Key Learnings

  • Millennials now make up a significant proportion of the UK and US population so it's worth considering how you can tailor your offering and marketing to them
  • Appeal to millennials by being authentic, showing your sustainability credentials and take time to build a relationship with them
  • Don't be afraid to show your personality and relax your communications with millennials - they appreciate informal and humourous replies - though of course, take care that you're still providing a great service to them!
Sean Purcell (1)

Sean Purcell - Business Growth Strategist, Coach, Consultant and Author of 'MillenniALL'  

Millennials now make up a third of the UK population and are a major contributor to the economy both in terms of their productivity and their spending power. Sean Purcell, author of 'MillenniALL' offers his advice on marketing to this group of consumers.

Before offering any advice on how to appeal to the millennial generation, it’s important to clarify what we mean when we say millennial. There are, confusingly, various classifications but the one we’re using here is from the Goldman Sachs definition, which is anyone who is born between 1980 and 2000. It might seem a little broad, but many generation segmentations usually span across 15-20 years.

In 2020, millennials will be one of the largest generational cohorts within the UK and the US, which significantly impacts business, politics and society.

Arguably, millennials are given a hard time by the media – they’re often referred to as narcissistic, entitled and self-centred. Yet generations before have all had their fair share of criticism so it is fair to say that it is just under media scrutiny because of the growing size of the generation. In fact, research suggests that the millennial generation is confident, aware, considerate, tolerant and full of creativity.

The millennial audience

Marketing to this audience is quite different from the traditional marketing methods that we’re used to using. Before going into detail about this, you need to understand a little more about the shopping and consumption habits of this generation.

Millennials respond to a more informal style of marketing than generations before them and one of their main channels for purchasing is social media. This is particularly relevant to B2C businesses but B2B businesses should also pay attention.

Let’s delve into the key characteristics of this generation:

  • You’ll find this group has little to no savings, and they don’t tend to own or use credit cards
  • When purchasing a product or service, social responsibility and environmental friendliness are at the forefront of the millennial shopper’s mind
  • Although they are heavily influenced by social media, when it comes to purchasing, millennials tend to follow their instinct or ask their peers
  • When it comes to money, they like to deal with people and brands that they know, trust and find authentic
  • Once a purchase is made, millennials will stay loyal to brands who offer them value and great customer service

What are the brands that effectively market to millennials?

So now we understand the consumption habits of the millennial generation a little better, what are the brands that show exemplary marketing when it comes to this group of shoppers?

According to Statista, Netflix is the brand most favoured by millennials because, like the factors we’ve covered, it’s a brand that offers value, provides great customer service and offers a low price in comparison to its competitors. The simple premise that Netflix operates on is: why would you want to spend money buying individual films and shows, when you can have unlimited streaming of thousands of films and shows, for a fixed monthly fee where no commitment is required? This is a very similar approach taken by the millennial generation’s second most favourite brand, Spotify.

Brands that have a very informal tone when communicating to their audience are also particularly popular with millennials. Take a quick check of the social media accounts of Netflix for example, Twitter in particular, and you’ll see the light-hearted, jokey tone they use with followers in order to engage. For example:

Screenshot of Netflix UK & Ireland Twitter reply 23 Dec 19

Netflix is infamous for their quirky, unofficial tone on social media which attracts hordes of likes and comments from users. The informal, fun brand voice is exactly what millennials respond well to. The younger side of the millennial generation also engage with satire, dark humour and brands that have an honest narrative.

The brands that got it wrong

A recent campaign that drew attraction for all the wrong reasons was Pepsi’s ‘Live for Now’ campaign featuring the celebrity and Kardashian family member, Kendall Jenner. The ad features Jenner walking up to protesters and police officers, handing them a can of Pepsi and everyone cheering. What was supposed to be an empowering advert, actually came across as tone-deaf and was accused of trivialising the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

Obviously, there are limitations to making sweeping generalisations about any generational group. One of the main limitations is understanding the different salary bands within this group. Of course, those with a larger salary will have different spending habits to those on the lower end of the salary scale, meaning that those with more disposable income will possibly spend their cash on designer/high-end brands.

Although it can take a few tries to effectively engage millennial shoppers, when executed correctly, this group of shoppers will stay loyal to their most trusted brands, offering long-term value to businesses who get it right.

Sean Purcell is a Business Growth Strategist, Coach, Consultant and Author of 'MillenniALL. How To Claim Your Future In The Age Of The Millennial.' Find out more at


Contributed by Sean Purcell
Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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