Marketers have millennials down as a constantly moving target – difficult to reach and impossible to build lasting relationships with. There’s certainly some truth to that. A September 2014 Ibotta survey found the following:

60% of millennials like to change the products they buy each month to claim different cash rebates.

The survey revealed that shoppers between the ages of 25 and 34 are indeed the most cost-conscious, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t opportunity for marketers to gain their loyalty. Our new guide, “Marketing to Millennials: Engaging a Generation of Visual Buyers,” addresses exactly how to keep this generation interested. It’s available to download at the end of this page, but if you’re wondering why this matters, I’ve put together some key insights all marketers should know about millennials.

1. Don’t underestimate their purchasing power.

We all know the story: Millennials have been dealt a rough hand. Many have faced underemployment and unemployment just as they entered adulthood. Still, others who pursued higher education opportunities are dealing with debt, leaving them to put a hold on buying homes and having children.

Though the struggles they faced during the downturn means they’ve lost important ground in lifetime earnings, their wages began to increase significantly in 2013, according to a CNBC report citing data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Because millennials are set to overtake Baby Boomers as the largest living generation in the U.S. by the end of this year, they’re in a great position to carry the bulk of the spending power. Indeed, that’s slated to happen in 2017.

Marketers need to start capturing millennial consumers now in order to benefit from their loyalty later.

pew research millennials

2. They are not one-size-fits-all.

Journalists have spent a lot of time debating the laziness and arrogance of the millennial generation, but is that really fair? This generation of 75MM people is incredibly diverse.

Think about what life was like 40 years ago. By age 28, most people were already settling down – getting married, buying homes, having children. That was the norm. That’s absolutely not the case today. While some millennials are choosing to have children, others are delaying that step. While some are paying down a mortgage, others are living with mom and dad. The list goes on. There’s no blueprint to follow; millennials are choosing their own paths.

Millennials don’t see themselves as a homogenous group, so marketers shouldn’t treat them as such.

By understanding the diverse subsets that comprise Generation Y, marketers can begin to tailor their content so that it drives relevancy and affinity among consumers.

3. The ubiquity of images has made it easier for millennials to consume more content.

The prevalence of digital devices has turned us all into content creators, whether we like it or not. With new blog posts, pictures, status updates, articles, videos and so much more being published every millisecond, it’s impossible to consume everything of interest.

Images make it so much easier, and that’s exactly what people are turning to. Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram—which are all dominated by images—were the three fastest growing networks in 2014, according to GlobalWebIndex.

fastest growing social networks

Tons of advertising dollars are now being spent on video, but marketers should never underestimate the power of images for always-on millennials. A person only has so much time in the day to sit through a video, meaning that if you create one, it better be compelling stuff. Images, on the other hand, require little time to consume and often tell a story just as effectively.

4. Experiences trump things.

Social media has made it so people can peek incessantly into the lives of their peers. There’s nothing like seeing a friend experience something amazing to make you want it for yourself – whether that’s eating a beautiful lobster at a seaside restaurant, unboxing the latest Apple Watch or having an amazing time at a music festival.

In a 2014 Eventbrite survey, some 78% of millennials report that they would rather spend money on a desirable experience or event rather than buying something desirable. What does this mean for brands?
They need to go above and beyond selling products; they should be selling experiences. Take Bud Light, for example. The brand doesn’t just market beer to its customers. With its “Up for Whatever” campaign, Bud Light has done everything from collaborating with artists to putting on music shows for fans to creating a human-sized recreation of Pac-Man. It tells fans that the brand isn’t just about selling beer; it’s about having a great time whenever the opportunity presents itself.

bud light up for whatever

5. They’re incredibly influential on each other.

Social media posts from friends do more than just spark interest from friends; they drive purchases, too. In a 2014 Webby Awards survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 68% of millennials reported that they are at least somewhat likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s social media post.

webby awards millennials

What does this mean for marketers? One experience with a customer can go a long way. By encouraging their fans to post photos of products, in-store displays and more, brands can significantly extend their reach. Sigma Beauty is a brand that does a great job of motivating their fans to post for a chance to be featured on their website. This effort has paid off. Sigma currently receives 16K user-generated images every month.

Marketers should keep the inverse in mind, too. If a consumer has negative in-store or online experiences, they won’t hesitate to take photos or screenshots to share with their friends.

Learn More

Are you ready to put these insights into practice? Download our new guide to learn about 14 influential millennial segments, how to engage each through relevant imagery and five proven ways to monetize your images across multiple marketing channels.