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Marketing to Millennials: 5 Massive Trends That Are Leading the Way

Marketing to millennials

Millennials are a big deal. Not only are they the largest generation since the Baby Boom, but they’re also about to enter their prime purchasing years.

By the year 2020, Millennials will spend a whopping $1.4 trillion annually - or 30% of all retail sales in the United States alone. This means that business owners either need to start thinking like Millennials now or they’re going to risk getting left behind fast.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the biggest trends that are shaping Millennial spending behaviours and the most effective strategies that you can use to build smarter and faster marketing campaigns for your business. Strategies for marketing to Millennials are changing every day, but with this set of handy tips you’ll be able to adapt quickly and keep up with your youngest and most dynamic customers.

So, let’s dive into the fastest growing Millennial marketing trends out there and discover what they could mean for your business.

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1. User generated content

man tablet tableWhen it comes to targeting Millennials online, your customers are one of your most valuable resources.

User generated content is a great way to push Millennials further down the conversion funnel, especially since they trust it 50% more than any other type of media. This is bad news for businesses that are still focusing on traditional advertising, but fantastic news for brands that either already have bustling online communities or are hoping to build them soon. Social proof is a powerful phenomenon and sometimes your audience just needs to see your products in action before taking that final step and making a purchase.

There are a few different ways to not only encourage your audience to share their experiences, but to also repurpose that content for your marketing campaigns. Let’s break it down by two of the most popular platforms for user generated content, Instagram and YouTube:


With a highly visual format and over 300 million users (more than half of which fall into the Millennial age range), Instagram is perfect for capturing your customers’ personal experiences in an aesthetically-pleasing way.

One of the best ways to take advantage of user generated content on Instagram is by reposting your customers’ photos. This process is mutually beneficial for both you and your customers: Your customers will experience the thrill of seeing their photo on your feed and get more exposure for their account while you’ll start engaging with your audience on a more personal level and get an influx of fresh content. Regularly reposting your audience’s content will turn your customers into brand advocates who help you expand your business’ influence online.

To start collecting user generated content that you can repost on your feed, come up with a branded hashtag that your customers can use to show off their purchases. Make sure your hashtag is something short, snappy, and easy to remember. By giving your audience an outlet for their content, you’ll be able to gather product photos in one place and nurture your very own online community.

Once customers start to share their product photos, repost the best photos to your business’ Instagram account by either taking a screenshot of the original post or using an app like Repost. Be sure to give a quick shoutout to the customer that originally posted it - after all, they deserve it for helping you out.

Customer photos can also give your conversion rates a boost. When product pages feature photos from social media, Millennial customers are 6 times more likely to make a purchase.

Urban Outfitters is a great example of a brand that has made the most of their user generated content on Instagram. With the help of Fanreel by Curalate, the UOCommunity page pulls together customer photos and sorts them into different feeds using hashtags like #UOOnYou, #UOMens, etc.

urban outfitters uocommunity instagram

Customer photos are then linked to relevant product pages, letting customers easily shop for the outfits that they’re seeing. These crowdsourced lookbooks are a great tool for showcasing Urban Outfitters’ products and helping customers make more informed purchases.

urban outfitters uocommunity shop this look

If you own a Shopify store, Instagration is a handy app that can easily integrate your Instagram feed and customer photos into your site.


YouTube is also an incredibly popular platform for Millennials. In fact, Millennials are now watching more video content on YouTube and other streaming platforms than they are on TV. This huge cultural shift means that YouTube should definitely be a priority for you if you’re hoping to make user generated content a part of your marketing strategy.

Being able to have your customers show off your products in a video is a great way for the rest of your audience to decide whether it would be a good purchase for them or not. 86% of Millennials believe that user generated content is a good indication of your brand’s quality level, so this type of content can actually have a huge influence over how your products are perceived.

An effective way to get YouTube users to create more content around your brand is by investing in your product’s packaging to encourage customers to make unboxing videos. Unboxing videos are a unique piece of user generated content that follows along as customers open up products for the very first time and share their initial impressions.

