Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) in today’s fast-paced, competitive landscape are one of the leading consumer groups that’s 75 million strong. With approximately $200M in annual purchasing power and an active, powerful social media presence, they’re dictating not just what they do with their disposable income, but also with an impactful voice that’s capable of sparking nation-wide conversations.

For brands looking to scale, it’s a business imperative that you understand what exactly millennials want—and ultimately, expect from a product/service and a marketing message, if you want to successfully market to them.

Millennials and customer engagement

According to recent TotalRetail study, nearly 45% of millennials demand a more engaging experience, where they expect brands to actually invest time and effort into building strong, deeply personalized relationships with them that are based on mutual trust. Essentially, they want to be involved in the innovative process,  especially when they’re not satisfied with what a product has to offer.

If you think about it, everything from—platform functionalities to new feature tweaks are created keeping customer feedback in mind. Essentially, everything you create, you create keeping customers’ requirements in mind. So, when you eventually decide to scale, it only makes sense that innovation of any kind is customer-first.

Naturally, this entails directing your resources towards developing the right kind of structure that works for your brand. For example, a healthy feedback loop that moves from consumers, consumer support, development, and finally, back to consumers.

Earlier, one-way customer-client relationships were considered the norm. You were supposed to make a sale and move on to the next one. Only a few companies gave priority to nurturing a relationship with their buyers. However, this attitude does not fly anymore—and in fact, creates a missed opportunity.

When businesses everywhere are committed to the idea of building a reliable partnership with the people they’re selling to—it clearly reflects on their revenue targets. For example, they assign priority to smart feedback loops that connect customers from the company’s social media with the support and the development team. Millennials tend to be vocal about the positive/negative experiences they have with the brand, and it’s rather crucial for you to keep tabs on what they’re saying so that their comments don’t go to waste.  

Here, you’re treating customers like collaborators, and ensuring that you’re addressing real business needs—instead of continuing to surround yourself in an echo chamber. When you’re directly interacting with the people who’re buying, using and recommending your product by consistently seeking out their feedback, you’re less likely to lose sight of what’s most important to them.

Obviously, you don’t need to pay heed to literally every comment that you receive, however, when you already have a feedback strategy in place—your company can actively concentrate on establishing connections than transactions.



Millennials and social causes
Given the skyrocketing cost of living, sedentary job markets and excessive college debts, millennials are expected to be tight on cash and are incapable of making charitable donations that the baby boomers once did. As a result, many of them want to buy from and seek employment in companies that have socially-oriented mission statements that they actually follow through on!

The 2015 Global Corporate Sustainability report found that 66% of the millennials are open to paying more money for more sustainable products/services. Not only this, but 74% of said that they preferred buying from and recommending brands that are public with their support for social causes related to feminism, LGBTQ rights, anti-racism, environmental sustainability, animal rights, and overall inclusivity campaigns.



For millennials, a company that’s in business only to reap profits is rather unimaginative and less appealing than the one that isn’t. Mayra Urbano, a social entrepreneur who’s passionate about encouraging businesses to contribute to the betterment of the society suggests that there are  four social impact pillars that the current generation wants brands to focus on:

  • Actively contribute to solving social problems and improving society.
  • Prioritizing the impact (both positive and negative) they’ve on the society with their products/services.
  • Being as transparent (and public!) as possible about their efforts.
  • Including customers in any or all of their social endeavors.


In a recent Gillette ad, the company addresses the negative impact on toxic masculinity on the society and implored men to “do better” to combat it. A Morning Consult survey confirmed that just days after the campaign went live—and despite the widespread backlash it received from a majority of conservative groups, 42% of the customers felt that Gillette “shared their values” before they even watched the video. After watching, the number increased to 71%. Most importantly, the company suffered no hit to their sales regardless of the campaign being the subject of countless self-aggrandizing think pieces across the internet.



On a similar note, when Nike made Colin Kaepernick as one of the faces of their brands to take a stand against police brutality, they faced a reasonable amount of backlash from a vocal minority that threatened to boycott their products. Immediately after, the company’s share price dropped by 3.2%, but eventually, their overall sales increased by 10% for a simple reason: They are now focused on attracting the millennial generation at the expense of the baby boomers.



Remember, millennials are extremely keen on ‘giving back to the community’, therefore, they tend to gravitate more towards companies that let them do the same. Here’s the catch, though: Not all millennial segments are created equal, which means they fall on the varying spectrum of ‘wokeness’.

For example, the early millennials are more into combating racism, whereas, the late millennials are reasonably drawn to animal rights, instead. Not only this, 80% millennials use social media to talk about LGBTQ rights, animal welfare, and inclusiveness. However, when it comes to environmental conservation and sustainability, there’s a 50/50 split between people over and under 35.

Similarly, English-speaking millennials consider animal rights to be their top-most priority, but for French and Chinese-speaking millennials it’s last on the list.

The point is that the millennials are not a monolith, and as a marketer, you should identify their subgroups quickly to learn more about the social cause that appeals the most to them. This not only helps you design more tailored campaigns, but also gives you an insight into the products you should be creating for a specific market.


Remember, millennials are extremely keen on ‘giving back to the community’, therefore, they tend to gravitate more towards companies that let them do the same. Here’s the catch, though: Not all millennial segments are created equal, which means they fall on the varying spectrum of ‘wokeness’.

For example, the early millennials are more into combating racism, whereas, the late millennials are reasonably drawn to animal rights, instead. Not only this, 80% millennials use social media to talk about LGBTQ rights, animal welfare, and inclusiveness. However, when it comes to environmental conservation and sustainability, there’s a 50/50 split between people over and under 35.

Similarly, English-speaking millennials consider animal rights to be their top-most priority, but for French and Chinese-speaking millennials it’s last on the list.

The point is that the millennials are not a monolith, and as a marketer, you should identify their subgroups quickly to learn more about the social cause that appeals the most to them. This not only helps you design more tailored campaigns, but also gives you an insight into the products you should be creating for a specific market.

Millennials and the sharing economy
Who doesn’t like sharing their stories, home videos, photos, and milestones with other like-minded people? For example, instead of maintaining a scrapbook or an album that we can to show to a dinner guest, we now have the convenience of having a constant stream of pictures posted across our social media channels, like Instagram, for all our connections to see. This penchant for sharing also applies to businesses.

Millennials—as a direct result of the recession years—tend to constantly worry about inflation and are ultimately, apprehensive about committing to a large-scale purchase. In lieu of the financial crisis that they had to witness during their impressionable years, they’re eager to approach financial investment decisions with slight hesitation. For example, according to a 2016 Goldman Sachs study:

“It’s not just homes: Millennials have been reluctant to buy items such as cars, music, and luxury goods. Instead, they’re turning to a new set of services that provide access to products without the burdens of ownership, giving rise to what’s being called a sharing economy.”

SPACE10, a Copenhagen-based company has launched the One Shared House 2030 co-living project, that’s involved with more than 80,000 people across the globe. “From New York and London to New Delhi and Shanghai, millennials are increasingly blurring the lines between home, work and play—sharing spaces to save money and time as well as make new friends,” quotes Financial Times.


With the “Uberization” of our society, the millennial generation is more likely to gravitate towards shareable solutions that can serve as viable options for reducing financial burdens.

Millennials and customer support
When you’re brought up with access to the rapidly-evolving advantage of online search, millennials are used to consulting the internet’s extraordinary database that is the internet to find answers to almost anything. Inevitably, this has wildly raised their expectations in terms of customer support.

As a result, if they cannot be bothered to call one of your sales representatives, they will definitely send an email with multiple queries that demand a prompt reply. As a business, it’s important that you have a reliable system in place to not only manage support traffic but to actively engage with the customers (like we discussed previously!). Almost 71% of millennials agree that the most significant thing a brand can do to show that they care is by valuing their customers’ time. That being said, 25% of them expect to receive a response in not more than ten minutes when they raise a social media query—a number that jumps to 30% when they use a text message to alert a business about the issue they’re facing.

In order to meet this expectation, you need dynamic customer service, that’s a healthy mix of 24-hour availability (using digital chat agents like Facebook Messenger) and; providing the front-line employees with the authority, requisite skills and technologies to solve issues quickly.

If you’re looking to impress the millennial generation, you must embrace the slightly complex but extremely helpful automation-rich support methods that allow you to handle multiple communication channels (including social media) and; implement helpful knowledge bases, and live chat systems (like tawk.to) that are readily available for the customers.

Millennials and influencer marketing
If you’ve been living under a rock this whole time, influencer marketing is when a business offers monetary compensation (or anything else of value) to a social media influencer (someone with a substantial following) to talk about their products in a more personal, authentic way. When you want to advertise your products to a new, relevant audience, letting a trusted individual doing your bidding builds trust and transparency without coming across as overly promotional.

And thankfully, when it comes to the millennial generation, influencer marketing has been a huge hit in the last few years. In fact, nearly 58% of them are more receptive to ads that feature one of their beloved “digital star” which can be a youtube personality, social media content creator or even the owner of a popular cat.


When you’re going over your marketing strategy, considering including influencer marketing to the mix and partner with a known-face in your industry. When they make a post (or three, depending on the perks you have to offer) about your products, their millennial audience will most likely take their word for it and 22% of them might be open to making a large purchase simply because they saw an online influencer endorsing you.

In conclusion, millennials have higher expectations (than their parents!) because they’ve pretty much grown up with rapidly-advancing technology which has ultimately, made them strongly skeptical about brands and how they market to them. They’re quick to move on and seek out your competitors, if they’re met with lackluster service, unsatisfactory product or simply a brand that doesn’t live up to its market image.

Thanks to social platforms, you have a number of opportunities to forge a real connection with your potential and existing buyers. Remember to always prioritize transparency, communicate a thought-provoking purpose for your product, offer high-quality customer support, and have consistent business ethics that you abide by.

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