Marketing To Millennials – What, Where & Who?

You often read articles that say ‘Millennials are lazy‘ and want stuff for nothing. Then you read another article saying Millennials understand the business world a lot more than we did when we were their age, and they are ready to graft and put a marker down for the efforts of their age group. Regardless of which notion you believe, one thing is for sure – brands are taking Millennial marketing very seriously indeed.

To unearth some of the issues and opportunities with Millennial marketing, we’ve taken a look and the what, where and who of digital marketing to the late teens to the early thirties category. What are Millennials, where are they consuming content and spending their time, and who is doing well when it comes to Millennial marketing?


The generation born roughly between 1983 and 2000 are known as Millennials. They are the largest demographic in the US, representing around a third of the total population. They wield enormous spending power and even greater social influence.

Millennials are incredibly digitally savvy. Computers – and in most cases mobile devices –  have been, and always will be, part of their lives. Mobile technology for them is a need to have. Not a nice to have.

According to a recent OFCOM study, 94% of their time in the UK is based around text-based communication (messaging and social networking). Having grown up with news of hacking and privacy changes, they generally prefer the private message apps such as WhatsApp and Snapchat. As such, it should come as no surprise that Twitter recently introduced a group message function.

But – as with most audience demographics – there is always a sub-spectrum. If you take one look at the oldest Millennial and the youngest, you will probably see they are in very different points of their lives. There’s a big difference between a University fresher and a single 30-year-old mum. In between each end of this spectrum, there are 20-somethings living on their own beyond the safe confines of University, as well as those recent graduates that have flown back to the safety net of the family home nest. Each subset within this Millennial audience make decisions differently, and the nuances matter.


Millennials are constantly producing content for their peers to consume and share. Whether it’s on Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr or in a simple text message, Millennials are producing much more content than their predecessors. The trick for brands and marketers is to tap into some of that Millennial ingenuity when creating engaging online content.

In a study from Latitude Research in the latter part of 2013, they discovered that 92% of people want ads to feel like a story or a game. A large proportion of those surveyed were in the Millennial bracket. They are looking for a personalised customer experience. They want to be part of the story.

Interestingly, when we analyse app download data from 2014, there is a distinct gender pattern amongst Millennials. Research from App Genie shows that in the US, females are around 30% more likely to download photo and video apps, and around 15% more likely to download social networking apps than males. Conversely, game apps are 10% less likely to be downloaded by females.

Apps Downloads by women - USA - 2014

Is there any truth in that data, given this is US only? Quite possibly. Of the 100 million active users that Snapchat has, the Wall Street Journal reported that around 70% are female. That trend continues if we widen the platform net. Last year, a study found that a greater percentage of US women use Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter than their male counterparts.

The Millennial boys aren’t far behind. Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat are all key platforms for them, with an increasingly greater number departing Facebook and heading for Snapchat. In our recent post on Snapchat and Facebook, Caisey Neistat showed up why stories are at the heart of Snapchat’s strategy. Along with a shift in perception, that has led Snapchat to being the fast growing social app – globally – in 2014, according to GlobalWebIndex. The top market for the percentage of teens that use Snapchat? The UK.

Fastest Growing Social Apps 2014

So what you’re saying is Facebook is pretty much dead, right? No. Far from it. In fact if we look at total app download data from 2014, we can see that Facebook owns the top four most downloaded mobile apps. In the UK and US, Facebook own the top three most downloaded apps.

Top App Downloads In UK And USA, 2014

It’s also important to mention another social network that is huge amongst Millennials – YouTube. “Mobile is a small but mighty screen when it comes to grabbing Millennials’ attention online“, says Majd Yousef – and video is in the driving seat. Of all minutes watched on YouTube, 40% is on smartphones. But how often do Millennials watch video content on their smartphones? According to a Google study, in a typical day, 98% of 18- to 34-year-olds reported using smartphones to watch video content.

