What defines a millennial?

Born between 1981 and 1996, millennials, also known as Generation Y, have long held the attention of marketers as well as the ire of their seniors. Born into and growing up in the digital age has made millennials extremely different from any generation before them.

Millennials are a generation where all members are now active in the job market, meaning their spending power will only increase from here-on-out.

The media has long described millennials as a lazy generation, yet in reality, they have become extremely self-sufficient, a by-product of the internet and a world where they don't have to rely on others for information or to ask questions.

We also describe millennials as being a confident group who are happy to question authority, while also being ever-curious about the world around them.

The conscious generation

Marketers, perhaps unfairly, label millennials as the first generation to truly care about themselves, the world around them, and the world they leave behind when they're gone.

Typically, we see that Gen Y want to feel like their purchases make an impact on the lives of others as well as their own. Research shows that 91% of millennials prefer to purchase from brands associated with a good cause. They also look for transparency within companies that display social and environmental responsibility. With this in mind, having your business support a good cause is the perfect way to provide that little bit more of an incentive when targeting Gen Y, your good cause is a selling point in itself and you should be spending the time to leverage it on social media where your millennial market will lap it up.

Millennials like to research things, a possible by-product of being born around the same time as the internet. The conscious millennial mindset extends beyond being eco-warriors and champions of things being right; they also want to look after themselves. As millennials have come of age they spend more time online. For example, they research the benefits of natural organic foods as well as the impact of production and delivery on the environment before committing to purchases. Because of this, we are seeing increasingly emerging trends such as the wellness food market, which is expected to be valued at £890billion by the end of this year.

Millennialsthe conscious generation

Cultivating relationships

As we all should know, crafting meaningful relationships with consumers is essential for creating retention and eventually, loyalty. When it comes to millennial marketing, this is particularly true. Cultivating relationships with millennials by engaging with them as a peer highlights your expertise, while also making you appear more trustworthy within a consumer's eyes.

Millennials, in particular, want their voices to be heard by companies, this fosters a bond with them that is beneficial to your business. Give them a platform where they can talk to you and make an effort to engage with them on a personal level.

Cultivating meaningful relationships is likely to pay dividends over time. Not only will they be more likely to become a loyal customer, but they will also create user-generated content that your business can recycle. Furthermore, research from Uhuru network indicates that 42% of millennials express an interest in assisting with future product development for their favourite companies.

Cultivating Relationships Millennial's

The experience generation

Millennials display significantly differing purchasing habits compared to other generations. They prioritise using their purchasing power for memorable experiences and reinforcing their social identity, unlike generations before them, who saw the prospect of going out shopping as an errand.

Millennials like to juggle the activity of going to physical stores with activities such as grabbing lunch and spending time with their friends.

Reinforcing this, 49% of Millennials see brick-and-mortar shopping as a social activity.

Furthermore, the social and engaging aspects of shopping mean that 78% of millennials would rather spend their money on experiences as opposed to physical goods.

When they do make product purchases, they prefer to use online mediums to make them, due to the process of online shopping offering a quicker, more user-friendly experience. We also know that even when in-store, upon finding something they like, millennials will go online and check reviews as well as compare prices, to see if they can find the product they want at a lower price.

When marketing physical products to millennials, there are a couple of techniques you should bear in mind to resonate with them. Millennials will require more than just simple features and benefits of the product. Instead, they'll want to know why they should buy your product. To combat this you should be focusing ads targeting millennials at the experience around using your product. Similarly, you should be doing everything in your power to offer benefits to others. Philanthropy cannot be a side conversation as the conscious millennial will also ask how buying your product can benefit others.


Millennials were the first generation to be deemed as being digital natives as well as the first mobile generation. As such, it should be of no real surprise to hear that they spend a lot of their time on mobile. They spend more time on their mobile than all other devices combined. A staggering 97% of the millennial generation reports owning a smartphone and identify mobile as being their most important device. With this in mind, your business needs to ensure that it's website is mobile optimised, or even better, mobile-first.

