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3 Ways to Effectively Market to Millennials

3 Ways to Effectively Market to Millennials

Everyone wants an enjoyable online browsing and purchasing experience, and that includes younger consumers who make up an ever-growing demographic of those with buying power.

The days of labeling Millennials as tight with their purse strings seems to be waning as they are all fully steeped in the workforce by now. The next generation, Generation Z, is already entering higher ed and the beginning years in the job market.

As a result, marketers have to keep up with current trends and look to the future of marketing in a Millennial world. This means allowing them to take the reins on their marketing and purchasing decisions.

Here are a few ways to effectively market to Millennials today using some real-life examples:


Let’s say you’re getting married and live in the city. You probably already have many of the kitchen gadgets you need and don’t necessarily want people to buy you endless amounts of china and crystal that simply sit in your cabinets unused for most of the year. This is where a brand like ThirstyNest has dialed in their marketing.

Stemming from her own experience, ThirstyNest founder Jacqueline Strum founded a company for engaged couples to register for things that create memories rather than accumulate a bunch of “stuff.”

“By registering for alcohol and bar gear, individuals are actually receiving the experience of being able to celebrate their married lives over a glass of fine wine,” according to this article on Forbes. “And with millennials purchasing 42% of all wine sold in the U.S. last year, this helps millennials register for things that actually fit their current desires. After all, no one really wants another casserole dish.”

By personalizing their own experiences online, engaged couples put their own spin on the wedding registry in a way that is unique to them and their lifestyle. Alcohol, of course, isn’t the only way to a millennial’s heart, but as a marketer you get the idea of how to cater to couples with specific desires and needs, and customize your products to that demographic.

Social Media

Social media isn’t going away; it’s just evolving. Millennials are a connected generation and have been for much of their lives. The same old marketing tricks don’t work as well as they used to.

Enter Sprinkles Cupcakes: Yes, they post delicious photos of their cupcakes, but they aren’t trying to sell you them in a direct way or by being over-engaging and annoying. Yet they’ve developed a loyal following.

“Social media is key for Sprinkles since we do not employ traditional advertising,” VP of Marketing Nicole Schwartz told Content Boost. “We have wonderful followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram who not only share our posts, but go to our Cupcake ATM and create original content to share with their friends.”

Sprinkles doesn’t shy away from offering free baked goods to fans either. The other day, during National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week, Sprinkles offered one free chocolate chip cookie with the purchase of one of their cookie cupcakes, limit one per guest and while supplies lasted. One of their fans posted a mouth-watering photo of the cupcake and cookie with the caption: ”My wife got hers. She’s a happy camper!”

Who doesn’t want free stuff? When you develop a following of loyal fans, you get back more than you are ever giving away. Part of the process is doing market research, which means knowing who your customers are and what they need. Since customers are always changing, so will your marketing efforts.

Millennials want to know that a brand’s content was created with their interest in mind. When they are organically introduced to your content, they are more likely to purchase your products or services.

Mobile Marketing

Digital trends publications have predicted that 6.1 billion people will be using smartphones by 2020, which is 70 percent of the world’s population. The mobile marketing trend continues to grow, with mobile being the most dominant screen among Millennials.

As a result, advertisers are jumping on opportunities to connect mobile users to their brand. With a single tap on the screen, consumers can easily order products, call a company, pay bills or simply be entertained. It’s viewed as the perfect channel for brands to reach whoever, wherever and whenever they want.

A few years ago, IKEA home furnishings came up with an app to help people select products for their home without having to take measurements or even leave the house. Thanks to augmented reality, you just need the app on a smartphone or tablet.

So, if you’re not sure if that red couch is going to fit in your living room or if it will look weird, you can virtually place products in your room with IKEA’s interactive catalog. A creative approach to buying furniture gives IKEA a marketing edge over its competitors. The newest app by the Swedish company is called IKEA Place, and is a major improvement over a similar app they had a few years ago.

To wrap up, there are about 80 million Millennials in the U.S. today, which is nearly one-fourth of the total population. Their annual buying power hovers around $200 billion, making them the most lucrative market. In all of your current marketing efforts, do you think you’re understanding what motivates and engages this generation? Marketing to Millennials will endure for years to come because of where they are coming from.

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by Devin Morrissey // Devin has been a dishwasher, a business owner, and everything in between. He writes from his garage, occasionally rising to experiment on his friends' cars or do jumping jacks for no reason.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.