Google study - Millennials consuming video content on their smartphones

The final piece of the ‘where’ Millennials jigsaw includes the likes of BuzzFeed and sites such as the LAD Bible. As BuzzFeed states in it’s recent technology study:

“Social feeds are the new home pages, so investing in content designed for social and mobile is becoming increasingly important”

And right they are. According to comScore, BuzzFeed reaches more millennials in the US than TV networks such as CBS, NBC and FX. That’s not all. The graph below shows the unique visits to US publications in October 2014. BuzzFeed dominates, with over 74 million unique visitors, of which 39 million were in that desirable 18-to-34 age range. That means more than half of online millennials in the USA visited BuzzFeed at least once, according to comScore.

BuzzFeed - Millennials unique visitors - October 2014 (comScore)

The LAD Bible – a highly masculine, video-focused online community – now has over 17 million social media followers, and is a haven for Millennial males.  In fact, it is the largest online community for men aged 18-34 in the UK. The LAD Bible promote content to their audience all day every day, so know how the 18-34 year old male brain works. Brands from Universal Films to Unilever, from Topman to Paddy Power, have used advertising solutions with the LAD Bible to reach Millennials males.

The LAD Bible - Facebook

The LAD Bible and BuzzFeed audiences are giving rise to a new kind of advertising platform brands – co-branded content – in order to to reach them with engaging content. So who is marketing to Millennials well?


If co-branded content is the way forward for engaging Millennials, then the key to co-branding is to allow the audience to feel part of the campaign, whilst retaining some control.

Oreo co-branded to good effect when it turned trending Twitter topics into personalised cookies. Festival-goers at SXSW – many of whom fall into the millennial demographic – were able to make the Oreo cookies with the use of a 3D printer. The concept was a huge hit, with queues of up to three hours.

Oreo - SXSW Personalised Twitter Cookies

Contiki have a slightly different angle for co-branded content. Instead of working with publishing platforms, they have started teaming up with YouTube celebrities and travel bloggers.

Contiki’s Roadtrip 2014 campaign was a collaboration with 13 YouTube travel personalities. Contiki arranged for local gatherings in each destination so that fans of the celebrities could hang out with their favourite internet personalities. For the UK meet up, fans (many of whom were Millennials) headed to Acklam Village Market on London’s famous Portobello Road in London. The event saw 3,000 fans queuing for hours, some overnight, for the opportunity to mingle with the YouTubers. Contiki proved that if the audiences and objectives of the brands and bloggers are matched correctly, it can be a brilliant partnership.

Contiki - Roadtrip - YouTube Blogger Collaboration 2014

Other big name brands from Mulberry to Mountain Dew have become involved in blogger-brand partnerships too. YouTube is awash with teens and twenty-somethings advising on everything from food to fashion to travel – content that is lapped up and shared among Millennial peer groups with viral velocity.

Ever since McDonald’s failed to enter the top 10 Millennials’ favourite restaurants in the US in 2013, they have been conducting an all-out Millennial offensive. They launched the McWrap in April 2013 to “address the needs of this very important customer to McDonald’s”, and it was one of the first brands to advertise on Instagram – a favourite amongst Millennials.

It even re-engineered its famous “I’m Lovin’ It” tagline to “Choose lovin’ “for 2014. The campaign launch also included an advertisement on Snapchat.

McDonald's - Choose Lovin' campaign

Studies show that Millennials love to travel and spend. Marriott Hotels“Travel Brilliantly” campaign asks millennials to “co-create” the future of travel. Their new mantra is to be both high tech and high touch, and thus Millennials get the instant gratification and constant contact they crave, along with traditional pampering.

That’s not all. In late 2014, Marriott International announced the launch of a content marketing studio that will produce content from TV shows to GIFs in an effort to get Marriott’s  brands at the forefront of Millennial travellers’ minds. The new studio includes an entertainment group focused on episodic storytelling, and a team that monitors and manages social media and live events.

The new studio will produce content ranging from TV shows and articles to Tumblr posts and Instagram uploads, according to the studio lead David Beebe. The goal is to make Marriott Hotels the preferred choice for a Millennial consumer ready to make a travel decision. Beebe sums up the campaign by resonating our thoughts exactly.

” This is about engaging content that builds communities that drive commerce “


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