Millennials: A Target Worth Closer Examination

This newsletter article discusses how Millennials differ from other target segments and require marketing efforts that fit their particular perspective. Building on this general knowledge, learning how target prospects in this generation specifically connect with your brand is key.


A Millennial By Any Other Name...

The Millennium Generation, often referred to as Echo Boomers, Generation-Y, and sometimes the “Entitlement Generation,” has, in general, very different needs, goals, expectations, values, and styles versus preceding generations. As such, they differ in how they use products and services, respond to advertising, spend their leisure time, view their jobs, communicate with others, and perceive themselves and the world around them.

Although precise definitions vary, it is generally accepted that Millennials are those who were born between 1980 and 2002, representing approximately 76 million people in the U.S. – comparable in size to Traditionalists born 1925 to 1945 (75 million), slightly smaller than Baby Boomers born 1946 to 1964 (80 million), and substantially larger than Generation-Xers born 1965 to 1980 (46 million). Demographically, Millennials are a highly diverse group racially and ethnically (1 of 3 is a minority). They are children of Boomers (90%). More than half live at home with their parents. They tend to change jobs often (two years is perceived as long-term), associating no stigma with this behavior. In fact, employee loyalty is a concept many Millennials view with skepticism.


They’re Not Who We Used To Be

The oldest Millennium Generation members, currently in their 20s, are key target users or prospects for many companies. However, the same marketing strategies and tactics used for older target segments are often applied with this segment, leaving marketers wondering why similar responses are not obtained. Millennials resemble the older segments in some aspects, but mostly have vastly different needs and mindsets.

Key characteristics that make these Millennials distinctive include:

  • Instant gratification expected: Used to having information readily accessible via the Internet since the age of three. Anything less is considered akin to “dial-up.”
  • Strong self-fulfillment values: Their jobs need to accommodate their families and personal lives, as well as being fun, if possible. More extreme version of Gen-Xers who seek a balance between work and their personal lives; Very different from Boomers’ more focused career orientation (both men and women), and Traditionalists’ strong work ethic by household’s breadwinner.
  • Trust and count on authority: Grew up with structured extracurricular activities and to follow the rules. Most similar to Traditionalists in this regard; Totally divergent from Boomers and Gen-Xers who tend to question and distrust authority and institutions.
  • Tech-superior: Natural part of their lives. Gen-Xers also tech-savvy; Boomers are willing to learn about technology; Traditionalists differ most from other segments as highly resistant in this area.
  • Compliant/Conventional/Conforming: Not generally risk-takers, more middle-of-the-road socially, culturally, team-oriented, want to be perceived as cooperative. Very different from Boomers who represent the idealistic “me” generation, seeking personal challenges. Most similar to Traditionalists who prefer a stable environment.
  • Perceive selves as special: Told so all their lives – raised as most child-centered generation, having grown up with family concepts such as play dates, soccer moms, family time, quality time, stay-at-home-dads, and Take-Your-Kid-To-Work Day. They expect constant feedback at work and in everything they do. Unlike the more self-reliant Gen-Xers, the competitive Boomers who seek money and recognition, and the more disciplined Traditionalists.
  • Confident: Millennials were raised to believe in themselves (although not necessarily to be decision-makers).
  • Motivated to achieve: Have high expectations of themselves, seek to make an immediate impact, and do work that has meaning. Unlike Gen-Xers’ “work to live” philosophy, Boomers’ career-building focus, and Traditionalists’ legacy-building goals.


Tools To Know Your Millennial More Intimately

Being cognizant of the generalities regarding the Millennial target is an essential starting point, but appreciating who they are on a more human level as they relate to your brand is key. It has significant implications for product and creative development, promotional activities, and other marketing efforts to ensure that all elements, in fact, resonate with this customer segment.

Various research tools and techniques are available to refine your brand’s young adult target profile. Techniques such as ConsumerDialoguersSM, Focus Group Exploratories, and ConsumerographiesSM are designed to help maximize our grasp of the relationship between your target and brand. And using projective tools such as VisualagesSM, Depth ChainsSM, Product Sorts, and Psycholage, in conjunction with in-depth probing, help to dig beneath the surface to get at that emotional bond. Gaining this understanding of your Millennial consumer in relation to the rest of your target audience and brand will prove to be invaluable as the foundation for your entire marketing program.

More information about these qualitative strategic brand tools and techniques can be found on our website:

Sources: Lancaster, Lynne, and David Stillman. When Generations Collide: Who They Are, Why They Clash, How To Solve the Generational Puzzle at Work; Armour, Stephanie, USA Today. "Generation Y: They've Arrived At Work With a New Attitude;" Breakey, Patricia. 'Entitlement Generation' Expects It All; Johnson, Meagan. mhedajournal. Zap The Gap--Managing, Training and Maintaining Your Sanity With The New Millenium Generation


This article is from Strategy Matters, a periodic newsletter from MARAfriedman Brand Strategist, which covers brand strategy issues and associated research toolbox options. More information is available at

Company profile

Mara Friedman Brand Strategist

Los Angeles, California, United States of America
(310) 470-8815
About Mara Friedman Brand Strategist:
Strategically-focused qualitative moderator, using insightful tools developed over the years to identify opportunities for brands to stand out.

other content shared by Mara Friedman Brand Strategist

Online Qualitative Research: A Powerful Tool With Amazing Benefits

Mara Friedman, MARAFriedman Brand Strategist

This newsletter article discusses a couple of the more popular types of online qualitative research techniques. The importance of understanding when these methods would be useful brand strategy tools...
Stay Visible & Relevant Or Lose Loyal Customers During The Downturn

Mara Friedman, MARAFriedman Brand Strategist

This newsletter article discusses the importance of creating demand during an economic downturn to retain brand loyalty and come out strong at the back end. To do so puts a burden on knowing one’s tar...
A Fresh Perspective on Focus Groups: Targeted Profiling

Mara Friedman, MARAFriedman Brand Strategist

This article provides a creative way for marketers to view target users that can produce more insightful findings to distinguish brands. In addition, tools for marketing planning may be generated fro...
Business-Building Focus Groups: Consumer Dialogue Monitor

Mara Friedman, MARAFriedman Brand Strategist

This newsletter article provides a means to step away from the day-to-day demands of brand marketing, and to stay in touch with customers’ needs proactively rather than having to play catch-up. It pr...

Related Market Research Specialties