Marketing to Millennials, Is it Worthwhile?

Numerous young people posed in front of a brick wall

In any marketing communications, knowing your demographics is essential.
Are you marketing to Millennials? Find out who they are and how to reach them.

Here’s my perspective; I’m 28. According to the rough grouping of 18-34 year olds as Millennials, I guess I’m one of them. I was one of the first Americans to grow up with a cell phone. (I got mine when I was 16, shortly after my first car accident.) I was one of the first kids in school to have the internet at home, compliments of my parents’ business.

Marketers have been able to reach me in all the traditional ways they’ve been doing for years, for generations. Add to that that Millennials are seeing marketing communications via Twitter, Facebook, and myriads of other ways not available to our parents at our age. There are new rules for the four Ps.

Poor marketers thought that they would have this golden opportunity to market to 18-34 year olds as they started spending. But everything changed in the recent “financial crisis” or “great recession” as it’s been called. Millennials were hardest hit. Careers stalled as young people graduated with record levels of education debt and no job openings for them to fill.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek 24% of my generation
have had to move back home with their parents at least once.
(I did this at 19, no fun. Love you mom!)

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that many Millennials have grown up entitled. They have only seen their parents with a nice home and nice car. They have this idea that they should be able to have these things as soon as they graduate, move out, or get married. But this isn’t possible or practical for most.

Businessweek shared several insightful statistics on how spending has been cut by Millennials:

  • Those saying they can’t afford basic necessities are at 23%!
  • Twenty two percent have put off having a baby.
  • 20% put off marriage (whoops, I didn’t get that memo).
  • An impressive 45% have reduced driving (opposed to 24% of those 55+).
  • Nearly 40% go without health insurance.

I’d be hesitant to sell to Generation Y-ers as 20% have $10,000 or more
on credit cards and only 42% of us pay on time!

Who’s Hurting?

Movie studios, clothing retailers, and home improvement chains are hard hit by the 68% drop in real net worth of households below age 35 (from 1984 to 2009). Who will go see the summer blockbusters? Gap and Abercrombie expect us to be spending big right now. Home Depot sees the waiting for marriage, having kids, and house buying as a stalling in household formation. Car makers have tried to cater to us with the Scion and Element (ahem… ugly!) without success.

Millennials are harder to reach despite the multi-channel marketing campaigns. This generation has endless information and choices. We’re pickier and less brand loyal. Millennials want to buy less and do more. They want a few quality, authentic products from companies that do good.

Who’s Winning over Millennials?

Style is important; 25 to 34 year olds spend 8% MORE on clothes than those 35 to 44, even though they earn 22% less! If you offer trend right, but timeless quality and style – Millennials will spend. Social media, mobile shopping, and merchandise designed around locales and lifestyles popular with their age group are necessary.

Luxury brands are offering lower-priced goods to build brand awareness with Millennials. Those that shop at Gap today may trade up to Nordstrom, Saks, etc. Brands that stay relevant and are patient will eventually win over this tough crowd.

What say you? Do you market to Millennials?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


Are you a Millennial looking for a new place to shop? Check out these DIRJournal listings:

These are only a sampling of some of the most popular categories. To see more shopping listings, go to Shopping.


Check out these listings, or do a search for the particular location you’re interested in.

Written by
Terra L. Fletcher
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