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Marketing to Millennials 2021: What You Need to Know

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

I've been conducting a lot of research about millennials lately, and thought I'd share my interesting findings with you as it might be applicable to your business, considering how large and relevant this generation is.


Millennials are a generation of people born between 1981 and 1996. In 2021, this includes people ranging from 25 to 40 years old. They make up the largest generation population in Canada and United States.


Jump to a topic of your choice:

  1. Importance of audience research

  2. A majority of millennials are working from home & loving it

  3. Millennials want a change in home environment

  4. The environment is a priority for millennials

  5. Millennials are cautious about their spending

  6. Online shopping is the hot trend of 2021


Importance of audience research

Now, more than ever, COVID has triggered a large change in consumer behaviours, with nation-wide lockdowns, restrictions and a seemingly new normal. All of our assumptions and insights about our pre-pandemic target audience should be re-evaluated, as consumer behaviours are changing drastically in ways that we could have never predicted before.


If you own (or are marketing for) a business, you should invest some time reviewing recent research data about your target audience's behaviours to see how consumers are evolving with the "new normal". Use your research insights to inform your innovated marketing strategy.


To save you some time, I've done the research for you and summarized key highlights on the latest findings to date (as of April 2021) for your millennial marketing strategy.


*Research findings are extracted from studies done in Canada and the United States.


A majority of millennials are working from home & loving it

It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that a majority of millennials are now working from home. Out of these millennials working from home, more than half (roughly 60%) would seek the option to work remotely going forward, even beyond the economy opening up and restrictions being lifted.


Some reasons millennials seek to WFH include the benefits of reduced cost of living in addition to reduced spending on things like transportation, clothing, dry cleaning and beyond. Up to two thirds of these millennials have also reported that they're more able to have a work/life balance.


What does this mean for your marketing strategy targeting millennials?

You may want to tailor your message towards speaking to this new lifestyle millennials have adopted, including their change in commute routine, their time spent at home, or perhaps their new work/life balance. By using this consumer insight in your messaging, you are directly engaging with your target audience, making your advertising efforts more relatable to them.


Example: If you are selling candles, speak to the WFH millennial audience on how your candles can elevate their work day at home and bring calmness to their home work space.


Millennials want a change in the home environment

With a lot more millennials spending more time at home, they have much more free time (due partly to less commuting) and more savings. As a result, their attitudes towards home buying have evolved.


According to Royal LePage's study, almost half of Canadians between 25 and 35 currently own a home and a quarter of these homeowners purchased during the pandemic. For millennials who don't currently own a home, a whopping 68% of them plan to purchase one in the next 5 years!


These are what millennials are looking for in their new home:

  • Backyard space

  • Home office space

  • Fully detached house

  • Proximity to green space/parks

  • Proximity to family/friends

  • Home gym space

What does this mean for your marketing strategy targeting millennials?

If you're in real estate, interior design, furniture or home goods industry, take this into consideration. Speak directly to your audience's itch to move and their dream to have an outdoor space, home office etc. Engage with them and let them know your brand understands their needs and wants.


Example: Let's say you are a Realtor and you are selling a house with a backyard space and an office den. Highlight those key features in your advertising to millennials, describe their dream home and their urge to move to a bigger space to accommodate to their new lifestyle.


The environment is a priority for millennials

Over half (58%) of millennials who took the Deloitte survey are actively making an effort to reduce carbon emissions. Examples of this include taking more public transport, reducing unnecessary plastic usage and reducing their fast fashion purchases.


With 83% of millennials agreeing that climate change is cause primarily driven by humans, this generation is keeping an eye out for businesses that are eco-friendly and sustainable.


What does this mean for your marketing strategy targeting millennials?

If you're a product-based business, be conscious of what goes into your product as this generation (and Gen Z's- or those born in the late 90's and later) has high awareness of its eco footprint. Is it possible to use a more sustainable alternative? What about your packaging? Can you change it to use biodegradable materials? If you're doing these things, are you making sure that your customers are made aware ?


