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Marketing to Millennials: Trends you'll see in 2018

Mon, Jan 08, 2018

Marketers have become infatuated with the demographic of millennials. This demographic includes a group of young adults that tend to be tech-savvy and free spirited. Through trends like content marketing, purpose-driven marketing, big data, and data privacy; it is evident that marketing to millennials is becoming more essential. Even though millennials haven't hit their peak purchasing power due to economic barriers such as student loans and starting a family, marketers are finding ways to target this huge demographic. Marketers are eager to get in front of this demographic because when they have the money to spend, marketers want them to spend it on their product.  The consulting firm, Accenture, found that millennials will spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020. As a millennial myself, I was interested to see what 2018 will bring for marketers. 2018 will be jam-packed with new trends and ideas, and here are some of the important trends to keep an eye out for this year.

1. Content is key

The future of marketing is about content. Advertising is historically known for one-way communication but these days consumers are demanding a different approach. Knowing your target market and using the right content is important in our digital world.

The Furrow is a magazine that was first published by John Deere in 1865. John Deere mails this magazine to farmers to provide tips and tricks on how to keep up a successful farm. 


John Deere addressed their target market and formulated the magazine to further reach their customers. Farmers still value this magazine today just like they did over one hundred years ago.

Magazines are a useful and direct medium for marketers. Linda Thomas Brooks, President and CEO of the Association of Magazine Media said that magazines are not actually on their “way out”. Magazines are an important marketing tool in that they build a brand and sell a product at the same time. Millennials still appreciate magazines just like in the past, but they need a new medium in which to read them. Print magazines are a deeper reading experience which makes for higher comprehension. Linda Thomas Brooks found that, 

“Magazine media works because it builds brand and sells product at the same time."

-Linda Thomas Brooks, President and CEO of the Association of Magazine Media

In a magazine like Cosmopolitan, all of the ads complement the material in the magazine. To supplement their print magazine and to get millennials interested, magazines have teamed up with the app SnapChat in order to further their reading experience. Cosmopolitan's magazine is in the form of an e-book within the app. The e-books have ads embedded in them just like a magazine would have ads within the content. This ensures that the company is targeting their market in the correct way. Magazines are not dead, they are just transforming to appeal to another demographic. People see marketing in every aspect of their life whether it be an ad on print, on a website, or even on a billboard. This is why it is imperative to create the correct content for your consumers. Magazines are the perfect outlet to reach consumers and market a brand at the same time. Growing up as a millennial, I am constantly surrounded by advertisements and marketing. Only when something really catches my eye, will I pay attention to it. Content is key in marketing pieces in our society today to get your audience's attention.

2. Having a Purpose

These days, what a company does beyond making money is sometimes what draws in the consumer. When you associate your company with a social purpose people are more apt to spend money. People care where their money goes, if there is a good cause in front of them there is a lower chance of purchase dissonance. The demographic of millennials are known for being more interested in “buying an experience” than buying an actual product. Researchers at the Economist Group found that 79% of consumers prefer to purchase products from a company with a social purpose.


Tom's Shoes is known as a company with a purpose, their focus on contribution and philanthropy made national news.

  • Starting in 2006, the company promised to give one pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes sold.
  • After 10 years, the company has donated more than 60 million pairs of shoes across 70 different countries.
  • The founder, Blake Myscoski, proved that corporate philanthropy is profitable after he sold half of his company for $625 million.

The trend of "buying a brand" is highlighted in millennials' obsession with Starbucks. Millennials prefer Starbucks because they are buying an experience. If you go into a Starbucks you are likely to see a shop that looks as comfy as your living room. There are people having meetings, doing work, or meeting with their friends. Millennials are willing to pay more for this experience so this one of the reasons why the company is doing so well. 

pexels-photo (2).jpg


In 2016, Starbucks Corporation issued a $500 million U.S. corporate bond to help pay for sustainable projects. These projects included their campaign to plant a tree every time a bag of coffee was purchased. This move was made to attract millennial investors. Starbucks is a perfect example of buying an experience and they have used that to their advantage in their company endeavors.

