Advertising Millennials Youth Culture

Marketing to Millennials 101

By Posted 5 August 2016

We can’t say it enough – Marketing to millennials is hard. We’re a savvy bunch; the best educated generation yet and the only one to have lived most of our lives with the all the answers just a click away. Plus, we’ve seen Mad Men. We know the game you’re playing, and we won’t be taken in by pretty pictures and three word catchphrases.

The thing that really sets the millennial consumer apart from generations past is the ability to interact with companies on a personal level. This means that to get our attention, you need to get in amongst it. We want to be engaged with, not talked at.

We expect more from companies than our parents did and if you won’t give us what we want, we’ll find it somewhere else. Ours is a generation defined by the overwhelming abundance of choice.

Here are some handy dos and don’ts to ensure that millennials opt for your brand:


  • Hang out with us. Move in our circles. Get yourself a Facebook, a Twitter, an Instagram, Snapchat and Youtube. Be where we are. We spend a lot of time on our phones and computers. So get on our phones and computers.


  • TALK TO US while you’re there. Be funny, be wise, be weird. Millennials don’t follow a brand on social media just to be kept in the loop about the latest products. They identify with the brand’s personality and want to be identified with it. This is also a killer word-of-mouth advertising opportunity with millennials liking, retweeting, sharing and otherwise disseminating the posts that amuse them. Free advertising, who doesn’t love that?


  • Create content, not just advertising. We want to be engaged. We want to laugh, cringe and snort. We want to learn something new and connect with interesting people and new ideas. Use Youtube to give tutorials (Mac does a great job of this with make-up application how-tos, and Wool and the Gang have great knitting tutorials (yes, knitting) that definitely got me to order way more rope than I will ever find the time to use, even if I decide to kidnap a small family).


  • Advertise LIVING, not BUYING. We don’t care about your product. We care about how it’s going to make life more enjoyable for us. Appeal to our sense of hedonism, not avarice.
  • Use clever advertising. We’re a smart bunch (we even know what ‘hedonism’ and ‘avarice’ means) and we don’t want to be patronised.


  • Create authentic content. We trust testimony. Use us in your advertising by incorporating testimonials, reviews, videos and photos that we send in.


  • Be political. Be feminist. Be LGBTQ friendly. Be progressive. We are.


  • Empower us. We don’t need more brands telling us that we aren’t good enough or that we need to change. Dove’s great at this (after, admittedly, a bit of a rough start with the ‘Real Beauty’ campaign). It now has a wildly successful #MyBeautyMySay promotion, with the lead commercial having been viewed over 12 million times.


  • Do good for the Earth. Millennials aren’t exactly thrilled by what the Boomers and Gen X have done to our planet, and we aren’t super stoked to have to fix all of the mistakes in the coming years. So give us a hand. Millennials appreciate companies that give back. Consider a carbon offset scheme or donations to charity. Or get even more creative – Myer has started a Give Registry to help women leaving domestic violence situations. For every donation you make, Myer will make one too. This kind of topical, politically aware altruism is highly valued by millennials who often want to do something but don’t quite know how. Tell them how.


  • Be aspirational, not middling. Don’t tell us what to do.


  • Speak our language. If you’re advertising makeup and you don’t understand what ‘eyebrows on fleek’ means, you have a problem.


  • Personalise your advertising to us.


  • Target social groups, not life stages. Millennials live nontraditional lifestyles and aren’t interested in keeping track of life hurdles like marriage, homeownership, kids, etc. At this rate, it’s looking likely that we’ll never afford a house. But also, almost half of millennials don’t even consider buying property a priority. Our age does not define us, but our social groups do.


  • Look for a niche, but don’t alienate people.


  • Don’t rely too heavily on traditional advertising like magazine ads, direct mail campaigns, TV commercials, radio spots or banner advertising/internet advertising. I mean, use them, sure. But keep in mind that these forms of advertising are impersonal and company-focussed and traditionally one-way forms of communication.


  • Don’t try to be a cool mum or dad brand. Parents aren’t cool, full stop. Oh and it’s worth noting that most millennials are adults, we’re not exactly in need of further parenting.


  • Don’t try too hard. Everyone hates the kid that tries too hard.

The Raiders understand millennials and can help make sure your brand is chosen by them as often as Ash chooses Pikachu. Hit us up.

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