How to connect with Millennials.


Marketing to a millennial is the same as marketing to anyone. Just understand who you’re talking to, highlight things they’re interested in and make it easy for them to open their wallets. With that in mind, here’s four things we reckon millennials value more than most.

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With the exception of babies called #Stormi, millennials don’t buy hype. But they do love authenticity. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. And it’s not even what you do, it’s why you do it. We’ve all seen Simon Sinek's take on "why" – that stuff really lands with millennials.

So what does that mean for your brand? That's easy. Don’t tell lies. Don’t even think lies or spin stories or shade over the shady stuff. Millennials won’t just call you on it, they’ll call you out on a public platform and bring their friends along for the ride. Don’t get me wrong, millennials aren’t the Pinocchio Police – they’re just as likely to react positively. When a Spark employee politely waved goodbye to a narrow-minded customer, the corresponding Facebook post went viral. If you believe in something and stand up for it, millennials will love it.

BRAND TIP: Know who you are, be who you are and stand for something important.


Millennials want their world, their way. It’s just what they’re used to. That means your great new digital tools aren’t great or new to a millennial. They’re hygiene. They've grown up digital and fully expect that every brand should be available on any platform, whenever they happen to need it.  

But flexibility goes further than that. Forget a 40-hour week, they're all about getting it nailed in four to focus on something that matters. Everyone’s got a side-hustle or a big idea to change the universe. And millennials believe it’s only right that they should have the time to follow their passion.

They’re really not big on contracts or commitments – be that employment or a phone company or even the subs on their favourite platforms. Having grown up in the attention economy, millennials intuitively understand the value of their attention. So if your brand doesn’t work to keep it, they’ll switch to someone else who does.    

BRAND TIP: Don't expect commitment. Attention is hard-earned and easily lost. 


Millennials grew up on reality TV. While Generation X got excited by Warhol and the whole idea of fifteen minutes of fame, millennials are living it. They were young the first time we went home with the Osbournes. But they literally grew up with the Kardashians and now millions of millennials openly vlog and share their lives with anyone who’s listening. And guess what? People do. Over 100,000 YouTubers have over 100,000 subscribers. That’s a whole lot of people with a whole lot of audience talking to each other on the net.

But it’s not just the tech that’s changed the landscape. Millennials look up to their celebrities. An insta post of a celebrity wearing your shoes will have more commercial impact than an ad about how brilliant they are – even if the ad has that celebrity in it. But it goes both ways. Just last week, a tweet from Kylie Jenner wiped $1.3 Billion off Snapchat’s market value. There’s money in being hot right now, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be hot forever. Brands chasing millennial favour need to keep reinventing to stay in the game. 

BRAND TIP: Millennials celebrate the cool kids, they need a reason to associate with your brand.


Millennials are far less interested in brands for the sake of brands. They thrive on life-hacks and less packaging and stuff that works. An article in Adage talks to the way supermarket house brands are growing year on year. And it makes sense. Why buy Uncle Ben’s when rice is just rice, right? There’s a sense of millennial pride in beating the system and buying at a better price.

Adage explains the change by pointing to the influence of the GFC and the lack of mass media brand advertising. But it goes deeper than that. Millennials like authenticity, remember. They just won’t buy utility brands for the sake of brand. You have to be unique and useful, make things easy – and ideally do something good in the world. MyFoodBag is a millennial idea, EatMyLunch is the same, but does good. So it's better. And why buy the latest Sleepyhead triple-coil mattress when Casper® wraps one up and delivers it in a box, with charm?

BRAND TIP: Be genuinely useful. Ideally, be useful with a greater purpose.


Peel back to basics, and millennials are just like anyone else. They love to feel loved, they like to have fun and they want to make a difference in the world. But when it comes to marketing, they’re different. They value authenticity, they thrive on flexibility, they like simplicity and utility – and they’re big into celebrity.

They’re also the biggest generational cohort in history. There's a million millennial New Zealanders right now. And by 2030, millennials will earn two-thirds of the cash on the planet. So it's well worth getting to know them.

And where do you find them? That's a whole different question. But you can guarantee there’s a whole lot of very valuable millennial conversations buzzing around the internet with hipster beard trimming tips and vegan recipes – most likely on a social platform you’ve never even heard of.

That's what I reckon, what do you think?

Michael Goldthorpe