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What Marketers Get Wrong About Millennials

4 mins read

Trying to generalize Millennials can get messy. After all, the term refers to anyone “reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century.” By that definition, everyone born from 1980 through 2000 could be lumped into this group. That’s a lot of people, so we need to be careful when making bold statements about who they are and how they act.

At the same time, we can’t ignore the massive changes and innovations that have taken place over in the last few decades – the internet, smartphones, social media, the “sharing economy,” and so on. It’s safe to say that people who came of age during the information revolution see things differently. Advertisers should certainly pay attention to these shifts.

Unfortunately, a lot of them are missing the mark. Instead of trying to understand critical changes to the buyer journey, they make superficial changes to appeal to millennials – opening every possible social media account, making a couple of YouTube videos, and throwing in some emojis for good measure.

via r/fellowkids pic.twitter.com/CunQgpce50
— Brands Saying Bae (@BrandsSayingBae) January 29, 2016


Often, the changes go a bit deeper than just some new slang. Let’s take a look at what research really tells us about Millennial buyers.

The Trend: Millennials tend to do online research before making a big purchase.

Millennials have less disposable income and more access to information than previous generations. The result? Many of them spend a bit more time researching their buying decisions – learning about features, comparing prices, reading reviews, and so on.

The Mistake: Not putting enough information online.

In today’s world, the whole buyer journey – from discovering a brand through to making a purchase – can take place without a customer ever talking directly with a company. While many businesses prefer the in-person sales pitch, you can lose trust if you play your cards too close to your chest. Transparency and helpful content can win the day with buyers who often compare a few options before settling on a brand.

The Trend: Millennials are more likely to make impulse decisions.

Millennials tend to do a lot of research at first, but that doesn’t mean they take their time once they land on a trusted brand. The ease of online shopping can make it very easy to make impulsive purchases. Trusted e-commerce channels like Amazon and Etsy have benefited significantly from this trend.

The Mistake: Missing upsell opportunities.

If a buyer chooses to buy something some you, this increases the odds that they’re willing to buy something else from you – an upgrade, an add-on trinket, or higher volume for a discounted price. That’s why smart e-commerce vendors recommend additional products to customers based on their interests and past purchases.

Reaching out to current and past customer has always been a good marketing strategy. However, in an age where impulse buys are on the rise, it’s even more critical.

The Trend: Millennials communicate with brands through social media.

The popularity of websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for consumers is easy to understand. Social media Business profiles give buyers updates about your brand, reviews from other customers, and a way to send inquiries. Social media is also a great place for people to get recommendations from friends, family, and trusted content sources.

The Mistake: Ignoring your social media presence.

Needls is in the business of social media advertising, so we’re big advocates of this one. The stats on this subject speak for themselves:

Are Millennial Buyers Really That Different?

Let’s face it – across every age group, times are a-changin’.

These trends are driven by technology and economic changes, not magic fairy dust sprinkled on every young adult. Tech-savvy folks of any age may be more likely to shop online, research products, and use social media to connect with brands.  Even if “millennials” don’t currently make up your target market, building a powerful online presence is a good idea for almost all businesses today.


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