4 marketing trends you need to follow to sell to millennials

How do you win over millennials? Columnist Khalid Saleh discusses four key trends that marketers need to pay attention to if they want to woo this highly sought-after market.

mobile-phone-millennial-woman-ss-1920Millennials are a pretty big deal. They are the largest generation since the Baby Boom. By 2018, millennials will account for $3.39 trillion in spending annually. By 2025, it’s estimated that three out of four people in any workplace will be millennials.

As a business, you’d of course want a slice of this massive market.

But it’s not just about numbers. Marketing to millennials is very different from the generations that came before them. Millennials are highly educated (63 percent of US millennials have Bachelor’s degrees) with a distrust for conventional media (only 17 percent say that they bought something because of a TV ad).

They also have an entrepreneurial mindset (54 percent have either started a company or want to start one) and swear by social media (63 percent follow their favorite brands on social channels).

If you want to win over this lucrative market, there are four marketing trends you need to follow.

1. Rise of video

Consumer video and downloads will account for over 80 percent of all internet traffic by 2020, according to a Cisco Systems study.


To give you some perspective, 300 hours’ worth of video content is pushed onto YouTube every single minute.

In fact, millennials are now watching more video content on YouTube and other streaming platforms than they are on TV.

If YouTube is growing fast, Facebook isn’t far behind. Currently, Facebook is serving close to eight billion daily video views with growth that rivals YouTube’s.


This phenomenon isn’t limited to free streaming services, either. This chart from eMarketer shows that viewership to paid platforms is also growing rapidly every year:


So what exactly are millennials watching?

Mostly TV shows, movies and music videos — formats that would be familiar to most businesses. But they are also watching a lot of other people play games and user-generated content and streaming live events.


With such massive growth, it’s no surprise that big companies like Facebook and Twitter are putting more effort into using videos in ads and news feeds. Videos are getting so popular that marketers have now started to format videos for vertical viewing.

All of this has led to a spending boom in online video. Sixty-eight percent of US marketers plan to increase their digital video budgets.

They have good reason to. Videos do a great job of selling products. In fact, 75 percent of advertisers stated that online videos are equally or more effective than traditional television ads.

According to another study by BazaarVoice, 84 percent of millennials believe that user-generated content is a good indication of a brand’s quality level.

The lesson is clear: If you want to win over millennials, you will have to invest in online video.

2. Live streaming

While online video is growing fast, there is another subset of video that is growing even faster: live streaming.

Whether it be Twitch, Periscope or Facebook Live, live streaming is exploding in popularity among millennials. It’s easy to see why: This is a generation that wants authenticity, and what’s more authentic than seeing something being streamed live in front of you?

To give you an example: Twitch has more than 100 million viewers per month, of which two-thirds are millennials.

On Periscope — Twitter’s live video service — 200 million live broadcasts were created on the service in its first 12 months. Approximately 110 years of live video is watched on the platform every day.

People also seem to love live video a lot. On Facebook, people spend three times longer watching a live video versus a recorded one.

Businesses can take advantage of live streaming by showing their audience behind-the-scenes content. Millennials love transparency and authentic stories. You can give them an unfiltered inside look at your company and build strong relationships with them.

3. Snapchat’s enormous growth

Snapchat is a platform where publicly posted pictures and videos only stay live for 24 hours — then disappear.

This ephemeral, sharing-focused format works particularly well with millennials. In just a few years since its launch, Snapchat has racked up over 150 million users.

It also has more than two billion views a day, according to a Bloomberg interview with Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, and more than 60 percent of 18- to 34-year-old US smartphone users are on Snapchat.

To give you an idea of Snapchat’s reach, DJ Khaled, a popular Snapchat celebrity, regularly averages over two million views for his short videos and pictures.

Here is a compilation of some of his Snapchat videos, so you get a better idea of the format.

Snapchat doesn’t offer live streaming, but the fact that its photos and videos disappear in 24 hours taps into the same Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) that keeps users watching live streaming on Periscope and Twitch.

There are seven millennials out of every 10 Snapchat users, making it a very important platform for businesses to market their products.

The likes of BuzzFeed, National Geographic, Mashable, Vice, ESPN and more are already creating content for Snapchat:


Other brands are promoting their Snapchat profiles over their existing social channels. Expedia’s Twitter logo, for instance, is its Snapchat profile:


If reaching out to millennials is your goal, focusing on Snapchat would be well worth it.

4. GIFs, memes and other visual content

If you’re thinking GIFs and memes are getting more and more mainstream, you couldn’t be more right. From big publications to business, everyone is using GIFs and memes to reach out to millennials.


Just how big is GIF use online?

According to The New York Times:

  • 23 million GIFs are posted on Tumblr every month.
  • Over five million GIFs are shared through Facebook Messenger every day.

It’s easy to see why GIFs are popular:

  • They are easy to create.
  • Their repetitive nature makes them more “sticky.”
  • They usually reference some existing media (such as a TV show or movie scene) which is already popular. This makes them resonate more with audiences.

While GIFs are all about movement, memes are more static but equally popular.

Just take a look at the massive growth in search trends for “memes” over the last five years:


Comparing “meme” with “gif” also shows the spike in popularity of the former after 2011:


Using memes in marketing can be challenging, but when done right, the results can be spectacular.

Virgin Media’s “success kid” meme marketing campaign is a great example of this:


Over to you

Marketing to millennials is very different from marketing to other generations. Traditional marketing media just don’t work as well for them.

Instead, focus more on visual media while taking advantage of live video to create a more genuine brand. Remember: Millennials trust transparency and authenticity, not made-up marketing narratives.

Here’s what you should take away from this post:

  • Focus on online video; it’s one of the most popular channels for millennials.
  • Millennials dominate Snapchat. Try to incorporate it into your marketing mix.
  • Invest in live video streaming to create a sense of authenticity about your business.

Some opinions expressed in this article may be those of a guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


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