Unboxing videos have become an important part of the decision-making process for Millennials since 62% of people watching unboxing videos online are doing so while researching a purchase. Create a well thought-out, memorable, and visually appealing unboxing experience for your customers to encourage them to share it with the world.


If you want to dive deeper into using Instagram, YouTube, and user generated content for your business, definitely take a look at these articles:

2. Influencer marketing

Millennials are placing more and more trust into social media influencers. In fact, 60% of Millennials have said that they would try a product suggested by a YouTuber and ⅓ consider blogs to be a top media source when researching a purchase.

As a result, collaborating with bloggers and social media influencers to target Millennials has become an area with huge potential for marketers, especially in industries like fashion and beauty. By getting your product into the hands of influencers, you can leverage their existing audiences and better reach your ideal customers.

Referrals are powerful tools - 92% of consumers rely on referrals from people they know over anything else when making purchases - so being able to tap into the trust that your customers have for popular influencers can be a big boost for your growth and sales.

If you want to get your product featured in a post from a blogger or social media celebrity, one of the best methods is to just ask. Many influencers include their contact information in the About section of their website or profile and they’re usually open to collaborating on product promotions.

The key to influencer marketing is finding an influencer with an audience that is similar to your target audience. Be sure to do lots of research and refine your pitch before reaching out.

To get a better idea of how you can use influencer marketing for your business, let’s take a look at some of the different ways that big brands work with Teni Panosian, a YouTube beauty guru, to promote their products.



Teni was contacted by Target to choose a set of plaid clothing items from their store and create a lookbook video around them. Lookbooks are popular types of YouTube content, so this is a subtle way for Target to promote its products to Teni’s audience.


Another example of sponsored products being seamlessly integrated into an established YouTube video format. In “Favorites” videos, beauty gurus list off their favorite items from the previous month or season, including many items which are sent to the gurus by brands.


For this video, Teni was flown to the Bahamas by Benefit Cosmetics and asked to document her adventures (which included product demos and sponsored events).

This type of content is meant to represent the lifestyle that a brand is trying to sell to its customers. 78% of Millennials would rather purchase an experience than a product, so it’s important for businesses to position their products as part of a larger, aspirational lifestyle.

Lifestyle content doesn’t have to always be larger than life either - try organizing a local event that fits your brand and inviting influencers to join you and create content about their experiences.


If you’re thinking about running an influencer marketing campaign, use these resources to build a successful pitch and get your product featured:

3. Live streaming

From Twitch to Periscope, live video is exploding for Millennials. Even Facebook has jumped into the fray with a live streaming feature that was first rolled out to celebrities, but is now being made available to everyone else.

It’s really no surprise that live streaming is taking off. When Millennials consume news, 43% of them value authenticity over the content itself and there are few things more authentic than live, anything-can-happen social media streams.

Video game streaming powerhouse Twitch boasts 100 million viewers per month of which nearly ⅔ are Millennials. When binge watching meets people watching, the results are impressive: The average user watches 106 minutes of live streaming per day which mean that Twitch actually takes up more Internet traffic than Hulu and gives major cable TV networks a run for their money during primetime.

Even the most mundane, everyday events seem to take on a larger than life quality when live streamed. Last month, a Periscope stream of a puddle in Newcastle hit 20,000 live viewers. That’s right - a puddle.

BREAKING NEWS: There's a man on a lilo in the puddle

— Elliot Wagland (@elliotwagland) January 6, 2016

The viral hit was the brainchild of Newcastle marketing agency Drummond Central and really shows the true potential for live streaming to create must-see moments in a sea of social media noise.

Streaming events like product launches and parties or even just giving your viewers a behind-the-scenes look at your day-to-day are all examples of great content for Periscope. Businesses now have the opportunity to give their customers a legitimately unfiltered and intimate look inside their company and build stronger relationships with customers that are genuinely engaged.

Although Snapchat doesn’t offer live streaming, the fact that its photos and videos disappear after 24 hours does inspire the same Fear Of Missing Out, or FOMO, that keeps users watching on live streaming platforms like Twitch, Periscope, and Facebook. Millennials account for 7 out of every 10 Snapchat users, making it another very important platform for your business if you’re hoping to reach younger audiences with real time content.


