As the first generation raised online, millennials set the stage for digital commerce as we know it today. And while they might not be as flush with cash as the baby boomers or as trendy as Gen Z, they’ve quietly grown up, started families, and taken over the workforce…
… Someone should probably check on them.
But marketers who have kept their finger on the millennial pulse know they’re alive and well. And as the world’s first generation of social media influencers, brands can tap into a seasoned group of content creators who have spent years nurturing engaged communities that are ready to buy.
What defines a millennial?
Most agree that a millennial must be born between 1981 and 1996, but the exact age range slightly varies.
What do millennials value?
With some in their mid-20s and others entering their 40s, millennials represent one of the most diverse generations when it comes to interests, priorities, and economic status. That said, there are several values that they nearly all share.
Millennials want to hear from real people with real opinions, not institutions pushing a narrative. When it comes to marketing, millennials prefer to take advice from someone who actually uses the product and believes in its benefits. But brands that use these tactics should be upfront about them so as not to seem deceptive.
“The millennial consumer thinks about transparency and credibility as more top-of-mind brand values than others. Some millennial consumers care about formal authority sources, but many are skeptical as they are aware that some brands pay for those formal authority sources.”
Durable, long-lasting products
Buyers worldwide are beginning to prioritize purchasing longer-lasting products, and millennials are leading the charge. As a result, 63% of millennial consumers say they purchased a well-made, luxury item in 2021 compared to 46% of Gen X and 18% of baby boomers.
Millennials pay more attention to sustainability than any other generation. Roughly 50% of millennials say sustainable practices are a must, followed by Gen Z at 38%. This creates an interesting opportunity for retail brands to experiment with resale—an industry expected to double between 2022 and 2025.
Despite a growing emphasis on sustainability, millennials still crave convenience. Roughly 67% say they would pay at least $10 for same-day delivery, while 81% claim an unacceptable delivery experience would affect their decision to order from a company in the future.
Contrary to popular belief, many people actually don’t mind sharing their data with companies—especially millennials. The younger generations are far more likely to give up their data than their older counterparts if it means a company will have a better chance of anticipating their needs.
Why should brands care about millennials?
The largest generation
Millennials recently overtook baby boomers for the largest share of the U.S. population.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Millennials – 73.2 million
- Baby boomers – 70.4 million
- Gen Z – 67.8 million
- Gen X – 65.2 million
- Gen A (youngest) – 36.7 million
- The silent generation (oldest) – 21.7 million
A dominant workforce
Not only are there more millennials in the U.S. than ever before, but there are also more in the workforce than ever before. Researchers predict that by 2025, millennials will make up 75% of all working adults.
Most time spent online
Millennials spend more time online (7.5 hours per day) than any other generation and purchase an average of 15 products from the internet annually. Additionally, most millennials (77%) say they spend time researching products online.
The most diverse generation
Today, more than 44% of millennials identify as a minority. This means markers have a chance to market to a variety of people with different backgrounds and experiences. It also means brands should invite as many different voices and perspectives as possible into the strategic process of their marketing campaigns.
A mix of in-store and online shopping
Millennials are the most balanced generation when it comes to shopping preferences. A recent survey revealed that 38% of millennials still prefer to shop in-store, 32% would rather shop online, and 30% want a combination. This gives marketers plenty of options when deciding the best way to reach them.
Millennial online trends to watch out for
Social video over streaming video
Social video isn’t close to challenging streaming services for viewers yet, but that could soon change. According to Deloitte’s March 2022 Digital Media Trends survey, 60% of millennials spend more time with user-generated video than streaming services—more than any other generation. Gen Z is next at 47%, followed by Gen X at 45%.
Facebook usage is declining across the board. In fact, the only group seeing meaningful growth on the platform is seniors, who expect to add about 1 million new users by the end of the year.
Alternatively, experts predict about 1 million Facebook users between the ages of 24 and 35 will leave the platform by the end of 2022. And those who stay won’t be nearly as active as they were in the past.
Roughly 70% of millennials say they use social media as a source for product information, and Pinterest has capitalized as well as anyone. The platform recently rolled out several new social commerce features, including augmented reality and an in-app checkout tool.
Buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) options
As the demand for higher ticket items rises, many millennials have turned to buy-now-pay-later models. Data shows that roughly 30% of digital buyers will use BNPL as a payment method, with roughly one-third of those buyers being millennials.
