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Why Are Marketers So Obsessed with Millennials?



Arguably one of the most used (probably overused) words in a marketer’s vocabulary has to be “millennial”, a term that represents society’s young adults and is often associated with words like “tech-savvy,” “self-absorbed,” and “free spirited.” And while these adjectives may apply to some members of this group, one could easily argue that other generations possess these same qualities – after all, I’m sure most of us could think of several baby boomers that not only own the latest tech, but are well-versed in its features.

It certainly begs the question of how different Millennials are from their parents and grandparents, and there’s been no shortage of research to try and find out.

From understanding their purchasing habits to how brand loyal they are, many companies have hired consulting firms just to try and figure out this group.

But why are marketers so captivated by the millennial generation? And is this fixation on them worth it?

The Importance of Millennials to Brands

In the U.S. alone there are about 80 million millennials, making them larger than any other demographic in the country. There are also more Millennials in the workforce than other generations, with an expected $1.4 trillion in disposable income by the year 2020.

There hasn’t been such a fixation on marketing to a specific generation since the baby boomers, and so many consumers outside of this demographic are left wondering why they’re being ignored. Older generations are currently in their prime when it comes to spending ability, so why is their money not seen as valuable as Millennials’?

It’s all about the long-term potential.

While many Millennials haven’t hit their peak purchasing power due to student loans and starting a family, they are certainly heading that way, and brands realize the importance of getting in front of them early. But marketers should take care in making sure that they aren’t alienating other groups of consumers in the process.

Focusing too much on a mobile-first mentality, over-appealing to Millennials’ tech-driven nature, and straying completely away from traditional marketing mediums could indicate that you are solely focused on targeting younger generations, which might make perceived outsiders rethink their brand loyalty.

It’s also important to remember that Millennials have grown up surrounded by advertising anywhere and everywhere they go, so they’re not going to be easily fooled by marketing messages. They know how important their demographic is to company sales, and they aren’t going to play into advertising schemes or games unless they have some real substance.

In fact, they’ll likely get a bad taste in their mouth and seek out an alternative option.

Understanding This Diverse Generation

At the surface, it’s easy to think that the Millennial generation can be generalized into simple categories. They don’t go anywhere without their smart phones, they’re obsessed with social platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, and they’re more open-minded when it comes to social issues like climate change. So why are brands spending valuable marketing dollars to study their psychographics and behaviors so meticulously?

It’s because the “Millennial way” of thinking varies quite significantly from traditional corporate views. A Millennial’s mindset is typically considered to be decentralized, meaning they don’t automatically follow societal norms and instead conduct research to develop their own opinions. Corporate structures, on the other hand, generally lend themselves to a more centralized view – one that’s less personalized and focuses on a mass-market approach.

Marketing is certainly beginning to adopt more of a personal, engaging stance, especially with the prominence of social media in most company marketing strategies. But while a brand might do a great job of interacting with its social media followers or email subscribers, do consumers feel that personalization once they get down to purchasing a particular product or service? Generally not.

With the wide range of options available to consumers and a strong awareness of pushy marketing tactics, the challenge is on to cut through the clutter in a non-interruptive way.

This is why mediums like social media and less traditional marketing efforts are now playing such a strong role. You have to find a healthy balance between brand awareness and product promotion to ensure Millennials don’t feel manipulated and are encouraged to take action.

Long-Term Brand Loyalty

The most significant benefit to attracting a Millennial audience is their potential long-term value to a brand. However, a common misconception is that they aren’t brand loyal because there are always new and improved products entering the market.

In reality, 1 in 5 Millennials say that they would willingly choose the same brand as their parents, just for different reasons (e.g. social media, mobile presence). So maybe this group isn’t as disloyal as marketers think.

It’s easy to focus so much on grabbing attention that you forget about the fact that you want these individuals to keep coming back to your brand. Price is certainly an important factor to Millennials, with 56% switching brandsbecause of price or a change in their financial situation.

Another factor that impacts brand loyalty is how modern a brand is perceived to be. Companies that don’t have a mobile-friendly website, don’t utilize social media, or focus too much on product promotion could be perceived as outdated and undesirable to this generation. And Millennials place a strong emphasis on brands that “get them.”

When it comes to reasons why they might switch brands, the availability of something new and peer recommendations are the biggest influencers. So while it’s true that Millennials are always looking to check out the latest and greatest, they’re still influenced by more traditional marketing, like recommendations and word of mouth. To best capitalize on this group both now and down the line, it’s important to listen and respond to them like you would any other generation. Listening to customer questions, feedback, and complaints is essential to creating and maintaining a positive reputation with consumers.

