Mr. Stibel said there are three reasons reaching young adults is
important, two of which are not new: Marketers want to reach young
consumers as they start earning more money and forming families,
and younger generations have been the source for trends in fashion
and food. But the third reason -- the new one -- is that older
consumers are increasingly learning from their children, such as
how to use apps on smartphones.
Media companies, too, are catering to millennials. Participant
Media, the company behind films like "Lincoln" and "The Help," is
launching a cable network targeting the demographic this summer
positioned as a vehicle for content that inspires social change.
Participant believes the generation has the strong desire and
capacity to help change the world.
Technomic research seems to agree; it finds millennials place a
high value on attributes like social responsibility,
sustainability, local, organic, grass-fed and hormone-free
offerings when it comes to dining out.
Aside from being socially conscious, Participant Media said the
millennial demographic is the one that pay-TV providers are most at
risk of losing, and it believes the network could provide a new way
to watch TV. Participant acquired the Documentary Channel in
December and has agreed to buy the distribution assets of Halogen
TV from Inspiration Networks. Participant will combine and rebrand
the services as a new channel, which will be available to about 40
When it comes to using media to reach millennials, marketers are
revamping their strategies; the tried-and-true tactic of saturating
the big broadcast networks with beer ads just doesn't cut it.
MillerCoors, for instance, has struck a deal
with Turner Broadcasting that makes the marketer's brands the only
beers featured in product placements on TNT and TBS, from cans and
barware to tap-handles and even trucks, Ad Age reported last
"They grew up with DVRs. They grew up being marketed to through
video games. We have to be more relevant than 10 years ago," said
Stevie Benjamin, the brewer's media director.
Coke and Gatorade are two marketers doing something right to
reach millennials: More than half of consumers ages 13 to 34 are
drinking those beverages at least once a month, according to
Consumer Edge Research. Gatorade outperforms with people under 24,
with 57% grabbing the sports drink at least once a month. And Coke
is more popular with those older than 25, with 55% drinking the
soda at least once a month.
Coke has been aggressive in targeting youth, especially in
recent years. It has focused on music as a conduit to the cohort
and has been cultivating communities across social-media platforms.
Gatorade keeps tabs on social conversation through its "Mission
Control" monitoring center; it also connects with athletes
one-on-one through camps, as well as locker-room and sidelines
By the time marketers finally have millennials figured out, it
may be time to move on. According to U.S. Census data, 46% of
households headed by a millennial adult ages 20 to 34 in the U.S.
have kids, which means marketers will be -- or should be, anyway --
focusing on marketing to millennials as parents.
How to Make More
Generalizing for a group of people who are sometimes upwards of 15
to 20 years apart can be a dangerous move. Some demographers would
even separate millennials into a few distinct subgroups. But there
are some common themes and values held dear among all millennials.
Fresh and organic food: Millennials place an
emphasis on the importance of organic and fresh food. Fast-casual
chains do well with the demo because many of them promote a fresh
or organic message.
Variety and customizable products: In the food
world, millennials appreciate the ability to build their meals from
an array of choices. Chains like Chipotle and Subway do well in
this regard because each item is made to order.
Social change: Millennials care about social
issues and tend to support companies that are actively helping
address problems across the globe.
Sustainability: Particularly with food,
millennials value companies that are proactive with sustainable
farming practices and are environmentally conscious.
Social-savvy brands: Brands that have active
Facebook and Twitter pages and engage in conversations with
customers tend to have more long-term support from millennials.
CONTRIBUTING: ABBEY KLAASSEN, E.J. SCHULTZ, NATALIE ZMUDA,