If you want to jump into live streaming with your business, get inspiration from these comprehensive guides:

4. Social good

Millennials are a socially conscious generation with a strong desire to make a difference in the world and they’ve started turning to businesses to help them make a bigger impact. Worldwide, 69% of Millennials want businesses to better facilitate customers getting involved in social issues which is a huge opportunity for businesses to start stepping in and helping out.

Showcasing social responsibility is not only a chance for your business to make the world a better place, but to also create a new way for Millennials to enact social change. Try to look for problems in your own community or on a global scale that your business can help solve and create initiatives around them.

Whether it’s partnering with a good cause, donating a portion of your profits to charity, or giving one of your products to someone in need for every sale you make, there are tons of different ways to get your business more involved with the causes that Millennials care about the most: Equal rights, the environment, and access to healthcare.

A great example of an online store that has made the “buy one, give one” approach a central part of its business model is LSTN Sound Co, a headphone company that uses a portion of their profits to support hearing restoration and raise awareness of hearing loss worldwide.

Every time someone purchases a pair of their handcrafted wooden headphones, a hearing aid is donated to someone in need. This is the perfect way for a business to show that not only do they care about providing their customers with quality products, but they also care about having a relevant impact on the world around them.


If you want to get your business more involved with social good, head this way:

5. Mobile first

person smartphone tableMillennials really are the mobile generation, especially since an overwhelming 87% have their phones by their side every second of the day.

For businesses, this means that mobile is no longer an afterthought - it needs to be at the forefront of every single marketing strategy. Smartphones are becoming the main gateway that people pass through to access the Internet, so you need to make sure that everything you do is optimized for every device.

From your email campaigns to your website, every aspect of your business needs to be mobile-friendly. Here are a few things to consider when optimizing your online presence for mobile users:

Load times

When it comes to using your website, the amount of time it takes to load can have a big effect on whether or not mobile customers choose to stick around. If a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 40% of visitors will head elsewhere. That’s a ton of leads that could be heading towards your competition because your website isn’t properly optimized.

An easy way to check how quickly your site is loading is by running it through Google PageSpeed Insights. It’s a handy tool that will let you know exactly how accessible your site is as well as give you solid advice for improving your load times. Websites that aren’t mobile-friendly turn customers away which is why every Shopify theme is designed to be completely responsive.


Google defines every time a user picks up a smartphone to learn, do, discover, watch, or buy something as a ‘micromoment’ and since the average person checks their smartphone 150 times per day, these micromoments are now happening everywhere all of the time.

This means that, as a business owner, you need to start thinking about how you can use content to capture people in those critical moments of intent. Whether it’s a how-to YouTube video or an informative blog article, you need to create a strategy for getting your business in front of your customers when they need your products and services the most.

To plan out how you can take advantage of micromoments for your business, Google has an in-depth guide that should give you the inspiration you need to create an effective mobile content strategy.

Physical retail

For entrepreneurs with brick-and-mortar stores, mobile optimization is extremely important. Before customers even get to your store, they’ll try to find you on their smartphones first. 50% of users that search for a local business on their smartphone will end up visiting that business within 24 hours, so you need to do everything you can to improve your local SEO. If your business isn’t showing up properly in search results, you could be missing out on lots of new, local customers.

Even when people are actually in your store, mobile optimization still makes a difference. 82% of customers now check their phones for more information before making a purchase in-store and 57% compare prices on their phones while shopping which means that making sure your website and product pages are mobile-friendly could make all the difference for customers at your physical locations.

Mobile apps

Building a mobile ecommerce app for your business can also be a great way to make purchasing your products easier for Millennials. Mobile shopping apps are very popular with Millennials - nearly half of all 18-34 year olds have downloaded a mobile shopping app on their smartphone.

If you own a Shopify store, you can easily sell your products through mobile apps thanks to the Shopify Mobile Buy SDK.


Does your business need mobile optimization help? Here are some good places to start:


Are you ready to take on the next generation of consumers?

With these trends at the top of your mind, you’ll be well on your way to building marketing campaigns that reach Millennials and grow your business.