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How Brands Can Connect With Millennials

A Social@Ogilvy Webinar

You can’t talk about marketing these days without hearing that word: Millennials.


While some people think they’re entitled, selfish, and unrealistic, they’ve also been dubbed the next “hero” generation, following many of the same traits as past hero generations in American history. Many others see Millennials as savvy, inventive, and bold. Regardless of your personal opinion, there’s no debating that Millennials are a powerful generation. Indeed, they have just surpassed the Baby Boomers as America’s largest generational cohort.

There are many traits exuded by Millennials that help them stand out from other generations. Millennials are:

  • Entrepreneurial — Wanting to solve problems by developing their own ideas and collaborating with others
  • Individual — They avoid being labeled, and they don’t fit into previously-held stereotypes
  • Challengers — They challenge governments and businesses to be more transparent and responsive, thus fueling disruptive products and services
  • Access-seeking — They appreciate insider info and hope to engage with leaders to help set the agenda for issues they care about
  • Optimistic-realists — They’re rethinking what “success” means for them, placing a high value on social, economic and environmental responsibility


So, Millennials are an interesting bunch, quite unlike other segments of the marketplace. Given these unique characteristics, brands may find it difficult to make an impact on this generation. However, some brands are indeed resonating with Millennials. Here are some ways it can be done:

  • It’s not what you sell, it’s why — Millennials are gravitating towards brands who have a broader impact on society, speaking to the “Challengers” characteristic above. Toms and Chipotle are examples of brands who are resonating with this generation because of their goals that look past just sales.
  • Social is essential, but traditional tactics matter — Millennials are avid consumers of social media, but that doesn’t mean brands should ignore other channels. Integrated campaigns that utilize user-generated content along with traditional models is a way to ensure a brand is reaching Millennials along with other targets.
  • Invite Experiences — Don’t just talk about what your brand stands for, but show it. Etsy House is a great example of a brand offering consumers a face-to-face interaction, as folks can book workshops with top Etsy designers and vendors. This speaks to the access that Millennials covet.
  • Be clear, value feedback — Millennials like to be heard, to spark social change. Brands that open themselves up to feedback can often make meaningful changes at the product stage or in their service.
  • Provide access — Millennials love to be involved. User-generated content and personalized experiences are ways to ensure the consumer feels like they are a part of the brand.
  • Harness the innovation engine — Embrace that Millennials are a generation that like to try new things. Working with influencers on platforms like YouTube and Vine can show consumers that your brand is speaking their language.

The good thing for brands is that Millennials are consistently using such things as digital devices and social media, so there is a wealth of data out there about them. And Millennials are much more willing than other generations to accept this, as long as there is some sort of value return in it for them. Brands that recognize what Millennials want and offer it to them will find themselves in a beneficial position as this powerful demographic becomes an even more dominant part of the marketplace.

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