Selling to Millennials: Inside the Millennial mind

Selling to Millennials: Inside the Millennial mind

To sell to any audience, you must first understand it. “Millennials” may be a buzzword, but for anyone in the marketing game, it’s worth taking notice of.

Don’t laugh at that group of 20-somethings taking selfies, they belong to the major consumer group of Australia’s future, rumoured to have more buying power than the baby boomers and up to 20 per cent more market sway than Generation X.

Millennials are the demographic loosely defined as those born from the early 1980s through to the early 2000s. Put simply, they are the babies of the digital world, where mobile phones, digital TV, 24-hour news and the internet reign supreme. And if you think their eyes are glued to their smart phones, you’d be right: this generation is consumed by media.

This was the first generation to grow up in a digitally networked country and to forge a primary reliance on mobile devices. As digital natives they have used social networking sites their entire adult life to create a sense of belonging and to remain connected with the world around them. They learnt to do their banking online, they invited friends to parties via Facebook and sent their sweethearts MP3s, not mixed tapes. So it shouldn’t come as any surprise their consumer habits are vastly different to the generations that came before them.

Despite the global focus on Millennials, however, businesses are still having a hard time understanding them. This disconnect is most obvious in the way companies market to this generation. Many brands continue to push traditional life markers such as getting married, buying a home and starting a family, because that’s what drove older generations’ purchasing habits. But these brands are completely missing the point.

Millennials are buying, they’re just buying differently and, more importantly, their habits aren’t going to change any time soon.

Smart marketers have realised Millennials is a group to watch. They know they have to be smart if they want to keep up with this generation, whose spending is increasing, but whose attention span is waning – and increasingly so. Have you noticed how McDonald’s re-branded menu and fitout allows customers to create their own burgers, while Coco-Cola has suddenly become an advocate for positive change and healthy progress through its stevia-filled Life product? Have you heard of how hugely-successful US Mexican restaurant-chain Chipotle runs yearly food and music festivals throughout the country incorporating educational elements to show how food is raised and grown?

This is, after all, what many have dubbed “generation me”. They are buying products they can tell others about, and because of what those purchases say about them.

There is a lot at stake for marketers who don’t understand Millennials and who don’t adapt products to fit the realities of today’s market. Many feel connecting with Millennials is extremely difficult. After all, they are known for their lack of brand loyalty. Nonetheless, getting this generation on board is not as difficult as you may think.

Millennials appreciate creative ways of brand engagement that fit in with their online behaviours and with their greater social convictions. Baking Business asked some of the industry’s leading social media and online marketers to find out what makes this generation tick, and how to make sure you’re getting a piece of this trillion dollar pie.

Millennials are guided by happiness, passion, diversity, sharing and discovery. They have high expectations for corporate social responsibility to make the world a better place, and are particularly driven by green initiatives that support environmental sustainability. Give them something to believe in and they’ll quickly switch from brands that do nothing.

“Support causes that are important to Millennials. Take the food movement for example, they love things like organic farms, small batch jams and artisanal cheese. This is seeing power shift from large mass market companies and brands to “the little guy” selling online or at the local corner store,” food and agriculture reporter for NPR Beth Hoffman said.

The idea of ‘one size does fits all’ does not ring true for this demographic. This is a group that has always been known for valuing uniqueness and individuality, so embrace the trend of co-creation by giving users the option to customise their product and to have control over their user experience. Gelato Messina’s build-your-own dessert bar concept is a shining example of how to market to this mindset.

“Creating a different flavour experience every time you come in, who doesn’t love that?” Messina’s head chef Donato Toce said.

Millennials expect businesses to have an online presence, particularly in the food game. If they don’t have a website or social media, they might as well not exist.

According to N2 Extreme Gelato founder Min Chai – who has cultivated a devoted Instagram audience of around 60,000 followers, social media the cheapest and easiest way to advocate your brand’s integrity.

“In our industry, Instagram and Facebook are the key social media platforms to be on, with a lesser focus on Twitter. Some say Snapchat is the platform to watch, but we haven’t looked into how that could work yet. Whatever you use, your customers want to see you’re trying new things and having fun,” he said.

Millennials don’t mind advertising, in fact, they appreciate clever ads. But if the message doesn’t provide something of use it will quickly be forgotten. This group likes to be treated professionally. They aren’t fans of gimmicks and they quickly see through thinly veiled marketing ploys.

“Be genuine and let your audience understand what you’re about and what you stand for,” Brasserie Bread founder and director Michael Klausen said.

Create great content. While this strategy applies to all generations, it’s particularly pertinent for Millennials. Most in this demographic have never known a world without the internet and, as a result, they’re the last group you can expect to simply accept your message on face value.

This means relevancy and engagement have never been more important. If you don’t share your products and services in a meaningful way, you’ll be ignored as part of the inevitable noise of the connected world.

Business writer Sonja Jefferson said today, effective marketing is all about creating high quality content and sharing this across the web.

“We don’t just mean information that is well-written or artfully produced but rather information that is of real value to your client base. Educate your clients, show them best practice, tell them what to look out for, give them valuable tips on how to achieve success, demonstrate how you’ve helped others in their shoes; answer their problems, open their eyes,” she said.

Millennials want to be part of the conversation, not simply spoken to. Where many businesses are failing today is they are not listening to the conversations Millennails are having about their products or their company. It’s also important to communicate on a personal level.

“Create a two-way dialogue with your audience and give them the opportunity to speak directly to your brand. Whether you let them rate your products, publish comments, or share experiences with friends, providing a forum to be a part of the conversation is essential,” Min said.

Marketing to Millennials doesn’t have to be hard, but to be heard, you must learn to speak their language. By rocking your mobile marketing, targeting social groups instead of life stages and being relevant and engaging, you’ll definitely make a splash with this demographic. To be put in touch with a social media expert email the editor at

Click here to upload your own recipe

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *