The best way to prepare for future marketing trends is to study the behavior of the demographic that will soon become the dominant buying power. Get to know Gen Y now and explore creative marketing strategies to connect with them.


Stat #1: 61% of Millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference.

“Our hippie parents tried to instill their values in us, and it looks like it worked (at least to some degree!). We millennials love to feel like we’re making a difference. So, one of the best ways to get us hooked on your products is to make us feel good about buying them.”

Remember when TOMS shoes took the nation by storm? These shoes were nothing special. In fact, they were overpriced ugly, shapeless, canvas slip-on that developed an insufferable odor after only a few wears. And yet, for years they were one of the most popular shoe manufacturers in the United States. Millennials, were completely gaga over these hideous shoes. Plenty of discount brands copied the style and produced replicates for half the price, but they were completely unsuccessful. We were fiercely loyal to the TOMS brand. How did TOMS get us under its spell? Simple—it’s an incredibly ethical company, committed to making a difference in underdeveloped countries. Their promise is that, for each pair of shoes purchased, it will donate a pair to a child in need. Knowing they’re helping impoverished children gives Millennials an added incentive to buy their shoes.

Sure, very few businesses have crazy-impressive, socially-responsible models like TOMS. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage this millennial marketing strategy anyway. Take Dove, for example. Its bath products and business model aren’t much different from its competitors,’ but it has branded itself as a social advocate. In 2004, it launched the Campaign for Real Beauty, with ads that feature real women whose bodies do not fit the stereotypical norms of beauty encouraging viewers to embrace their bodies, regardless of their shape or size. Along with these ads, Dove established a foundation to promote high self-esteem and “inspire and educated girls and women about a wider definition of beauty.” Even though Dove products are pretty run of the mill, sales rose because people felt good supporting this cause.

The bottom line is, if your company is involved in charitable works, don’t hesitate to highlight this in your marketing efforts. No doubt, the “good guy” reputation and “feel good” incentives will pay off in dividends.

Stat #2: 84% of Millennials don’t trust traditional advertising.

When it comes to Millennials, old school, traditional marketing is not the route to go. They are skeptics of impersonal methods like radio and magazine ads, pop-ups, cold calling, and direct mail campaigns, which feel disruptive. Instead of pushing your products on them, give Millennials a good reason to come to you.

When it comes to social media outlets like Twitter, Instagram, and Facecbook, strive to create images which feel like native content on the platform. The goal is for posts to showcase your products in a natural way that doesn’t make them feel like advertisements. Sauza Tequila employed this strategy with a Day of the Dead Instagram picture. Rather than sharing an image of a huge bottle of tequila with Sauza plastered all over it, Sauza’s team created a beautiful, eye-catching image that could easily be something a friend shared during a cocktail party. As a result, it got numerous likes and comments from fans.

Stat #3: Millennials account for more than seven in ten Snapchat users.

Given its attribution challenges and low market penetration, Snapchat is somewhat of a “dark hole” that many marketers try to avoid. However, if you’re looking for new ways to connect with the millennial population, Snapchat might be a venue worth exploring.

We’ve seen brands embrace this new frontier in many fun, creative ways. In 2014, GrubHub launched their first ever “SnapHunt”, a scavenger hunt managed completely through Snapchat. Each morning, they posted a food-related challenge on their story and fans snapchatted back their entries. GrubHub randomly selected ten winners a day and gifted them $50 credits, causing quite a buzz on social media. Everlane, a budding clothing retailer, found another unique way to leverage Snapchat. Their shtick is that they’re a fully transparent company—they provide a full breakdown of the costs to create each of their products and how much they’re marking them up—and they use Snapchat to draw back the curtain a little further and share more about their company philosophy and culture. Their snaps feature company parties, office tours, and even their warehouses in action.

Stat #4: 90% of Millennials can be found on Facebook. – Hubspot:

Millennials are obsessed with Facebook—in fact, most Millennials log more than two hours a day on the social media platform. So, if you’re looking to market products or services to millennial customers, this is definitely one of the best places to do it. The game-changer for Facebook marketing is that the platform has a vast amount of personal data for each user. It knows about our educational backgrounds, past and current occupations, critical life events (engagements, new jobs, divorces, you name it!), geographic location, net-worth and much, much more. Advertisers can leverage these highly-specific targeting options to reach get their ads in front of their most-prized prospects.

Advertisers can then create highly personalized Facebook ads that are guaranteed to resonate with their target groupings. It’s important to note that, with Millennials, it’s ok to go this route. Advertisers are often wary of creating ads that are super specific to one's needs, for fear that they’ll be perceived as creepy or invasive. This sentiment is far more common around order generations. In contrast, Millennials are more comfortable knowing that their personal data is online. They have come to expect and prefer ads that are catered to their interests and needs.

Stat #5: Millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts, who happen to be strangers, than advertisements and 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites.

No one makes a purchase because some swarthy salesman tells them they need it. Yet, if an expert whom they admire and trust recommends a product, they’ll be reaching for their wallets in no time. This is especially true for millennials, who spend a great deal of time researching potential purchases before taking the plunge. To ensure they find your products as they go about this research, you’ll need to make sure experts are touting them. You can execute this mission one of two ways.

In some cases, all you need to do is get your products in the hands of the right people. This tactic is a goldmine for advertisers who sell clothing, beauty products, sporting goods, furniture, and home décor, cooking supplies—basically anything that appears on popular lifestyle blogs. For example, let’s say you’re a boutique clothing line. Make a hit-list of popular fashion bloggers and Instagrammer’s whose styles are similar to your own. Reach out to them to introduce them to your brand. Offer to send them samples of your products and explain that, if they like them, you’d love to see them feature a review of it online. If they move forward with it, this could be a major win for your business. If not, ask them for feedback on what they liked and didn’t like about it so you can make iterations for the future.

Another tactic is to become a trusted expert yourself. Far too many companies use their blogs solely to champion their products and services. Newsflash—no one wants to read that crap! Instead, your goal should be to create high-quality content that is actually relevant to what potential customers are looking for.

Start by using Google’s keyword planner to identify high-volume keywords related to your industry. Are your competitors ranking for these terms? If not, take the opportunity to create content on these topics. That way, when people search for these queries, they’ll be introduced to your brand. If your competitors are already dominating the top keywords, start by covering more niche, longer tail keywords that they’ve not yet focused on.

Once you’ve created a kickass blog, two incredible things will happen. Firstly, you’ll build a network of fans who respect your thought leadership and, by virtue, hold your products in high regard. These guys will become your brand advocates. Secondly, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with top-of-the-funnel prospects who may eventually become customers.