At the end of the day, the authentic brand will be the successful one.

Not Everyone is Convinced

Even though it seems like most brands have jumped on the Millennial bandwagon, some are holding out – there’s still some skepticism as to why marketers are focusing so heavily on this group and seemingly forgetting about the others. And rightfully so.

The baby boomer generation currently possesses 80% of the developed world’s wealth, so why would you want to ignore them? Even if they don’t have as much long-term value as Millennials, there’s money in their pockets right now that they are looking to spend. Brands should never focus their marketing on just one generation unless their products and services are only applicable to that group.

For instance, while a selfie stick manufacturer probably won’t be making a lot of sales to baby boomers, Apple is selling iPads to a wide range of consumers.

It’s also hard to figure out the best way to target the Millennial generation because there is so much diversityamong them. Millennials pushing 30 years old don’t typically have the same purchasing power or interests as those who are just entering college, even though they fall into the same generation. On one hand, recent graduates might have more disposable income because they’re entering full-time jobs for the first time in their lives, while others may be paying back loans and starting a family.

You can’t make simple generalizations for this group – or any demographic for that matter.

How Should Marketers Manage Millennials?

There’s no arguing that the Millennial generation possesses a lot of potential purchasing power and brand loyalty, so it’s important to develop a marketing strategy to cater to their highly digital nature. However, it’s also important to never alienate customers to target a specific demographic, so campaigns should include a variety of elements to appeal to all of these groups.

No matter what, there will always be brands trying to capitalize on the “it” generation of the moment. Right now, it’s Millennials as they enter adulthood and their peak spending years. In a decade, Generation Z will likely become the focal point as Millennials become older and more established. It’s a cycle that will repeat itself over and over again.

And, ultimately, it’s the brands that can find a way to cater to each of these groups simultaneously that will see the most brand loyalty and long-term success.


About the Author

This article was written by Kim Speier of Social Media Today. Social Media Today is an online community and resource for professionals in marketing, social business, communication, customer experience, content marketing and digital strategy, or any other discipline where a thorough understanding of social media is mission-critical.Kim is currently an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Mainstreethost, a digital marketing agency in Buffalo, NY. As a regular contributor to the Mainstreethost blog, she enjoys writing about social media, SEO, content marketing, web design, and mobile technology. In her free time she enjoys watching the Bills and Sabres, skiing during the long Buffalo winters, and keeping up with the latest trends on Twitter.

Callum Connects

Bryan Choo, Founder of



Bryan Choo gets excited by executing great digital campaigns for his clients.

What’s your story?
Inspired by TripAdvisor and then later Buzzfeed, I created a hyper-local portal in Singapore 4 years ago. now reaches over half the population each month and we have over 100 employees.

What excites you most about your industry?
There’s a certain thrill that goes along with content creation because results are sometimes impossible to predict. Those with strong ideation skills tend to do well and on digital media. How well your campaign did is known to everyone through the public engagements the posts get. So executing great campaigns for brands brings me a lot of satisfaction.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore; a very modern country that offers the best of both worlds. In Singapore, we have access to the latest in technology and very competitive prices. We can tap into skilled labour such as IT from Myanmar and design/videography from the Philippines. Should we venture into production or E-comm, we have access to extremely cheap raw materials. We’re just a 5 hour flight away from China.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Most APAC regional offices are located here, making it easier to get approval since we deal directly with the decision makers.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To think of ourselves more as a publisher and not a review website.

Who inspires you?
Oliver Emberton, Mark Manson, Charlie Houpert and Tim Urban. They are all amazing content creators.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I discovered a franchise that used an amazing way of growing content regionally through user-generated content and hashtags.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
To focus on content geared to social audiences from day one. The biggest mistake of most traditional players is just focusing on SEO-driven content, which does not do well on Facebook. We started off like that but we adapted quickly and that’s when our business took off.

How do you unwind?
I used to play computer games, now I exercise and get lots of satisfaction looking at my fitbit results.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
South Korea. I love the food and weather there.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Shameless plug for your business:
Apart from TSL, we also run three other websites. which focuses on news, which focuses on food and which focuses on female-centric content.

How can people connect with you?
Drop me an email at [email protected]

Twitter handle?

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

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Is International Women’s Day just another Tokenism?



Yearly on 8th March around the world, we celebrate a day for women. This year that was 2 weeks ago, before this article was published.

A Question for You:

Did we change for the better after that day? or

Did we just all go back just to Business as Usual?

And if so, why?

