Last week we took a look at the impact millennials are having in the workforce, where they are now dominant. This week I promised we’d look at their rise as customers. And more specifically, what this means for your business.

Before that it’s worth a quick primer on why this is important. Here’s Jamie Gailewicz of Bailey Brand Consulting:

To sell to any audience, you have to understand it. Discovering how its members think, act, and purchase is only the first step to finding new opportunities to engage with them.

That should be 101 for most businesses – but it’s also sometimes the first thing a company forgets. So let’s see how it relates to our old friend, the millennial…

Millennials are highly digital

  • Millennials are more likely to be early adopters of technology, creating impact for ‘traditional media’. Millennials are already deserting radio and TV in droves.
  • They have more choice than ever before – here’s Randall Beard, president of global information and measurement company Nielsen… “Millennials consume media differently than their older counterparts, exercising greater control over when and where they watch, listen and read content — and on which device”
  • A digital first lifestyle means social opinions heavily influence purchase decisions – 84% of millennials are influenced by social as opposed to only 59% influenced by friends

Leading Social for Millennials

Key Question: Is your digital and mobile strategy focused on the right platforms and generating positive social currency (referrals and recommendations)

Impact on retail

  • Millennials are a nightmare for traditional retailers, using mobile to frequently compare product information, reviews, and price comparisons
  • Amazon is a pretty reliable digital bellwether. They added a bar code scanner/price comparison tool to their app four years ago.
  • Making the impact worse for trad retail, Nielsen reports Amazon the third most shopped retailer in the US, behind only physical behemoths Walmart #1 and Target.
  • 85% of millennials in the UK have purchased online in the last month.
  • 43% of millennials check for coupons or promotions on their smartphones
  • Mobile engagement is turning millennials into a generation focused on brands offering the maximum convenience at the lowest cost

Key Questions:  How does your bricks and mortar strategy align to your digital strategy? Is your value proposition successfully articulated and understood by millennials focused on comparison shopping?


  • Interestingly, millennials are the most trusting generation when it comes to advertising
  • To cut through the noise of multiple platforms and choice (and achieve the respect of millennials) marketing efforts (along with products and services) need substance and authenticity
  • This is achieved through ongoing engagement, adding value to millennials’ lives
  • Relevancy in making your brand ‘their own’ is an important component to sustaining a relationship
  • A warning though, if something doesn’t resonate, or is oversold, chances are they won’t engage

Key Question: Does your brand engage and value millennials? 

Where it starts to get really interesting Access not ownership

  • Otherwise known as disruption of dominant models, this is where a number of start ups focus
  • Access not ownership means Uber for Cars, Spotify for music, AirBnb for accommodation… etc etc
  • No less an expert than economist Jeremy Rifkin predicts “25 years from now, car sharing will be the norm, and car ownership an anomaly”

Key Question: How can your business model evolve to embrace access economy rather than ownership? Or more simply if you dont disrupt yourself then someone else will.

Key Takeaways:

Here’s Jamie Gailewicz again – “This group (millennials) will challenge, expect more, and desire a better idea for how to live. Ignoring them may well lead to the demise of your brand”

The good news is, even if millennials clearly have different traits to the generations before them, success in marketing to them still looks a lot like:

Marketing is solving customers problems, driving engagement, experience, and revenue.


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