Marketing to Millennial Generation Demands Sophisticated Strategies

Ready or not, the Millennial Generation is coming of age. How should companies market to this age group? A business professor at Southern offers some suggestions.

Much has been written about the Millennial Generation — those who were born roughly between 1980 and 2000. We plan to talk about some of the trends of the Millennials – also known as Generation Y -- in future posts. But one aspect of this generation that hasn’t garnered as much discussion as some of the other characteristics is its consumer tendencies.

Mel Prince, professor of marketing at Southern, says this generation is more “cosmopolitan” than others. By cosmopolitan, he means that the kids of today see themselves as “citizens of the world” more than in the past. Strictly speaking, of course, there are no citizens of the world. People are citizens of a particular country, or in some cases, more than one country. We are inhabitants of the world.

And Millennials – like those of previous generations -- do identify themselves in this country as Americans. Nevertheless, they tend to see things through more of a global lens than do other generations, according to many experts. The consensus thus far is that they also place more of an emphasis on global issues than previous generations and are more likely to accept and participate in a diversity of cultural activities. They enjoy sampling life in a variety of neighborhoods throughout America and in communities around the globe.

And that interaction includes eating and shopping at establishments that are authentically from other cultures, rather than chain restaurants or retail operations.

Prince suggests that businesses should consider this trend when marketing to this new generation.

He offers the following recommendations:

  • Use high tech media as never before. Sure, the world has embraced the use of Facebook, Twitter, the Internet and other forms of advanced technological communication devices. But it is intertwined in the lives of Millennials in an unparalleled way. If you want to communicate with the Millennials, use of social media is more than just important -- it’s critical.
  • Stress authenticity of products. Just as they prefer the “real deal” in consumerism when traveling abroad, Millennials also have more of an allegiance to independently-owned businesses at home.
  • Emphasize sustainability in business motives. Putting aside the cultural debate on the cause of climate change, today’s youth seem to be more concerned about the potential consequences than in past generations. They tend to place more value in businesses that highlight respect for the condition of the planet.
  • Employ urban cosmopolitan atmospheres in advertising messages. Generally speaking, Millennials seem to embrace life in the cities more than those of the Baby Boom Generation or Generation X. Therefore, it can be helpful to use cosmopolitan themes and stress the big city atmosphere when marketing to Millennials.
  • Use sophisticated brand messages that reflect increased cultural capital of this generation. Millennials are generally more comfortable and more attuned with the cultures of other races, ethnicities and nations. This sophistication should be represented in any marketing campaign toward Millennials.


Question to Millennials and non-Millennials alike: What are your thoughts and experiences pertaining to the new generation in the work place? Are they appreciably different from Baby Boomers and Gen Xers? If so, how?