As a psychologist and conscious leadership coach, I work to change mindsets to do more good in the world. We all know bad habits are hard to change. Ignoring Women talent and needs is a bad habit. Calling attention to it once in a while is simply not just not enough, it also assuages leadership guilt. The guilt alone does not lead to sustainable efforts to transformation.

We all know one International Women’s Day yearly is simply not enough.

One women’s group in your company is not enough.

One women’s breakfast in the technology conference is not enough.

One Women’s March is not enough.

But it is the start.

It is the start and we need to join forces to truly take it beyond tokenism.

Join forces with leaders who read #MeToo and ask themselves what we must do today to reduce and end such harassment. Join forces with tech leaders who are aware of the power of money and resources lying in the hands of a few heightens potential bullying and unwanted sexual advances. Join forces with leaders who actively act to counter or stop abuses and want to create new workplace cultures. Join forces with Leaders who promote women on merit, but who also look to sponsor, mentor, and support more women to the senior leadership tracks.

We need a critical mass to tip Gender Parity to become the new norm. We need to dialogue and language new ways of being and leading in the world. We need daily, weekly, monthly habits to make gender parity the daily actionable. What is your daily actionable to not just gender parity, but inclusion and diversity in all aspects of our work and life? Let’s build the momentum by increasing connections across companies, countries, and communities. This article brings insight to what we can do next and communities you can support.

On March 8th, at 1880 ( , a private club which believes that conversations can inspire change and a better world , the Salon discussion was on “Undressing Feminism”. Participants spoke frankly about unwanted sexual advances and what both men and women can do to stop work and national or religious cultures where such actions are deemed normal. One husband joked about how he told his wife he was attending the event and she told him to shut up and listen carefully. We were all listening carefully and we spoke as a group with a transparency that is rarely found in conservative Asian culture and even in rather Westernized Singapore.

Who we heard from:

Matthew Spacie at Magic Bus

He spoke of his work in the non-profit and called out the terrifying statistics that should not be hidden or ignored.

This is an average Indian girl’s gender based obstacles throughout her lifetime

There are about 600 million women in India. They have the highest rate of infanticide of girls. Women are 56 times more likely to die before the age of 5 years as compared to boys.  If a girl does get to go to school; up to 53 percent drop out and only 1 percent graduate. 40 % of the women are married off as children.  If she gets to have a job, 40% are in unregulated work which means they can be bullied, paid less, and anything else without any external regulatory bodies to assist.

Aware’s Executive Director, Corinna Lim:

If the vision is – a society where there is true gender equality – where women and men are valued as individuals free to make informed and responsible choices about their lives. Then we look towards Aware, Singapore (  as a resource – for their mission is to remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes.

In fact, after the #MeToo movement came out, there were 80% more calls to sexual harassment center in Singapore. And Corrina shared how one in ten women in Singapore has been physically abused by a man. Do know that AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre (, the only centre that supports victims of sexual assault and harassment  can be reached at  +656779 0282.

Survivor of War, Human Trafficking, and Sexual Assault, Lurata Lyon:

Forgiveness is what is needed to heal and also to take the lessons and give ourselves strength. She shared how she was molested in Singapore by a British expat and she immediately grabbed his phone to keep him there while she called the police. Her two children were with her and thankfully a local pregnant woman came and stood by her as the man tried to force her hand to let go of his phone. She reminded the audience that this could not have been the first time this man acted in this unacceptable manner, yet how many others had let his behavior slip through our silence.

Asian Feminist Role Model, Activist, and Burlesque Artist, Sukki Singapora:

“Someone has got to be brave. If it is not you, it’ll have to be someone else. So make it you.”

Sukki braved her family’s strict culture and Singapore’s public indecency laws to fully express herself in her choice of art and profession, burlesque. She left us wondering why should sensuality be repressed? What is the world so afraid of? Her choice of expression was initially considered a crime in the public decency act of Singapore. Now she is a champion and face of freedom of expression for women in socially restrictive countries.

These conversations can evoke small changes in public consensus which will bring about swift changes in the societal consensus, that’s why we have political debates during the elections.  We are part of that dialogue, debate, and actionable steps and accountability. It’s our call to not let International Women’s Day fall on deaf ears. Let’s not just have one token discussion on one day set aside, but make such discussions a daily act.

Thanking Matthew, Corinna, Lurata, Sukki, and Marc Nicholson panel moderator and co-founder, 1880 for allowing their stories to inspire and confront us all again with the unknowing discrimination and bullying we may be supporting under our own roofs.

Like this piece?

See my article on International Women’s Day

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