The Secret to Marketing to Millennials

by Liz Hamilton

The paradigm that exists in millennial buying patterns is something that has been escaping marketers for years. What do they buy? How often do they buy it? Where do they buy it from? How many digital channels do we need to be on for them to buy from us? 

I’ll let you in on a secret…we’re really not any different than anyone else. We buy the same things, at the same time, from the same places. Although different mediums now exist, reaching us isn’t any different than it was circa 1983. It’s the content used that may need to shift a bit.

As (shockingly!) normal and routine as they may seem, here are three things that us millennials care deeply about:

Our Pets

While many millennials have started their human families already, a group of us remain that have only tip-toed into this trajectory with pets as “starter children.” You read that right. We treat our pets like babies (how long have you known about or thought to buy grain-free dog food and organic cat treats?) and as cliche as it may sound, that’s a big marketing opportunity where several brands have already seen the advantage (read: dogs driving vehicles, cats riding roombas). 
More than 44 percent of us share this pet sentiment and the closer a brand relates to us as a pet parent, the more likely we are to relate to it.

Inserting shameless photo of my fur babies. Both of them eat and are dressed arguably better than me. 


However you feel about global warming or saving the environment, tying your brand with a cause or influencer that in some way claims to help to make the world a better place is a good idea. Millennials will sometimes choose products solely for this reason. Which soap do you think I buy, the plain label one or the one with a duck on it that claims it donates money to help clean birds affected by oil? (Hint: it’s the latter, and I couldn’t even tell you how much either of them cost). More than a third of buyers ages 18-29 say a company’s affiliation with a cause would make them a repeat customer, according to eMarketer. 




To me, the medium doesn’t matter — it’s the content. If a commercial is paired with some seemingly trendy song or action that was popular six months prior, I immediately tune it out as being out of touch. This is where things get tricky for marketers and perhaps why millennials are the bane of every creative brainstorm’s existence, because you can’t always plan for what will be popular tomorrow. 

This is where quick thinking and real-time social media engagement is important but really, a good strategy is to pair your brand with influencers that speak to your targeted generation. If you want 22-year-olds to buy your merchandise, partnering with a real 22-year-old to share product benefits feels more genuine. 

Brands have indicated the benefits of influencer marketing include (among others) driving engagement (77 percent) and driving traffic (56 percent).


This is Cortney, my favorite Instagrammer. She has 52K followers. It’s embarrassing how many times I’ve seen an outfit of hers and either styled what I have accordingly or purchased one eerily similar; I have this same top and similar jeans and shoes. (source:

Liz Hamilton

Liz Hamilton

Public Relations Account Executive