3. Big Data Era



Big data is helping companies across industries make faster and more precise decisions. With all of the advancements in analytics technology, data scientists are becoming more important than ever. These days modern marketing must use human intelligence and technology together to be successful. There is no surprise when you hear that, The big data market will be worth 46.34 billion dollars by 2018 and 90% of the world’s data has been collected in the last 2 years.

When this era first started, companies had the ability to collect this data but did not know how to use it to maximize their marketing opportunities. Now, we have all of this data and we are finding ways in which to use it. Big data gives your marketing a competitive edge. A marketer can use big data to create campaigns focused on personalization, relative content, geography and loyalty. It ensures that you can target your customers and make them feel like a top priority. This will completely change their customer experience. There are always positives and negatives of new technology mediums but great marketers know how to use this technology.  On the good side, according to Wired,

"MIT is using big data analysis to research ways to build smarter cities that help reduce emissions, lower our cost of living, and increase the quality of life."

-Daniel Riedel

Although there is amazing potential there are some downfalls. For example, Pinterest is a social media platform that has a large population of millennial women users. The site allows to you collect images in themed folders called boards. A popular board for women, at any walk of life, is a wedding board where they collect images that they would like to use when planning their wedding. Pinterest used big data to send out an email blast to the women with these boards offering them a discount on wedding invitations. However, many of these women were not getting married and took to twitter to share this awkward mistake. We have this opportunity for data and brands need to recognize when the data is “too much”. Companies must use this data correctly and precisely to make the most money off of the data. As I said, millennials like myself, have grown up in a world filled with advertising. It is important to know that we are not easily fooled. There needs to be real substance for us to stay engaged. When something is directed towards me, I am more likely to pay attention to it. Sometimes the data is “too much” and people feel uncomfortable. People like to have a certain level of privacy on the web, having too much information about a customer can make a company/brand seem untrustworthy.

4. Privacy Protection

People are worried about where our society is going with this data and are trying to protect themselves from possible data breaches. In 2017, there were multiple data breaches making cyber-security imperative to consumers. In 2018, consumers will begin to prefer companies that protect their privacy. This will push marketers to start to use privacy protection and data security as a value proposition. Everything you do, whether it be visiting a store, visiting a website or even making a phone call makes a footprint. Marketers use this footprint to target the right customers. The Economist was quoted saying, personal data is the most valuable resource ahead of oil. This is because it helps companies communicate with their customers and improve their journey. The misuse of this data is leading customers wondering how companies use and store their data.


Due to security threats, people are increasingly more skeptical of things they read online. Brands are encountering problems online such as ad-fraud, making it hard to reach their customers in the way that they want to. Even with the advancements we see today, there is a reason why people still like to get a printed bank statement in the mail. Digital is the way of the world these days so there needs to be a mixture of both print and technology for a customer to be engaged and to trust a brand. Consumers are more worried about how their information is being used so this is why they often like the idea of having tangible print that they can lock away for safe keeping.

As a millennial, I am not alone when I say that I think that print is the most trustworthy marketing channel. I always see an ad for Ray-Ban sunglasses on my Instagram feed. When I click on the link, the ad brings me to a website that sells fake Ray-Bans at a cheap price. The website looks just like what you would think a Ray-Ban website would look like, tricking you into thinking they’re the real deal. Although the cheap price is attractive, there is the question if the sunglasses will even be sent. Also, giving my information out to a company making fake Ray-Bans is not a good idea. What that company does with your information you can’t be completely sure about. This stopped me from buying a pair of sunglasses online entirely. The internet has changed our world completely but it is important to see the negatives and the positives and learn from them. Millennials are seeing the dangers of giving out information on the internet which is why they trust print the most.

Millennials have lived in a world full of advertising for their whole lives. For many, they have never seen a world without the internet. Trends like content marketing, purpose-driven marketing, big data, and privacy security target consumers in a way that get their attention. Marketers find success when they stay forward in their thinking even though it might be difficult to keep up with new technology and updated marketing communication strategies. 

Universal Wilde is a leading full-service provider of data-driven, technology-enabled marketing communications solutions. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for more news and insights.

Categories: marketing, advertising, personalization, trending, Data Science, new year, marketing campaign, privacy protection, content marketing






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