How to Market to Millennials: Understanding Trends and Preferences.



Have you ever seen an ad and wondered who it was aimed at? Sometimes marketing campaigns miss the mark if they don’t connect with their target audience. And the way you reach your audience will vary depending on the generation they’re in.

Millennials, the middle child of generations, have become a leading force in today’s marketplace. Thanks to their unique behaviours, preferences and values, you’ll need a different digital marketing strategy to reach millennials.

From Instagram reels to TikTok videos, discover how to market to millennials and draw this tech-savvy generation to your small business with Adobe Express.

Who counts as a millennial?

Millennials, officially known as Generation Y, are people born between 1981 and 1996 – though the years vary depending on the source. The term millennial came about as they were the first generation to reach adulthood in the new millennium – the widely celebrated 2000s.

Today, millennials are the largest generation in the UK, with an estimated 14.4 million recorded in 2021. That’s a huge cohort of people to market to! But before crafting your digital marketing strategy to target millennials, keep in mind some of their common characteristics:

Why market to millennials?

The millennial generation is perfectly sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Gen X on one side, and Gen Z and Gen Alpha on the other. They grew up in a time of rapid technological change that gave them limitless access to products and information.

Thanks to their unrivalled use of technology, you’ll want to leverage digital marketing to target millennials. Around 94% of millennials used social media in 2023, so apps like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook are good places to start.

Now entering their 30s and 40s, millennials are establishing careers and buying houses, often with student loans or young children. Still, their buying power surpasses other generations. As their salaries increase, so does their spending, making them the most lucrative market.

But they’re more than avocado-on-toast lovers and Netflix binge-watchers. Millennials know what they want, often prioritising convenience over brand loyalty more than other generations. That means they’re more likely to spend their money on the most cost-effective option.

When marketing to millennials, whether through a social media ad or an Instagram post, remember that value, authenticity and experience are key.

Free templates for marketing to millennials.

How to start marketing to millennials.

Millennials are never far out of reach – literally. Using digital marketing to target millennials is easier than ever before, simply because they generally spend a lot of their time online.

But they also thrive on real-life experiences, which broadens your marketing scope even further. Once you understand the millennial mindset, you can create a marketing campaign that speaks directly to them.

That said, there are three main types of marketing strategies you can use to reach a millennial audience.

Social media marketing to millennials.

Social media plays a major role in your marketing strategy. In fact, millennials and social media marketing go hand in hand. Apps like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook are popular among this generation, and they’re equally effective for reach and engagement.

Facebook ads and Instagram ads can increase your brand’s visibility, while TikTok videos are perfect for engaging with your audience and driving traffic to your website or e-commerce site. Plus, they’re fun to look at. Curating a social media presence can grow your market and connect with your audience in an authentic way.

Millennials and email marketing.

An effective email marketing campaign can help you reach potential customers and retain existing ones. But millennials value authenticity and personalisation in their inboxes too. Short and sweet emails are more likely to draw millennials in than long, info-heavy ones. If an email has a clever subject line that aligns with their values – even better!

Whether it’s a seasonal offer or a newsletter with an eye-catching banner design, e-mail marketing can keep your brand top of mind and engage your audience. Offer something valuable and personable, with visuals to match.

Millennials and experiential marketing.

When marketing to millennials, research shows that experience reigns supreme. Around 98% of UK consumers feel more inclined to purchase a product after attending an activation. This strategy – focused on creating immersive experiences to foster genuine connections with customers – has helped to blend online and offline experiences seamlessly.

Experiential marketing can range from live events and interactive pop-up shops to personalised brand activations, like a gift certificate. Since millennials rate experiences over products, think of your own experiential marketing strategy and draw your millennial customers to the big event with an online invitation.

Top 8 millennial marketing tips and strategies.

Millennials are a unique bunch – no two are the same, but they generally have similar values and behaviours. As digital natives, they’re well-versed in technology and know exactly how to engage with brands. That means their opinions and expectations can be stronger than others.