Example: A great real-life example is how Lush has lived up to its sustainability and anti-animal cruelty intentions, and how it has applied this to all of its marketing efforts. Read more about it here.


Millennials are cautious about their spending

According to a survey done by Equifax Canada in collaboration with BEworks, adults 18 to 34 years of age are noticeably more cautious and concerned about their financial future as a result of the pandemic. Cautious spending has been reflected in a higher rate of decline in credit card spending, with younger adults spending 16% less compared to adults over 35 years and older (12.6%)


The top 2 reasons for cautious spending were:

1. Less job security due to the pandemic

2. Carrying too much debt

“COVID-19 has created the perfect storm for Canadians to experience a scarcity mindset. A feeling of not having enough- be it time, money, or social companionship can exert a toll by taking mental energy away from financial decision-making and making it more likely for cognitive biases like loss aversion and present bias to drive financial behaviours,” said Kelly Peters, CEO & Co-Founder of BEworks.


What does this mean for your marketing strategy targeting millennials?

If you're in the finance industry, provide resources that can help millennials feel more confident and educated on money. Be the thought leader they can rely on to get useful financial information during this volatile time.


Example: If you're an accountant, create blog posts with financial literacy tips, how to cut on business costs effectively, and/or how business owners can improve their cashflow.


Note: With millennials now being more cautious than ever of their spending, your business needs to give your customers an even better reason for why they should be purchasing your products instead of saving money.


Your branding needs to be strong, and it's now more important than ever for your advertising to focus on your customers' needs and wants. Invest in a marketing professional to help you. Contact me if you have any questions about how to strengthen your brand.


Online shopping is the hot trend of 2021

It's no doubt that online shopping has picked up since the pandemic began- especially for our tech-savvy millennial generation who were already online shoppers pre-pandemic.


In McKinsey's pulse survey (June 2020), millennials (and the Gen Z generation) had the greatest intent to online shop for essential and non-essential items compared to other generations. This is supported by Deloitte's survey which found up to 52% of millennials prefer online grocery shopping compared to in-person shopping.


However, when it comes to online shopping, there are a few things that frustrate our millennial audience. The top 3 things that millennials dislike about online shopping are: 1. Waiting for deliveries

2. Unpredictability of fit

3. Paying for delivery fees


What does this mean for your marketing strategy targeting millennials?

1. Consider making your products/services available online if you haven't already.

2. Evaluate your shipping time- is there a way to shorten this time? If not, how can you make the waiting experience better for your customer? Do you have a tracking process that keeps your customer updated on each step of way?

3. Make the online customer experience easier. Can you implement a virtual platform that allows your customers to experience your product? Examples of this include virtual showhomes or virtual eye-glasses to try on. Can you hire a copywriter to bring your product to life, with detailed, engaging product or service descriptions?


Example: I recently had a great experience purchasing prescription eye glasses from EyeBuyDirect, an online eye wear store. The website had a virtual try-on tool that let me visualize how I would look like with a pair of EyeBuyDirect glasses- this experience led me to make a purchase.

Once I purchased the glasses, EyeBuyDirect provided me with frequent updates from my confirmation order, to when they were getting made, to when they were shipped out. This personalized tracking system was a great experience, as it made me feel like I was part of their process despite having to wait for two weeks until it arrived.


TIP: Use marketing tactics like email marketing to make the online shopping experience smoother, now that you're aware of the top three frustrations millennial have with e-commerce sites.


Key Takeaways

Here's a quick summary of the key points you should consider when advertising to millennials in 2021:

  1. Majority of millennials are working from home, and would like the option to continue doing so when restrictions lift.

  2. Millennials want a change in their home environment, they're looking for more space to accommodate their work, gym and outdoor activity.

  3. Millennial consumer behaviours are influenced by the environmental impact of their purchase decisions.

  4. Millennials are more cautious than other generations when spending due to less job security and debt accumulation.

  5. Online shopping is trending and millennials dislike waiting for deliveries, the unpredictability of fit and paying for delivery fees.

Did you find this helpful? Send me a message if you have any questions and follow me on Instagram for more tips!