Why Millennials?
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Why Millennials?

Why Millennials?

The advertising eye of Sauron has been fixed on the Millennials lately…but why?
The Millennials are the biggest generation – exceeding even the Baby Boomer generation in size (77 million Baby Boomers, 82 million Millennials [US population is 312,511,989]) and Millenials could be the most different generation because of their upbringing and the amount of technology they have grown up with – meaning marketing to them successfully could require a lot of change.

So Who Are They?

  • Born mid-1980’s through the mid-1990’s (though some say Millennials could be born as early as 1976 and as late as 2000)
  • On course to becoming the most educated generation in American history
  • They’re waiting to get married. In 2010 only one-in-five Millennials were married
  • Millennials respect their elders, saying older generations have better values, and work ethic, and believe that it’s the adult children’s job to take care of their elders. Millennials also get along with their parents
  • Less religious, more tolerant, more politically liberal
  • Other Names: Echo Boomer, Boomerang Generation, Net Generation, Generation Y, Entitled Generation, Gen Next, “Me” Generation

How Do They Compare to Boomers?

Baby Boomers have been a prime target of marketers for years due to their size and stage of life, but Millennials are worth noticing because of their purchasing power.

Millennials are considered the first “always connected” generation, constantly attached to their cellphones and more likely to utilize social network sites than the two- generation-removed Baby Boomers. 86% of 18-29 year-old’s use social networking sites, only 61% and 47% of those 30-49 and 50-64 do. Because they are so tech savvy, they are more trusting of new technology such as mobile shopping, and are more likely to research products while they’re shopping. They’re also more likely to seek peer affirmation and advice when selecting products than non-Millennials.

Millennials, who grew up in front of the TV, are trading it in for their computers or choosing to watch shows later with DVR’s and On-Demand. Older Boomers are more likely to watch TV than younger Boomers and Millennials.

That doesn’t mean that the Boomers aren’t a tech-savvy bunch though. 84% of young boomers (45-54) and 80% of older boomers (55-64) own cellphones. 66% of them send text messages from their phones compared to 88% of Millennials, and 37% of them have accessed the internet with their cell phones compared to 55% of Millennials.

Both Baby Boomers and Millenials use e-mail, search engines, read news online and check ratings and reviews online (Millennials at a slightly higher frequency).

Boomer’s are almost as likely to own computers, access internet daily, own mobile phones, DVRs, digital cameras and GPS as Millennials – and Boomer’s are actually spending more than Millennials on technology including telecom fees, gadget and device spending and online spending.

Baby Boomer’s also have the money. Even in this tough economy, 57% of the top 5% of household incomes belong to Baby Boomers (take home an average of $306,000/yr), and 46 million Baby Boomer households rake in nearly half of ALL US consumer income (adding up to about $4 trillion). These Boomers in the top income households are spending less than 2/3 of their incomes, too (no wonder Millennials are boomeranging).

Millennials are staying in school longer, living with their parents or unmarried partners, and delaying having children in light of the economic times and changing attitudes about marriage and parenting. Unemployment is the highest among Millennials – almost 15% of those 20-24.

What Does It Mean for Marketers?

Millennials are a different beast, they grew up learning not to trust marketing and advertising, but it’s a regular and almost accepted part of their lives. Millennials can be very brand loyal and have high expectations for products and services as well as the ethics and morality of the companies they do business with. They grew up in a time when many families were financially fruitful, so they are used to having the things that they want, and also influencing the purchasing power of their parents and friends.

So why are they receiving so much attention from marketers? Even with the highest rate of unemployment, Millennials last year represented buying power around $306 million in 2010, and are destined to be the most powerful consumer group ever known.

Because they are so different from other generations, it’s important for companies to learn about them, monitor their habits and behaviors, and start to cater and converse with them.

What Do We Know About Marketing to Millennials

Some things we know:

  1. They like to be heard – They have high expectations for communication and want companies to know what they want
  2. They value authentic and socially responsible companies – Companies that “walk their talk” such as Starbucks, Ikea, and Kashi are popular among Millennials
  3. They are price and value conscious – They research, price shop, use coupons
  4. They are interested in experiences – Doing rather than having. They also have a tendency to view the products they buy as an expression of themselves

There is no real shortage of data about Millennials, perhaps because they rely on technology so much and are so open about talking to themselves (they’re called the “Me” Generation for a reason). When it comes to marketing to Millennials, many companies simply need to listen and respond accordingly.

Does your company target Millennials? Leave a comment and tell us about any successes or difficulties you’ve encountered.


Francese, Peter. “Stat of the Day: The Need for a New Baby Boom.” 17 Aug 2011. AdAge. http://adage.com/article/adagestat/baby-boomers-millennial-moms-boost-recovery/229295/.


Lesonsky, Rieva. “The New Baby Boom Generation: How to Profit From It.” 5 Oct 2011. Small Business Trends. http://smallbiztrends.com/2011/10/new-baby-boom-generation-millennials.html.

Pew Research Center. Millennials A Portrait of Generation Next. 2010.

Synder Bulik, Beth. “Boomers — Yes, Boomers — Spend the Most on Tech.” 11 Oct 2010. AdAge. http://adage.com/article/digital/consumer-electronics-baby-boomers-spend-tech/146391/.

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