If your brand is mindful, ethical and authentic with diverse marketing awareness, you’re more likely to be a shoo-in for millennial audiences.

With this in mind, here are some useful tips to increase brand interaction when marketing to millennials:

Create an emotional connection.

Millennials prefer experiences instead of products. Simply bombarding them with the latest offerings might not do the trick here. Instead, focus your efforts on building an emotional connection and establishing lasting relationships. Use effective brand storytelling on your website or through video ads to build trust and credibility for your brand.

Focus on mobile-first experiences.

If there’s one thing millennials are good at, it’s staying connected. This group is constantly connected through smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. So it stands to reason that your website or e-commerce site should be optimised for mobile use. This not only improves the user experience, but it can reach people for longer. Create a mobile-friendly website page to boost your reach and appeal to this tech-savvy crowd.

Use video content to boost engagement.

Video content is essential for marketing to millennials. This demographic craves interactive experiences that videos provide. Create engaging video content on social media channels, like a show-stopping Instagram reel highlighting your products or services. Or develop a longer, documentary-style YouTube video for a behind-the-scenes look at your business. It’s a simple way to show your authenticity.

Be authentic and interactive.

Speaking of which, millennials can spot insincere marketing from a mile away. Adopt an authentic strategy and build trust through genuine engagement. Answer customer queries in a chatty YouTube clip. Use the poll feature on your Instagram story to gain valuable customer insights. Encourage customers to leave reviews on your website – or even on their own social media accounts. Prove that you’re a brand with authenticity and customer collaboration at its core.

Offer bespoke experiences.

For millennials, nothing beats a personalised service. They desire a brand that provides high-quality experiences that are suited to their individual preferences and needs. It’s all about relatability and fostering a genuine relationship.

Tailor your digital marketing strategy to millennials to include individualised content. It could be something simple like personalising your email content with their name, or something more detailed like a hand-written thank you card in their order.

Build your blog page for brand authority.

Millennials deal with hard and fast facts. But a website with an inactive blog, or no blog at all, can put them off. Around 55% of millennials ignore brands that don’t show up in search results, so consider a frequently updated blog page to relay useful information.

Providing top tips on using a certain product or how-to guides related to your offering can establish brand authority, boost your site’s visibility and engage your audience.

Leverage social media influencers.

Millennial audiences are big on word-of-mouth and genuine reviews. With user-generated content bringing authenticity and trust to a brand, millennials and influencer marketing are a match made in heaven.

Identify those with influence in your target market and collaborate with them. Consider a sponsored Instagram giveaway post, or ask them to share an honest video review of their experience with your product or service.

Offer incentives.

No one can pass up a good incentive, and millennials are no different. They’re well-acquainted with shopping online, and will often look for a reason to purchase from a brand. That’s where incentives come in. Think about what you can offer to millennial audiences, like loyalty cards and discounts. Remember, millennials also value time and experience, so your marketing approach should reflect that too.

Editable social media marketing templates for millennials.

Useful things to know.

What is the best way to market to millennials?

Social media marketing is one of the best ways to reach and engage with millennials. Millennials spend a lot of their time online and are often influenced to purchase a product based on accounts they follow. They also value experiences, so experiential marketing like pop-up shops and live events can help to draw in this crowd and encourage them to share it on their own socials.

What do millennials expect from brands?

Millennials are conscious consumers, often seeking value-driven brands that are authentic and transparent. If you’re open and honest with your communications, including marketing campaigns and product sourcing, you could be more likely to attract a millennial audience. Remember to showcase that your brand is innovative, smart and reliable when digital marketing to millennials.

Why is marketing to millennials difficult?

Millennials are highly informed shoppers that are more likely to switch brands if their needs aren’t met. They also prefer experiences to products, meaning that brands should focus on creating an emotional connection and building lasting relationships. This can make traditional marketing strategies like direct mail campaigns and advertising less effective.