As more and more businesses optimise their sites for mobile experiences we are finding that with quick loading times, and clear calls to action need to be prioritised. Millennials are finding the information they find on mobile sites as being just as informative as that found on desktop sites. Google also reports that 89% of millennials will recommend a brands website to family and friends if they have a positive experience on the brand's mobile site.


As digital natives, Millennials have wholeheartedly embraced social media sharing everything on their platforms while growing up. For the most part, they favour Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with Instagram, in particular, being hugely popular amongst younger Millennials. Just about every business has a presence on social platforms in 2019. When exploring brands, the general reflex of the millennial generation is to do so via social media and are "hungry for brand education via social channels". Some would even say that social is the new SEO and platforms drive "the most significant amount of traffic back to brands and publishers".

  • To leverage social media when targeting Millennials brands need to adopt a thorough well-thought-out strategy.
  • You need to choose the right platforms for your business and be present, helpful and engaged with your target audience.
  • You should also integrate the rest of your business with social. You should be using social media follow icons, like and share buttons, widgets for your social feed, click-to-tweet text highlights, and one-click sign-ins.
  • Landing pages and apps should also be a prominent feature.
Millennials and social media

Inter segmentation

One of the big problems with generational marketing is the idea of defining a group of individuals born within a certain timeframe as having a single shared set of traits and values. None have fallen victim to single-minded stereotypes quite like millennials, with preceding generations defining them as being selfish, entitled, and lazy. As businesses, we should view this as being incredibly reductive.


BCG defines hip-ennials as a group who firmly believe they can have a positive impact on the world around them. They are idealists who consume information regularly, leading them to be aware of what's going on in the world and give generously to charities. On social media, we find that hip-ennials do indeed use the platforms and read social content, but they don't tend to produce content of their own that often. BCG also informs us that hip-ennials are a group predominantly made up of underemployed students and homemakers.

Millennial mums

The second segmented group that BCG gives us is millennial mums, a group that generally possesses a high-income, despite being of a relatively young age. They are a group described as being confident within themselves, family-oriented and technologically proficient. They enjoy travelling and getting into shape while also being keen to have a voice and engage with content on social platforms. More often than not they are a group who care about themselves first and foremost while their daily routines can lead to a feeling of isolation from peer groups.

Gadget guru

The third group identified by BCG is the gadget-guru. Picture an individual that loves minimalism. Their wardrobe dominated by white, black and hues of grey. They spend their free time on the weekends in the local Apple store, bugging the genius bar with whimsical queries, or at Starbucks, berating a barista for not getting their Grande half-decaf, 5 shot, almond milk, sugar-free vanilla and toffee nut wet latte quite right before returning to their table and furiously typing a review on their iPad Pro. This, my friends, is the gadget guru. BCG defines the gadget-guru as being highly egotistical, wired, free-spirited and living in a world of their own. They are a group dominated by mostly single males.


The Clean-and-Green millennial is the fourth segmented group. They are independent and self-directed, yet also quite impressionable. They are the greatest contributor to social media content amongst millennials and use it to voice their support for philanthropic causes. They read books rather than blogs, prefer to meet in person rather than talk online and are very charitable. They are a group comprised of males and females in equal measure.

Old-school millennial

The Old-school millennial is defined by BCG as typically being the older members of the millennial generation. They spend the least amount of time online but also display similar traits as hip-ennials and clean-and-green millennials. Just like them, they tend to be extremely charitable and green. While also being confident, independent and self-directed.


Finally, the Anti-millennial is the final group identified by BCG. They are described as being driven by their family and their business, an unusual trait amongst millennials who tend to desire a healthy work-life balance. They are also locally-minded and conservative, preferring comfort and familiarity over-excitement and change. They are distinctly different from other groups in the sense that they will not spend more on green products and services like most millennials.

Back to blog