Millennials have become the target generation. Everyone is trying to attract them, but no one can seem to figure out how. And that’s because Millennials think as no other generation did before.

Once upon a time, the Baby Boomers were the target market of every business. They wanted a good product and good customer service and if you could provide that to them, you tended to be okay. Millennials think differently.


What are Millennials?

Pew Research defines Millennials as anyone born between the years of 1981 and 1996. It’s important to take into consideration what Pew Research’s definition of a Millennial because a lot of the data in market research is based on previous data points established by Pew Research.

While birth dates are the technical definition of a Millennial, there’s a lot more you need to consider. You need to look at what helped shape a Millennial.

Most Millennials were raised by members of the Baby Boomer generation. Many grew up as technology was growing by leaps and bounds and access to the internet was becoming more and more commonplace. They had cell phones before they were out of college.

Their young lives were shaped by horrible tragedies including the 9/11 terror attacks and the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado. This generation was made acutely aware of the concept of global warming and how it is impacting our world. Those feelings and emotions have shaped how this generation was raised and how it responds to what is happening in the world around them.

It’s a mixing pot that’s difficult to decipher, but there are some things that a majority of Millennials have in common.

1. Immediacy

Because most Millennials were raised with the internet in their houses and cell phones in their hands, the world cannot move fast enough for them. This is a generation that is used to Googling an answer rather than looking it up in an Encyclopedia, or worse and a library card catalog. Millennials have never folded a paper map, they use Google Maps to find their way to their next destination. The Yellow Pages are a website, not a massive book of phone numbers.

In other words, information needs to be available at the click of a mouse or a tap of the finger. You need to cater to this immediacy if you want to gain access to Millennial customers.

2. Customer Service

This need for immediacy rolls right into the next thing a Millennial needs — customer service. In May 2013, Time Magazine’s cover story was The Me Me Me Generation. It delved into why Millennials are, for lack of a better term, narcissists.

“They got this way partly because, in the 1970s, people wanted to improve kids’ chances of success by instilling self-esteem. It turns out that self-esteem is great for getting a job or hooking up at a bar but not so great for keeping a job or a relationship. ‘It was an honest mistake,’ says Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State University and the editor of Self-Esteem: The Puzzle of Low Self-Regard. ‘The early findings showed that, indeed, kids with high self-esteem did better in school and were less likely to be in various kinds of trouble. It’s just that we’ve learned later that self-esteem is a result, not a cause.’ The problem is that when people try to boost self-esteem, they accidentally boost narcissism instead.”

And that’s just a small look at the article!

Here’s the point. For better or worse, Millennials are all about themselves. If you want to tap into that market, then you have to make it all about them too. I’m not talking about Millennials as a generation, I’m talking about each Millennial individually.

You need to set up your email marketing to address them by name. Plus need to create invoices that specifically thank that person, by name, for their service. Then need to remember what they like and don’t like.

Millennials are a lot of work, but they’re also well worth the effort.

3. Experience

Unlike any other marketing, for Millennials it’s not about what they get in the end, but the journey that it took to get them there. Part of this probably has to do with the me me me aspect of the generation. For the Millennial, it’s all about sharing and posting and tweeting and Instagramming and…well you get the picture. It’s about sharing the experience with the world, whether or not anyone is listening.

That’s why Millennials are willing to camp out outside of an Apple store before the release of a new iPhone or travel halfway across New York City to stand in line for a cronut. It’s about the experience and the adventure of it all.

You have the opportunity to make their shopping experience just that, an experience.

4. Be Honest

Millennials want honesty. According to Hubspot, “Millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts, who happen to be strangers, than advertisements and 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites.”

Be honest with your customers about the benefits of your product. Tell them what makes you a credible source of information. Establish yourself as an honest and transparent company and you’ll go far. If you’re unable to do that, find someone who is honest and transparent to tell your story for you.

5. Be Socially Aware

This is one that goes against the norm but can pay big dividends in the end. The reason why a brand like Patagonia is so successful is that it has a cause. The shoe brand Toms has grown in popularity over the years because it is willing to take a stand on social and environmental issues. Nowadays, it’s not enough to have a quality product, you also have to have a purpose.

Do not be afraid to choose a cause that you feel strongly about, especially if it is in line with your core customer base.

None of these are guaranteed to make Millennials flock to your company, but if marketed correctly, they can make them take notice. Millennials are a loyal bunch, so if you can figure out how to make them notice you and follow you, you stand a good chance of gaining a customer for life. If you need some tips on building sales funnels, check out this blog post

Written by Erika Towne