Millennials: Marketing to America’s Largest Generation

A Background on Millennials (Gen Y)

Millennials are a hot topic right now. The word alone can stir up conversation among a group. Especially a group favoring the negative connotations often associated with the generation. These reasons are exactly why we know it is important to talk about them.

Considering our office here at Hyperchat Social is full of millennials, we have a pretty good grasp of the generation's interests, motivators, and goals. Of course, not all millennials share the same interests and things that motivate them, but we will speak in general terms.

Definition of Millennial

"Millennials, also known as Generation Y or the Net Generation, are the demographic cohort that directly follows Generation X. The term Millennials is usually considered to apply to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century" (

Determining the exact year range that groups together those who reached adulthood at the turn of the 21st century isn't exactly a cookie cutter task. Many sources differ on what year range defines millennials. If you were to ask five random people what year range defines the millennial generation, I'm sure each person would provide a different answer! That's because online sources don't provide the same information and often differ from each other. One source, such as Pew Research Center, claims millennials were born between the years 1982 and 1996. The College Investor claims millennials age between 18-35 and were born between the years 1982 and 2002. If you were to ask me, I would tell you that millennials are born between the years of 1980 and 1995, and that's because I read that online somewhere. Point being, online research won't give you a clear cut answer to how old millennials are.

Authors of the 1991 book titled Generations: The History of America's Future, 1584 to 2069, Neil Howe and William Strauss are often credited for coining the term millennial, so we think it's safe to choose the year range they have delegated to the Millennial generation, which is 1982-2004.

Coining the Term Millennial

As difficult as it is to nail down the age range of Millennials, it's safe to argue that determining the characteristics of the millennial generation is just as challenging, if not more so. The term Millennial was coined by the duo Neil Howe and William Strauss, as touched on before. From it's beginning, the term "millennial" took on new meanings as time passed. The term was first used to indicate the "looming apocalypse." It then evolved into the phrase "millennial thinking," referring to the increased interests in computer technology (The Atlantic). Leading up to the year 2000, everyone was a millennial—anticipating the new century and the uncertainty that came with it.

When the term millennial was first applied to a specific group of people, it wasn't the only suggestion as a name for the post-1980 babies. Suggestions ranged from "echo-boomers," "baby boomlet," and the "Tamagotchi Generation" (The Atlantic). Therefore, when Howe and Strauss included the term in their book in 1991, they hoped the term would stick. Based on today's use of the word millennial, we think it did more than simply "stick."

The Millennial's Influence on Society Today

Currently, there are approximately 80 million Millennials in the U.S., making them the largest generation today and nearly one-fourth of the total U.S. Population (HubSpot). If that isn't enough to convince you of the importance in marketing to millennials, consider this: their annual buying power is $200 billion, making them the most lucrative market. Now we've got your attention, right?

As a business owner, it's imperative that you tap in to the opportunity available to you in the millennial market. Do you know what interests them, what motivates them, what they look for when supporting a business/brand? If you don't, keep reading.

What Makes a Millennial Tick

Millennials are so affluent in social media because social platforms are where they find the kind of content they can trust. The blogs they read, the videos they watch, the posts they share - they engage with this content because it resonates with them. They feel the content's authenticity. Pinning, tweeting, sharing, liking - these actions don't describe buying actions per se, but they posses a strong indirect relationship to the buying process you want your clients participating in. Once a millennial feels they can relate with, engage with, and share about your company, only then will they take the next step into the buying process.

So what must you do to catch their attention? Provide content that they will engage with. This means talking about topics they relate to, sharing graphics that catch their eye, and posting on the platforms that they are on. All the while using the Millennial language.

How To Speak the Millennial Language: Outbound vs. Inbound Marketing

Millennials as a whole are anything but traditional, so why would traditional marketing tactics work for them? They don't. The outdated techniques of outbound marketing such as magazine ads and radio spots do not impress Millennials. That cool pop-up ad you just installed on your new website? Yeah, that's outbound marketing. Millennials think pop-ups are disruptive and annoying. Millennials like to make their own choices, not only in their personal life, but on the internet as well. So forcing an ad in their face is only going to turn them away. Millennials want to feel connected and involved in the decisions they make - that includes the purchase of your product or service.

How to Connect Millennials with Your Business

The modern marketing tactic is called inbound marketing. This includes eBooks, blogs, whitepapers, and how-to tutorials. Think about it like this:

Suppose Samantha is super in to make up and loves staying up to date with the newest trends and brands. She finds a company's YouTube channel where they host numerous how-to tutorials. She spends countless hours on this channel each week, mastering her look. The flip side of this scenario could be that Samantha gets a makeup catalog in the mail. It displays all the new make up the company has to offer. The catalog may be beautiful and show off the company's products well. It may even include some helpful tips here and there.

But ultimately, which of the two is Samantha going to share with a friend? Definitely the YouTube video. That's because Samantha trusts the how-to video. If Samantha wants to know how these products work and if she can trust them, she is going to turn to the internet in search of product tutorials or customer reviews. The first marketing tactic eliminates the time taken looking through a catalog that Samantha is ultimately going to deem worthless.

If you want your business to connect with Millennials (and yes, you do want this) your business needs to participate in the marketing tactics that millennials are involved in. We are not saying that your business needs to make a YouTube channel tonight, but we definitely recommend your company make room in the budget for inbound marketing. A blog is usually the best way to start.

Blogs Suited for the Millennial Audience

A blog that is suited for the Millennial audience is one that will cater to them. You want your blog content to be relatable, emotional, and specific. Millennials are emotional, so tapping in to their emotions will make an impact on them. Of course your content needs to be relatable so that a Millennial will want to read the topic in the first place. Your blog also needs to target a specific audience. Targeting Millennials as a whole is a very vague approach. Your blog as a whole can be geared towards millennials, but each individual post needs to relate to as specific a group as possible.

Apart from the written content of your blog, your blog also needs to cater to millennials aesthetically. Including photos in your blog of things that millennials relate with, like pictures of individuals in their age group, will draw their attention. If a millennial sees a picture of people that look like them, paired with a title they relate with, they're going to click. Titles that millennials relate with are ones that imply how your post can help them better understand a certain topic.

You always want to make sure your blog is social media friendly, too. Since Millennials are deeply involved in social media, it's important to give them the option to share your blog. If they enjoy reading your blog, you want to make it easy for them to post it and share it with friends. You can give them this option by having sharable links on your blog, leading to each social media platform.

Blog Topics

I took a poll in the office here at Hyperchat Social, since we are all millennials, to see what blog topics we often read about. Here are my findings:

  1. Lifestyle
  2. Health & Wellness
  3. Travel
  4. Reality TV/Media
  5. Fashion
  6. Parenting
  7. How-To's
  8. Cooking/Recipes

In Conclusion

Considering the millennial generation has the largest buying power, it is imperative your business know how to market to them. Inbound marketing tactics, like blogs, videos, and eBooks are some of the best ways to reach the millennial audience. Creating a blog for your business is a great first step, and also fairly easy to do, so we recommend starting with that type of inbound marketing. Don't forget to include social tags, sharable links, and relatable content! You will have millennial consumers in no time.

If you want to step up your social media game, try Hyperchat Social. Schedule a demo with us today!


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