The Age of Millennials

Marketing 2016-01-22

The Age of Millennials, and How This Changes Marketing


Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are those born between 1980 and 2000. Recently hitting 92 million people, they now represent the largest demographic in US history. Most of the Millennial generation will be aged between 18 and 35 in 2016, meaning they have come of age and now represent the group with the strongest spending power. Most interestingly, this is the first generation to grow up with access to the Internet, computers and smartphones and they are therefore referred to as ‘the first digital natives’.



So what will be different about Millennials compared to the previous generation, Generation X? With less disposable income and greater debt (predominantly student loan), we are seeing fewer people in the 18-35 age group owning their own homes and cars and waiting much longer to get married and have children, if at all. During the 1970s in the US, the average age for marriage was 23, compared to an average age of30 in this decade. However, although marriage and home ownership are no longer seen as priorities, young people still have the desire to achieve both.


For us at Notch, the most notable difference as we enter the Millennial generation is how marketing and branding must be adapted to meet the changing needs of new Millennial consumers. For example, Millennials will not take a brand’s claim at face value and buy the product; instead they will want access to more information on the product as well as customer reviews. This means that brands need to provide more in terms of marketing. There must be proof behind their claims and a greater loyalty between the brand and the customer.


As mentioned previously, Millennials are ‘the first digital natives’. With their smartphones they can find any information about a product or brand at the touch of a finger. The use of social media has become a large deciding factor for this generation, with 34% of 18-35 year olds saying they like a brand more when they use social media (compared to 16% of 36+ year olds). The power of social media is growing and not only is it a platform for a brand to display their personality and advertise their products, but it also provides a place for the consumer to share their opinions and reviews. This gives us all greater influence over brands and other consumers’ choices, meaning brands have to do that bit more to keep us happy.


The graph below shows which types of media have the greatest influence on us when deciding which brand to purchase from. You can see an obvious shift away from traditional marketing methods including online advertising and email blasts. Instead Millennials are paying greater attention to apps and recommendations from blogs and social media. The influence from bloggers or well-known Instagrammers is something that is completely new for this generation. I know from experience that if I see a girl a similar age to me recommend an item of make up for example, on Instagram, I am much more likely to buy it than if I saw an ad from the brand itself. In fact, in a recent survey, 95% of Millennials named friends as their most credible source of information. This trend is definitely something not to be overlooked by brands, and it’s common-place now for brands to send bloggers free products purely so they’ll Instagram or tweet about it favourably!



We’ve seen that Millennials are often referring to social media before selecting a brand. It is therefore increasingly important for brands to invest in social media campaigns, focusing on what the customer wants and not just product selling. I, myself, have seen the rise of personalised ads on social media and I think it’s pretty effective. For example, I study Biomedical Science at the University of Manchester and in the past few months I’ve seen numerous sponsored ads on my Instagram feed including a post about a life science company and an ad for a marketing job in Manchester. It would be too much of a coincidence if this were by pure chance. Instead, companies are pulling information from our social media accounts and making sure they’re only advertising to the right people. After all, the life science company is unlikely to get many click-throughs from English undergraduates. This type of personalisation and targeted campaigns are what Millennials want to see and they have no time for forced ads that are irrelevant to them.


Inbound marketing is what Millennials want to see. They no longer want email campaigns, magazine ads or online pop-ups, instead they want to be informed about a product through videos, blogs and white papers. This generation is 247% more likelyto be influenced by blogs or social networking sites as opposed to outbound marketing. If you think about it this makes complete sense. What would you find more convincing: a print ad about a great new recipe book, or a YouTube channel full of short tutorials on how to cook some of the best dishes in the book? I know if I’m visually excited and provided with valuable information. I’m much more likely to make a purchase. To add to this, more Millennials are using ad-blockers, so influencer marketing is the best way of overcoming this and being seen by these people.


For marketers, there is a stark difference between the needs of Generation X and Millennials. The attraction of traditional print and television ads is diminishing and current 18-35 year olds are seeking more informative, interactive and indirect adverts. With this in mind, marketing will continue to evolve and it will be interesting to see how brands will adapt their campaigns to appeal to their new target audiences.


Do you have any predictions about the changing marketing trends to cater for Millennials? Let me know your thoughts by tweeting me, @EmilyAtNotch!