Advertising To Millennials: Effectively Target The New Generation Of Consumers

By azfar on December 29, 2016

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advertising to millennials

If you’re paying any attention to the current market, odds are you’ve already know that millennials are already the largest generation in the world.

With ever-growing purchasing power, they are the next big market to advertise to. But along with it comes new challenges – Millennials are just not into traditional advertising.

The good news is, advertising to millennials is easy once you understand millennials characteristics, especially when it comes to being a consumer.

Millennials Marketing Characteristics

Understanding how millennials characteristics as a consumer is key in understanding how to effectively advertise to them.

While they tend to reject interruptive and blatant approach, if you manage to get into their circle of comfort, millennials can even end up as brand advocates you don’t even have to put into payroll.

Here’s how millennials behave as consumers in general:

1. Look Up To Individuals Instead Of Brands

millennials look up to independent content producers

Instead of mainstream brands or celebrities, millennials look up to independent content producers. (Hey is that a Razer headset?)

Millennials look up and trust “individuals” or “the underdogs” more than they trust brands.

See how famous YouTubers, Bloggers and Twitter celebrities started from the average everyday person and launched into stardom.

2. Reject Traditional Ads

millennials tend to reject intrusive ads

The popularity of adblock use among millennials are clear sign of rejecting ads. Even if you manage to bypass adblocks, they’ll take matter into their own hands and campaign against you.

Traditional marketing methods like interruptive ads tends to be ignored by millennials.

Persistence can even lead them to actively avoid and campaigning against your brand.

Research shows that millennials aren’t interested in broadly targeted ads irrelevant to their current interest and focus.

3. Skeptical

being skeptical are known millennials trait

“Google It” is the millennials motto when verifying a product’s claim.

Most millennial are skeptics. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t, so traditional ads with overblown promises is out of the question.

Born in the height of the online culture, millennials are savvy researchers who will utilize the internet to get neutral ideas and opinions with pros AND cons.

4. Socially-Influenced

millennials are influenced more by their peers they see in their social media feed everyday

If their friends recommend something, you bet a millennial will go after it as soon as they can.

Rather than being influenced by ads, millennial purchasing habits are more influenced by purchases of their peers they see in their social media feeds.

5. Expressive

millennials tend to be quite expressive with their choices

Millennials just love to showcase their choice of purchase to their social media feed.

Millennials also tend to show off things they purchase in the process of shaping their online social identities and getting acceptance from their peers.

6. Anti-Establishment

Millennials values individuality and take pride in going against the mainstream.

Millennials values individuality and take pride in going against the mainstream.

Millennials strongly value freedom of choice, not the immutable word of “The Man” or “Big Corporate”. Again, millennials root for the underdogs as seen with the explosion of new startups and success of crowdfunding culture.

This trend is especially apparent in the hipster subculture, where they have a disdain against what’s mainstream to separate them from the crowd.

7. Short Attention Span

Millennials' short attention span lead them to ignore most ads.

Millennials’ short attention span lead them to ignore most ads.

Short attention span among the average millennials are not merely speculations.

They are well-studied

Due to technology and the abundance of accessible information, millennials tend to put most of their daily stuff into a “save for later” box.

Most of them of course, are forgotten and never revisited again.

How To Advertise To Millennials

If there’s anything we’ve learned from millennials consumer behavior, it’s that they tend to filter contents based on their needs.

To effectively advertise to millennials, we need to show up where and when they are actually looking for it.

Other tips include:

1. Content Product Placements (Blogs, Videos, Tweets etc)

You know how big advertisers are now maximizing the usage of product placements in movies and video games. It’s a similar concept albeit on a lower scale.

Leveraging millennials trust in online celebrities, you can approach popular content producers to get coverage on your brand.

While getting them to verbally endorse your product would be great, just getting featured in their content is good enough.


By getting your products used or mentioned by popular content producers, you can also win the trust of their followers. (Unboxing at 5:10)

Nick, a popular Pokemon Go YouTuber through his channel Trainer Tips for example, list down the gears he used in his videos in the description.

Once in a while he receives items such as power bank, solar charger and even tshirts as a show of support to his channel.

He features and uses them in his daily quest playing and streaming the mobile game.

2.Reviews (Review Blogs, Unboxing Videos, Etc)

Lots of people does reviews for a living. Whether it’s a tech review blog, unboxing videos, food blog or yelp reviewers, all these people can be reached so that they cover your offerings.

Millennials trust the opinion of neutral third party reviewers

Millennials trust the opinion of neutral third party reviewers so make sure to build a good relationship with them.

Again, millennials tend to trust accounts from a third party rather than from the company itself.

