Dear Kristen,

We’re in a vertical with a core customer base that’s typically in the 50+ age range. From reviewing our customer data, we know that there are Millennials who currently use our products and are pretty confident that there’s the potential for growth in this market. The problem is, we feel like we’re so deeply entrenched with the Boomer target audience, we don’t know the first thing about positioning our brand, company, and products among Millennials.

How do we crack the code on Millennials?


Mystified by Millennials

Dear Mystified,

Ah, Millennials. They are mysterious creatures indeed. On the one hand, they seem to be a self-absorbed, selfie-obsessed generation that is addicted to whatever the hottest tech gizmo or app might be. On the other, researchers tell us that Millennials are altruistic, socially and environmentally conscious, skeptical of advertising, and all about “being real.” If your organization is new to marketing to Millennials, this collection of contradictions may leave you confused about the best way to reach them. 

Millennials represent more than $200 billion in collective buying power, so successfully converting this segment into customers has become the Holy Grail of marketing. But many companies not only don’t know how to market to Millennials, they don’t know how to research them, either. And getting inside their heads is essential to developing an effective, targeted strategy.

Never fear, Mystified! LMD is here to drop some Millennial knowledge on you. Here are five tips based on lessons we’ve learned from our own experience researching and marketing this generation:

  1. Don’t believe the hype. “They”—social scientists, demographers, and cultural pundits—say that Millennials are tech-loving, narcissistic, and place greater value on “pet friendly work environments” than a higher salary. While it’s important to be aware of the macro demographic trends, put what “they” say about Millennials aside when designing and conducting your research. “They” don’t know anything about your brand, organization, mission, or products and services. Ditch the stereotypes and keep an open mind. Your research may uncover surprising differences between Millennials in your specific target audience and the general Millennial population.
  2. Avoid “special snowflake syndrome.” Millennials are so desired as a target market that many marketers want to treat them as if everything they think, do, and believe is utterly unique. For example, I read a recent report on Millennials’ shopping habits that provided this helpful insight: “Millennials like to walk into a retail store and receive personalized attention.” Well, what generation doesn’t like to get personalized attention when they walk into a store? When conducting your research, segment your participants by age to create a basis of comparison, and look for true differences in behaviors, attitudes, and preferences between generations.
  3. Just be yourself. Millennials can sniff out the inauthentic faster than you can type “TBH.” If you’re a non-Millennial conducting research, you may think that you have to act younger to build a rapport. But an incorrect pop-culture reference or overuse of slang will immediately identify you as, at best, trying too hard, and at worst, a poser. Be honest and upfront that you are not a member of this generation and truly want to know what they think. They’ll appreciate your candor.
  4. Keep it brief. Everyone’s attention span is getting shorter—Millennials especially. This generation is used to information being served up in sound bytes, posts, and tweets. Keep surveys and quizzes short and focused only on what you absolutely need to know to improve completion rates. Limit focus groups to no more than an hour—90 minutes, tops.
  5. Show, don’t tell. Forget paragraphs of descriptive text. Millennials are highly visual. The more you can show or demonstrate a concept, the more engaged and responsive they tend to be. Add videos, images, and even memes to your surveys. Make focus groups more interactive with videos, collaborative exercises, and co-creation activities.

Millennials don’t have to be a mystery. With the right approach and a receptive attitude, your research will reap big rewards.



Director, Insights & Strategy

Kristen works closely with clients to uncover what motivates the actions, attitudes, and beliefs of their customers—and turns these insights into actionable strategies and powerful messages that have a meaningful impact on brands and business. Experienced in secondary, qualitative, and quantitative research methods, Kristen digs deep into data to discover what makes our clients’ customers tick.Read more