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Jim G. March 27, 2013 at 11:37 PM
I thought it was pretty clear, but the humor seems to have missed the mark. You are predicting "a boom in gun buying" that has been well underway and well publicized sine the first news reports about Sandy Hook hit the airwaves. I was making an equally retroactive "prediction."
Joel March 27, 2013 at 11:44 PM
Jim G. Insensitive stupidy must be your strong point. Or possibly pomposity.
Joel March 27, 2013 at 11:46 PM
Jim G. Humor must not be your strong point... Just a guess.
Jim G. March 27, 2013 at 11:47 PM
@Mike: Of course you can grow your own tomatoes - but I prefer fresh or fresh-pack tomatoes to sauce any day. :) I'm not quite sure what you mean by that, though. (A couple of hours ago I wrote a reply that had a possible answer, but the system hiccupped when I posted it and I can't remember the gist now...) Can you give me something clearer to respond to? @Joel: Very perceptive. (Seriously.) Of course I'm part of the same system and influenced in the same ways. I always thought I was a "smart consumer" like many (rightly or wrongly) do, but over the last ten years or so I've come to see the problem from an entirely different viewpoint, some basics of which I'm trying to talk about here. Am I some sort of perfect anti-consumer? No way. Am I working on it? You bet. On a scale you wouldn't believe. :)
J D C March 28, 2013 at 03:43 AM
Now that seems to be an accurate fact Joel. Yeah I wasn't trying to sound like I knew more than everybody else in the room there Jimmy, as I clearly stated, I was just saying what nobody else seemed to want to. And as I haven't seen any data on gun sales in Newtown, nor have I wanted to, I clearly stated, or so I thought I did, it wasn't a belated "prediction", it was a spot on fact, like I said it would be. So thank you for verifying me.
Bob Loblaw March 28, 2013 at 07:20 AM
I think you two are arguing over a comment made on the wrong article?? Talk about a train gone off the tracks
jane March 28, 2013 at 10:04 AM
I wouls never have believed that a short article on marketing to the Gen M would have created such a stream of comments although most of them are not about marketing. I just want to say this. As a baby boomer I couldn't be more proud of the generations following mine. They are more tolerant of the world around them, they care more about our earth, they see equality as a Right, not a Moral Dilemma, and they're smart, incredibly smart. I confidently put my trust in them to carry this country forward by embracing change, encouraging tolerance, and caring about the global world we live in.
J D C March 28, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Train wreck your right. I meant to respond to a comment two days ago about the robo calls but it wasn't in the reply space. Then again I thought it was the mods job to moderate?
SuperDave March 28, 2013 at 12:46 PM
Daniella would rather join the 47% and get a handout and complain, instead of working hard to make a better life. Sounds like she hates America. Please leave. And take all the whiny "victims" with you. I am sure there is a nice socialistic country out there that would welcome your twisted logic.
Sandra March 28, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Common Sense- I never asked for a bailout. I was raised to work for what I wanted. At 14 my father said if you want new clothes -get a job! and so I did. It was the best thing my father ever did for me. Personal responsibility and hard work seems to be getting lost these days. I find immigrants appreciate the greatness of our country way more than those born here.
Boggs March 28, 2013 at 01:21 PM
what 47% are you talking about, the tens of millions or retirees who paid into social security their whole lives, and are now collection? More Teapublican Bull!
Jim G. March 28, 2013 at 01:30 PM
And you made such a good point above I thought there was hope for you, Chip. @JDC: Maybe you missed the point that this topic, and discussion, didn't have anything to do with Newtown, guns, robocalls or the NRA. If you're the one who goes off on a tangent and then can't take a little gentle humor about it, you're definitely in the... oh, wait, this is Patch ...right place.
Common Sense March 28, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Sandra re-read your original post... and reconsider your most recent one. You specifically asked if 'her husband is going to bail out my child's debt'...
Sandra March 28, 2013 at 01:55 PM
CS-I stand corrected. I did not mean "my" child. However when everyone starts thinking the other guy is getting some free ride then we all want something for free. It's human nature.
Jim G. March 28, 2013 at 02:54 PM
@Sandra and CS: Maybe the point is that the whole road is the wrong one - the notion that you have to get a $200k college education to get a 'good job and fat paycheck' so that you can pay off that education cost is a pretty nonsensical loop. You can choose a lower *cost* life and not have to expend it working just to pay for it all. There's more to life than every dime you can possibly earn and spend.
Eric T Gray March 28, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Jim G - I've got a great education... AS from Naugatuck Valley and a BS from WSCU... graduated in 2001 and my last year at WCSU was paid for by the company I interned at and subsequently went on board full time. So my education was paid for by me and it was extremely affordable and I didn't owe a dime when I graduated. If you actually read my posts here, you'd see that I am not looking to spend every cent I earn. I am looking to save for my family's future but its expensive around this area and so its difficult to do... With this being said, and since I'm not sure if your being helpful or condesending how about this... why don't you take the 2 cents you want to spend on me and save them for someone else. Enjoy your day.
J D C March 28, 2013 at 06:19 PM
You know what if you read my previous post you would have seen I myself said I posted in the wrong place. As far as calling you names, I apologize to the forum and for lowering myself, you apparently STILL dont think you insulted anyone with your Bubba remark and that's just weak.
Jim G. March 28, 2013 at 06:37 PM
What "Bubba remark" was that?
Jim G. March 28, 2013 at 06:40 PM
As I have both kids and colleagues in "Gen M," I wouldn't disagree. My hope is that they are smart, perceptive and strong enough to tell "marketing" to go fold itself up a rope and quit trying to get them to spend their lives spending.
J D C March 28, 2013 at 06:51 PM
Oh, my bad your not the one that made the Bubba remark, wrong forum.
Joel March 28, 2013 at 07:32 PM
This is to Jim G. You better hurry so you are not late for your next class professor. As to your lecture series here on the Patch, I will be dropping out. The next time I see a post on the Patch under your moniker, I will know that it is a bucket load of drivel offered up by a self important, intellectual pinhead. That is something with which I have a problem. This is Chip signing off... Oh, and if this post is in the wrong place maybe we can find another, more appropriate spot for it. I have one in mind. My apologies to others here who seriously want to discuss this topic.
J D C March 28, 2013 at 07:43 PM
Joel, for a dumb guy that was quite eloquent............Kudo's sir lol
Waterford Rez March 28, 2013 at 07:55 PM
Jim, it's Marketing 101. Very simple. Focus on the group who you believe will be most interested in you product. Generations are much to large even as a focus group. Who do you think Nike focus on?Apple? Viagra? AARP? The Gap? Flip through you TV channels, notice what commercials come on when and where (programing). Look through the newspaper, ponder the add placements and time of year. It is really a simple concept. To do the opposite would only ensure failure. It's not a conspiracy, it is simple, basic advertising strategies.
Jim G. March 28, 2013 at 08:11 PM
@WR: I know the "how," and the general justifications for it (from the business perspective, at least.) I'm questioning the "why."
Daniella Ruiz March 30, 2013 at 06:42 PM
jane, this series of comments speaks volumes regarding how people market themselves, their appraisal of their strengths and eagerness to point out other's weakness. as another poster mentioned, a basic variety of products are created to meet the 'needs' of the obviously wide variety of personalities demonstrated herein. what can be learned from this? other than becoming a politician with tounge-speak that defies characterization based on absolutes, this is just what the marketers seek, the very homey banter from which they garner attitudes and trends, with which to plan their next years styles and models. they are listening and reading.
Jim G. March 30, 2013 at 06:56 PM
You are absolutely right, Chip. Discussion on Patch must never, ever be allowed to rise above all participants repeating what they're listening to on AM radio and agreeing with each other. I mean, even hinting that you might know something someone else doesn't is just intellectual snobbery. So, by all means, continue your good work to hold it down to sixth-grade level around here.
Jim G. March 30, 2013 at 06:59 PM
Oh, and JDC... for a poster who had the wrong thread, then the wrong comment, then the wrong commenter with his posts... I think you might want to sit quiet and take lessons from Chip before you post any more.
Sean M March 31, 2013 at 02:22 AM
What does Bush have to do with any of this? He was no where near a conservative, especially on economic issues.
Bob Loblaw March 31, 2013 at 04:34 AM
Sometimes I think someone could wright a blog about liking sunshine and people would argue about it... how sad
J D C March 31, 2013 at 12:20 PM
Happy Easter to everyone and your families!


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