Marketing to Millennials

Download the original report here.

As the quest to accurately market to Millennials continues to perplex advertisers, reporters and content marketers produce articles and blog posts claiming to have all the answers. The truthful answer: this generation is large and diverse. Taking a small sample and making sweeping generalizations probably won’t payout for your marketing plan.
To get a clear read on this age group, we just asked them ourselves. Some valuable insights from our nationwide survey:

  • When it comes to core values, Millennials are not unlike their
    parents’ generations, rating family as most important in their lives
    – though they are more likely to place finding a satisfying career at
    the top of their list of priorities.
  • If a Millennial has made a recent purchase, they likely used their
    most prized possession —a smartphone— to do so.
  • This generation has lofty standards – though promotional emails
    are still an effective way to reach Millennials, this age group often
    finds the content they contain to be irrelevant or unhelpful.


As it turns out, Millennials are not too different from their parents’ generations. 25-34-year-olds value self-sufficiency above all else and are more likely to be job searching than saving for retirement. They are looking forward to being able to afford big purchases; which may involve a minivan and fancy stroller, because 11% are also interested in starting a family.

Over 2 in 5 Millennials rate family as the most important thing in their lives, though 1 in 5 are less sentimental; they care the most about saving money. Unlike their parents, faith is at the bottom of the list.

Why do Millennials’ values matter to marketers? 15% of Millennials said they stopped purchasing from a brand because the brand “Did not understand them,” compared to only 8% of older consumers. Luckily, some marketers are getting it right—20% of Millennials report they are constantly viewing ads that appeal to their core values, compared to only 7% of the older demographic who report the same.


Over two thirds of Millennials use Samsung or Apple smartphones and they have high expectations for their devices. Scared of being disconnected, long battery life is the most important feature, followed closely by camera quality and water and shatter protection.

If you’re wondering what Millennials are doing with all that time they spend on their phones, they’re likely making a call, texting a friend, or scrolling through social media. Unlike older generations, Millennials surf the web on their phones frequently as well – and 2 out of 3 have gaming apps on their phones.

More generally, in the past month, Millennials put their smartphones to use watching videos, listening to music, audiobooks, and podcasts, or sending cash to a roommate to pay rent. They are glued to their phones; a quarter of Millennials have push notifications enabled for their personal email – which means they check emails as they roll in.

While all generations love music, 54% of Millennials have listened to audio on their phone in the past month and about 70% listen to music every day. A staggering 91% use an audio streaming service like Apple Music or Spotify. They list ad-free music and ability to listen offline as the top priorities when choosing a music streaming platform.

Just over half of Millennials who own a tablet use an iPad and the second most popular tablet is the Samsung Galaxy. If Millennials are reading, they are most likely cozying up to a hardcopy book, as only 18% use their tablets to read. Surfing the web, watching videos, and engaging on social media are much more popular activities.


Despite the assumptions that Millennials would rather hide behind a screen than talk on the phone, out of those who were shown click to call ads in the past 6 months, this generation is significantly more likely to place a phone call and make a purchase from an online or mobile ad. They are also more likely to have purchased via promotional SMS.

With all the apps at our fingertips, mobile purchases are growing exponentially. It is most likely that if a Millennial has made a recent purchase, it was on their phone (83%). This could be a DIY action or augmented by a virtual assistant, e.g. Siri, Google Assistant, as 34% of Millennials use these helpers to make a purchase.

While 61% of Millennials made an online purchase in the past six months, they equally prefer shopping in a physical store – though 21% of these young adults will see an item in store and wait to purchase it online later. Overall, Millennials are less likely to convert on a laptop or desktop.

Almost a third of Millennials have completed a purchase through a smart home device (e.g. Alexa, Google Home). No matter where they are shopping, Millennials are most likely to use mobile payment systems like Visa Checkout, Apple Pay, or PayPal.

Though we tend to poke fun at this generation for having no money, Millennials value high quality products; they are significantly more likely than older generations to pay more for higher quality products. Millennials are driving the subscription service industry, subscribing to all services at higher rates than older generations, from magazine and newspapers to beauty boxes and meal kits.


When it comes to brand exposure, most Millennials learn about brands or deals from family, friends, and social media—just like their older counterparts. However, they are more in tune with celebrity endorsements, while older generations tend to rely on television features and colleagues for product recommendations. When it comes to promotional materials, email and direct mail are preferred, but Millennials are also more likely to enjoy digital and radio advertisements, SMS, and click-to-call ads.

Email marketers, time to step it up. Of the Millennials who have received marketing emails in the past six months, only a fifth believe them to be frequently or always useful. Despite this fact, almost 50% have made a purchase from a promotional email in the past 6 months, and email is the preferred venue of interaction when it comes to customer service. This generation is also more likely to resolve a customer service issue via text–and more inclined to posting about their qualms on social media.

If your brand is sending direct mail to Millennials, it’s not dead yet. About 42% of Millennials report having received coupons, catalogs, and newsletters in the mail and 34% open and read them all.


When marketing to Millennials, keep the big picture in mind – from their values to the devices you can find them on, specific targeting will increase your marketing ROI.

  • Millennials are not thinking about retirement just yet; they are focused on finding a fulfilling career and building their families. Because brand communication is so important to this crowd, cater your advertisingcampaigns to their core values. When Millennials feel misunderstood, they often discount a brand entirely.
  • Don’t shy away from using less traditional advertising like click-to-call ads or SMS with this generation. They live on their phones, even vetting clothes in store to buy online later. Anything your brand can do to become mobile optimized and friendly will go a long way.
  • Advertising on YouTube, music streaming services, and podcasts could pay off big. Young adults consume audio and video on every device; this is an opportunity to get in front of them where they are most active.
  • Email marketers – good news! Millennials live in their email apps, constantly checking for updates from work and personal accounts. Tweak your message to resonate with their preferences and optimize an alreadysuccessful channel.


Fluent, Inc. is a data-driven marketing company. These surveys were conducted online within the United States by Fluent, Inc. between November 27th, 2017 and January 25th, 2018 among 2,773 adults (aged 18 and up). Due to rounding, percentages may not always add up to 100%. Fluent’s proprietary ad serving technology includes a real-time survey module that was used to facilitate the data collection for this study. Respondents were randomly selected and data was weighted to US Census 2010 population distribution.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s