap over boomers on digital media.

Millennials respond to characters that are relatable to them and their life stage. Creative visuals like special effects, unexpected visual elements captures their their attention. According to Nielsen, there are certain gender divides among millennials advertisers should account for. In television advertising, males typically relate better to “normal” guys placed in extreme or exaggerated situations. Women have a more aspirational approach and like happy situations featuring a woman they would aspire to be more appealing.   For Millennial males, extreme, off-beat and sports-related situations resonate in TV advertising. They tend to be more action-oriented, and competitive scenes and extreme images are visuals to which the average millennial male responds. For Millennial females, aspirational themes resonate strongly. They are appealed to images of strong, female celebrities in fun, high energy situation fostering a level of emotional connection.

In order to create highly memorable ads, humor is among the most effective characteristics. Males prefer slapstick, edgy and sarcastic humor, while women resonate with silly, off-beat humor that’s not mean-spirited.

Advertising on Facebook

Social media has become one of the most desirable ways to advertise. Not only can you target specifically, but you can welcome feedback, respond immediately, communicate directly with consumers, encourage instant purchases and edit campaigns in real time.

Facebook has continued to increase the number of advertisements on their platform and currently have more than one million companies advertising on their site daily.

A survey of 571 millennials conducted by Texas A&M University revealed that millennials prefer online coupons and side-panel ads. Some other findings: Millennials do not like pop-up advertising, and graphics are highly effective in grabbing their attention. Millennials will repeatedly visit a website that has competitive prices and good shipping rates. If given an incentive, such as a discount or reward, Millennials will write an online product review. Millennials prefer quality over quantity.

Marketing to Women

Millennial women are the newest generation of mothers. Many are career professionals while venturing into motherhood. They are currently the prime target audience for everything from cars to furniture to financial services. The most effective way to attract the millennial women is to appeal to their belief that they can change the world. Millennials are generally tolerant, optimistic and looking to be inspired. They like to think big and a brand that is able to align their product to a bigger idea is likely to get their business. A company that has tapped into this is the show brands TOMS, who donate a pair of shoes to needy children for every pair a customer buys. In addition they feature an ecommerce platform on their website that features goods from 30 socially conscious, mission-driven entrepreneurs. TOMS is widely popular among millennials because it speaks to their core value: change the world.

In terms of household, millennials have ignited a shift in what is expected from kitchen appliances. The cleaning brand Method produces eco-friendly, high design household cleaning products that people display on their counters like art work. Thinking visually and focusing on design has become an expectation for millennials. They naturally share pictures of things they want to buy and other things they find interesting or inspiring. Pinterest is one of the most popular picture sharing sites among women. The result is that good design is now a differentiator in every category and price point. Egg-shaped lip balms from Eos, fashionable trash cans from Umbra and Kleenex’ innovative tissue boxes have garnered success from this consumer target.

The concept of great design applies to brands websites, retail locations, call center experiences and apps as well. Millennials expect customer interfaces to be intuitive, mobile friendly and well designed.

Design is no longer viewed as separate and distinct from the marketing function. Millennial women are the burgeoning epicenter of brand influence. They keep relationships with their parents close and share brand preferences. This is a marked difference from earlier generations who did not think that using the same brands as their parents was cool.

Starbucks has tapped into this by catering kid-friendly products so that mothers are able to share their favorite brand experiences with their children.

If a brand is able to scale their products to appeal to a larger demographic this may be beneficial to the female millennial influencer.

How to target the Millennial Mom



A large part of the millennials are currently settling down into a family environment and female millennials are starting to immerse into motherhood. The growing market has a huge potential for companies that want to establish a relationship with consumers likely to have more than one child in the future. Naturally, these consumers want products that are comfortable and safe for their children, but they also care about design and how the products fit into their life. Being digitally savvy, they typically spend a lot of time scrutinizing online ratings and reviews, scouring forums, analyzing comparison charts and cross referencing recall databases. Research from Media Post reports that 52% of moms feel overwhelmed by the experience of buying baby products in the first year of parenthood. Motherhood comes with an additional 10 hours of parenting responsibilities and although some online communities have found ways to share information, there are significant opportunities for brands to facilitate and improve this experience.

Executive editor at BabyCenter recommends the following three actions be implemented:

Streamlining shopping: easy to use shopping tools such as side-by-side comparison charts for similar offerings in your product line, and provide clear, concise information that won’t add to her confusion. Use out-of-the-box photos and demo videos to make the products relevant to her.

Connect her with other moms: research shows that 73% of moms rely on product recommendations from parenting social media. Posts from other moms are 55% more influential than posts from a brand. Social media amplifies word-of-mouth, and represents opportunities to recruit powerful ambassadors for your brand. Make it as easy as possible to share feedback about the products, and encourage them to read what others are saying.

Find her at retailers: after researching online, she is likely to visit a retailer. Studies show that moms are 38% likely to use retailers apps to check product reviews while they are in the store. They are also 65% more likely to pay attention to a brand’s ad if it includes a coupon which part of the reason is why 78% of moms follow brands on social media.

For a marketer it is not just about offering good and safe products, but to facilitate and help moms to make them feel confident in the decisions they make.


You can read more about advertising to millennials and see my sources here. These findings are based on a report from Nielsen