Marketing to millennials

By now it’s highly likely that you’ve seen Simon Sinek’s viral video on millennials. If you haven’t you should probably watch it. Sinek shares great insights into the millennial generation (born roughly after 1984) and suggests millennials are marked by how they were raised, impatience, technology addiction and their environment.

If millennials make up a sizeable chunk of your customer base, then it’s worth putting some thought into how you can effectively reach them – marketing to millennials requires a different approach especially given their unique generational traits.


One of the key discussion points in the Sinek’s video is the millennial addiction to technology. Digital should probably be one of your heaviest channels if you’re marketing to this segment. The thing about millennials though is they’re seriously tech savvy / digital natives, so it’s not enough to just be on social media or have an app; you really have to do it well. Remember, they’re the first generation to grow up attached to their smart phones.

Millennials are impatient, so filling their news feed with content they don’t find interesting or relevant is going to have you unfollowed stat. Similarly, they don’t have the patience for clunky websites or apps. Laters!

Millennials download apps for everything; every store they shop at, everything they watch and everything they listen to. They want to be more connected and want everything delivered easier and faster. Consider your business’ app or website and how it would affect their experience. How quickly can they find what they want? How many steps does it take to place an order? Is it a fluid user experience (i.e. does it navigate like an Apple product with intuitive placement)? “Our website is great!” I hear you say, but put it on a tablet in front of a 19 year old and their opinion might surprise you.


Don’t. Research has indicated traditional advertising doesn’t work on millennials. They’re exceptional multitaskers who take in huge amounts of information all day, every day. They want to be in control of what they do and don’t see, and if they feel like they’re being ‘sold’ to, they’ll simply filter it out.

According to Nora Barnes, Head of Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts, “Millennials are looking for information before they make purchases, but they’re looking for it from their trusted sources, and their trusted sources are not the manufacturers or providers of products. They tend to be people in their social networks”.

The research indicates word of mouth drives most of their purchasing behaviour. Millennials use a collective filter, predominantly supported by social media, to make their decisions. They communicate with one another far more than any advertising campaign, so how can you use these habits to reach them?


Once a millennial decides to follow a brand, they want to be rewarded for their follows and their likes. They expect to be up to date with the latest information, special offers, discounts and incentives.

If you get your content right, millennials are huge sharers. So if you make them feel valued by giving them something of worth they’ll likely share the hell out of it. Create a sense of community around your brand, and when community members see good content they’ll share it with their own.

Content really is king when it comes to millennials and the more creative, the better. Research in 2015 conducted by Elite Daily and Forbes found 60% of the millennials said they’re often or always loyal to brands they currently purchase. The sooner you build a relationship and deep connection with millennials, the better because they’ll continue to purchase from you as an adult.


You need to be authentic to build loyalty and trust with millennials; they need to feel they know you before they’ll trust you. They want brands to interact with them in a transparent and authentic way. They want to feel like they are dealing with people rather than faceless profit making corporations.

Millennials are moved by authentic messages and genuine interactions, not flashy ads and banners. The thing about social media is you can’t hide; millennials know you can see if they have liked, commented or messaged you. So respond! Timely! Show them you care and value what they have to say.

The best thing your business can do to engage millennials authentically is be passionate about what you do and what you’re selling. Demonstrate to them you’re more concerned with providing something of value than just trying to make fast money.

All in all, what millennials really want is connectivity and shareability. So look to your brand’s marketing efforts with these two filters in mind, and you might find some new ways to engage this tech savvy, impatient bunch of consumers.

At Cuckoo, we love strategy. We’re massive tech nerds and research is in our blood! So get in touch if you’d like to better understand and engage your millennial audience.