Less time on social media overall
Millennials are the most likely to claim they’ve started spending less time using social media. As they work to scale back their scrolling, digital marketers must prioritize quick conversions to capitalize on a demographic trying to cut back on screen time.
How to market to millennials
Advertise more than just your products
Millennials want to see more than just the latest and greatest product. They also want to hear about your brand and what makes it special.
As such, companies should take the time to share their brand story and the story of their employees. Doing so will create a human element with which millennials can connect, leading to more long-term relationships.
Offer an experience
Have you ever tried to buy a gift for that person who “doesn’t need any more stuff?” Well, consider that person a millennial.
As sustainability becomes more popular, brands should consider selling an “experience” rather than a product. For example, an outdoor company might primarily focus on selling its customers the idea of returning to nature and having a good time with friends. Meanwhile, the secondary focus can be offering the products that enable them to do so.
Stand for something
A recent study found consumers are four to six times more likely to purchase, protect, and champion purpose-driven companies. As the taboo around companies becoming “too political” starts to fade, brands can (and should) make their voices heard about where they stand on certain social issues.
Implement a mix of social media channels
According to a report from GWI, millennials regularly use about nine different social media channels. Although Instagram and TikTok lead the charge for social commerce, marketers should expand their reach to trending platforms like LinkedIn and Pinterest to diversify their marketing mix.
Create video content
Nothing inspires purchases for millennials on social media like video content. Without physically holding something, video is by far the best way to learn about a product and discover its capabilities. Live video is a bonus because it gives viewers a chance to ask questions in real-time.
How millennials view influencer marketing
Millennials generally aren’t fans of ads—unless they come from their favorite content creators. In fact, nearly 60% say they’re fine with seeing advertisements from influencers they trust when it comes to product recommendations.
Overall, millennials’ attitudes toward influencers are overwhelmingly positive. Roughly 53% say influencers regularly expose them to new and interesting products, while 40% say influencers make them more likely to buy a product. Just 14% of millennials say they don’t interact with influencers at all.
5 millennial influencers to inspire your influencer marketing efforts
Kathryn Kellogg is the founder of Going Zero Waste—a lifestyle website that teaches people to live a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. She is also the National Geographic spokesperson for plastic-free living, the chief sustainability officer at One Movement, and the author of 101 Ways to Go Zero Waste—a book that breaks sustainable living down into an easy, step-by-step process.
Dr. Kendi is a historian and leading antiracist scholar. He is a National Book Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author, a contributor to The Atlantic, and a CBS News racial justice contributor.
Dr. Kendi teaches his followers how to nurture a more inclusive environment for all. He believes that the journey starts from birth and has written multiple children’s books to help guide the younger generation, as well as parenting books like How to Raise an Antiracist.
3. Momma Cusses
@mommacusses No such thing as badwords. Only bad intentions. #mommacusses #momlife #intentionalparenting #responsiveparenting #tiktoktaughtme #tiktokpartner ♬ original sound – Gwenna Laithland
Gwenna Laithland, better known online as “Momma Cusses,” started her channel in 2020 in hopes of normalizing what she calls “modern motherhood” and building a space where moms can connect and feel like a part of a community.
Gwenna keeps her content light and funny with a dash of education. But as a self-proclaimed parenting “unexpert,” she reminds her followers, “there is no such thing as parenting experts—just people with good ideas that may or may not work for you.
CinnamonToastKen’s content is as wholesome as it is hilarious. The dad, gamer, millennial influencer, and good-natured goofball first started posting videos to YouTube in 2011 and has been creating content ever since. If you’re into memes, life hacks, video games, dad jokes, or all of the above, Ken’s channel is the place for you.
As an actress, Jameela Jamil is known for her work on the hit comedy series The Good Place. But she’s just as well known among the activism community for her work to create a safe and radically inclusive space on social media.
Jameela’s I Weigh community introduces followers to new voices, artists, activists, and movements to create a space where people can help change the world together.
Conclusion: Pay close attention to how and where millennials shop to capitalize on today’s most diverse demographic.
Millennials, as it turns out, are doing just fine. And partnering with millennial influencers and content creators who can speak to their unique values and experiences will pay dividends when trying to reach today’s largest and most connected demographic.
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