Millennials, like all generations, are different. Their upbringing, access to technology, reliance on social, exposure to information, views on spending – their lives – are different. And of course, these differences change the way they interact with brands; meaning brands must change the way they interact with Millennials – that is, if they want a share of the $400 billion in spending power these consumers will control by 2020.

63% of Millennials want to be the first to share news and information

Millennials take pride in being in the know. In pop culture, news, fashion, technology, music, etc., Millennials like to be the first to know or own something – to know what’s cool before it’s cool. Social networks especially feed this desire for “firstness” and originality. They want to start conversations that others flock to. They take pride in being trendsetters, someone their networks turn to for the latest trends and info.

This contributes to an “I am what I share” mentality. Millennials use their social channels as an expression of themselves, their personality, their individuality. The subjects they’re “first” in speak to who they are, so they share things that build the image of themselves they’d like to promote – which includes brands. Says Shama Kabani, President of The Marketing Zen Group:

“The future belongs to those marketers who can find a way to become a part of their consumer’s identity.”

Make your Millennial fans feel like insiders via your social channels. Invite them to or partner with experiences not everyone gets to do/have/know about – special events, focus groups, samples – and make them easily sharable. When they feel special, they’ll share. Apparel brand Converse, for example, partnered with Fader Fort (a fairly exclusive venue at SXSW in Austin) to create a photobooth that produced .gif-like moving images. People shared the Converse-branded .gifs with their social networks – showing off for their friends.

47% want brands to provide inspiration for things to do, make, or buy

Fitting with their desire for firstness, Millennials are always on the lookout for new experiences. In fact, they’d rather spend money on experiences than on goods. Brands who provide and inspire new activities therefore become a more important part of Millennials’ lives. Your brand is no longer simply your products – it’s every interaction people have with you, and smart brands are making these interactions more frequent, interesting, and brag-worthy.

Home improvement retailer Lowe’s posts six-second videos to social network Vine, showing how to do simple home projects like repel vermin from a vegetable garden or remove a stubborn sticker – inspiring small DIY projects. Home Depot holds classes in stores to teach more complicated home projects like painting, drywall, and tiling. And grocer Whole Foods holds cooking classes. These teaching moments inspire new activities, and tie the brand to the sense of pride and fulfillment Millennials feel when they accomplish something new.

45% want brands to ask for input about new products and ideas

Collaboration is expected among Millennials. More than the generations before them, they’ve been encouraged to share their opinions their entire life. Where previous generations were “seen but not heard,” Millennials’ parents and teachers invited her to speak up. Today, they’re outspoken and hyper-connected, sharing their opinions on any issue easily via social – and they expect brands to listen.

Right now, they don’t think brands are. Only 29% of Millennials believe companies truly want to know what customers think. Yet 64% of Millennials still want companies to give them more ways to share feedback.

Prove you’re listening by responding to reviews and social posts, not just on your brand site, but on social networks and retail sites as well. Seeing a brand response to a review makes 41% of consumers think the brand “really cares about consumers.” Thirty-five percent also think the brand “has great customer service,” and 22% think it’s “a trustworthy brand.” If a reviewer suggests a product improvement, thank them for their recommendation. Respond to customers who give bad feedback to let them know when the product has been improved.

Millennials my be different, but their habits are catching on. Feed their cravings for firstness, collaboration, and inspiration, and create strong bonds that last.

Stats, unless otherwise hyperlinked, are available in this presentation.


  • Tom

    Amazng, thanks!

  • Tara DeMarco

    H Tom, the stat s from ths presentaton at CES:
    Hope that helps, and thanks for readng!

  • Tom

    H there. Thanks for the artcle. The source lnk for your stats takes me to another webpage and I can’t see a separate presentaton lsted there. (I’m tryng to fnd the source of your ‘63% want to be the frst to know’ stat.)

    Any help would be apprecated!

  • Tara DeMarco

    H Matt, defntely agree about Taco Bell. Ther efforts to engage on Twtter and Instagram, and to shower ther bggest fans wth attenton, really resonate. I lke ths campagn of thers:

    Thanks for your comment!

  • Matt

    Great artcle. Mllennals by some accounts are the largest generaton n US hstory. Many companes, f they haven’t started already, or gong to have to change ther whole marketng campagns, and strateges to cater to our generaton. Especally as we come nto adulthood and start to have some real spendng power.

    I thnk brands lke Old Spce, Taco Bell, and the lke have done a great job adjustng to the Mllennals and what makes us tck.

    I recently wrote an artcle for my communty organzng blog about how Mllennals are the nest great generaton to come about, and how we are already provng our worth to our communtes. Check t out.

  • Tara DeMarco

    You’re rght, a lot of brands are strugglng wth Mllennals. Thanks for readng!

  • Joah

    Thanks for sharng, Tara. I’m always mpressed by technology companes that seek to understand our generaton and translate that nto ther work wth brands because so few are gettng ther strateges executed approprately by agences.

  • Tara DeMarco

    Thanks for readng!

  • utrigo7

    Thanks for the artcle :)