One thing to remember here is that reviews are meant to be neutral, meaning it have to include some of the trade-offs of your product.

Which is fine considering where we are going next.

3. Honest Advertising

Speaking about trade-offs, millennials knows that nothing is perfect.

If you only advertise all the good stuff about your offerings, you’ll less likely to be trusted and millennials will scrutinize you for flaws.

Taking pointers from our Honest Marketing post, it’s a good thing to include both the good stuff as well as some of the lackings that your offerings might have.

Be honest to millennials and gain their trust

When you’re open to discuss about your flaws, people will be more open to your strength.

The trick is to identify your target customer and highlighting the flaws that they won’t actually mind.

When you are more open to discussing your flaws, you become more trustworthy to customers, especially millennials.

Millennials put high importance on making informed decisions and the cons are just as important as the pros.

4.Answer Query-Based Sites And Forums

Millennials tend to get unbiased opinion on public query-based sites such as Quora, Yahoo Answers, Reddit or niche-specific forums.

Pay attention to these sites and be prepared to include a favorable answer of your own when questions related to your offering pops up.

Millennials browse query based sites for opinions.

Query-based sites are open to all so don’t forget to include your own comment about the strength and weaknesses of your product.

Also try to Google keywords related to your brand. For example, we might Google for keywords like “seopressor review” or “seopressor feedback” or even things like “best seo tools”.

See if query-based sites are among the results returned by Google and you can also add an opinion based on your honest review of your own product.

Again, don’t oversell your answers and be as neutral as possible, including what your offering lacks or not a central focus of.

It is also a good practice to add a disclaimer to clarify that you own/affiliated with the brand if you’re posting as one.

5.SEO/Content Marketing

Googling is a standard practice for millennials when they want to know just about anything.

Getting your website ranked in relevant questions will make it easier to be discovered by millennials.

Getting your website ranked in relevant questions is a great way to “advertise” to Google-savvy millennials.

You can indirectly advertise to millennials by creating contents answering questions they type into Google.

Optimize the contents and rank it high on the right keywords in search engines and you’ll be sending millennials with interest from Google to your own site.

This is also known as inbound marketing where it is the opposite of traditional “push” marketing. In inbound marketing, you are pulling customers in out of their own interest.

6.Ride Trending Topic

Pay attention on what’s currently trending and jump into the bandwagon as soon as you can.

By creating social media posts and advertisements subtly referencing to the subject, you’ll have a casual and fun way of advertising your products that appeal to millennials.


Nail your advertising to sync with trending topics and you just might get them a chance to be virally distributed by millennials.

Of course, timing is crucial and you need to get it right. You won’t look as cool if the ad you roll out is a week too late or you are using the references in wrong context.

It’s a double-edged strategy so if you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing, you’re better off playing it safe.

If you notice a trending subject starts to get traction, look it up in sites such as KnowYourMeme or the Out Of The Loop subreddit.

Also check out the Fellow Kids subreddit for cautionary tales.

7. Retargeting Ads

Retargeting is an effective advertising method to target millennials, despite some might think that it’s a little bit creepy.

Retargeting sends specific ads that suit to customer's purchasing intent, effectively reminding them in case they forget.

Retargeting sends specific ads that suit to customer’s purchasing intent, effectively reminding them in case they forget.

Basically what it does, is it tracks the visitors browsing your site (people showing interest) but didn’t complete any purchase.

You can then send targeted ads to the individuals through advertising and social networks to remind them.

Because they’ve already shown a sign of interest in the first place, your ads will be much more noticeable.

In cases where they forgot or simply need a little nudge in order to complete a purchase, retargeting ads will work wonders in converting them into customers.

This of course, taking into consideration the short attention span of most millennials.

In Short – Get Past Millennials’ Information Filter

To sum it up, when it comes to making a purchase, millennials won’t just accept what they are told (especially by ads).

Millennials will:

  • Google it first
  • Read reviews
  • Carefully select a neutral source of information
  • Weight-in both pros and cons
  • Ask people online
  • Trust their circle of peers

Advertising to millennials in the end boils down on how creative you are at customizing your marketing strategies to take advantage of these traits.

By getting past these filters, you’ll end up being there the moment millennials are looking for you.

Insanely Honest Marketing Case Study:
Insanely Honest Results

If you think honest marketing is nothing more than shooting yourself in the foot, here's 5 proof to show you How Honest Marketing Give Businesses Real Results!

Updated: 24 September 2017

Azfar Hisham

About Azfar Hisham

A copywriter with previous experience developing computer simulations, managing websites and being the social media guy. Interested in Google Patents, Knowledge Graph and questioning everything.

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