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21st-Century Marketers Struggle with Things Millennials Aren’t Buying

The non-conformity of Millennial consumers challenges retail

The mid-20th century’s tried-and-true products and services do not appeal to Millennial consumers. BuzzFeed recently reported in 12 Things Millennials Aren’t Buying. Traditional marketers will have to consider Millennial consumer priorities in their promotion of formerly well-performing categories.


Here are a few things to consider when it comes to Millennial consumers:

Individual Choice. Millennials spurn mass market beer. Craft beers entering the market have edged out the mass-appeal options popular in prior decades. In other words, your dad’s beer is likely not your beer—especially if you take a photo of it for Instagram.

Convenience. Millennials avoid cold cereal and fabric softener. Cold cereals are reported to be tough sells for roughly half of Millennials, who prefer no-wait, no-mess breakfasts. When Millennials do laundry, they don’t add fabric softener, described as an incomprehensible extra step. (This might be different if they still live with their mom and she does the laundry for them. Just saying since a Millennial is writing this blog post.)

Social Consciousness. Millennials shun diamonds and golf. Diamonds have received a reputation that says diamonds may not be sourced in environmentally and socially responsive ways. Plus, Millennials often want jewelry that is “unique” rather than similar to the generations before. Golf, too, seems to be a tough sell for Millennials. Four hours in the heat with limited food and beverage service and high fees is a tough sell. However, Topgolf seems to be a perfect combination of golf, entertainment, food, drink, and music—plus a limited time commitment and you don’t have to bring your own clubs!

Major financial commitments. Millennials are making major life purchase like homes later than other generations and that is if they’re actually able to afford a home. As many Millennials still struggle financially after the Great Recession and college loan debt, they’re focusing on their immediate financial needs rather than long-term financial commitments.

Redefining healthy. Many Millennials believe that bar soap harbors germs and fast food places serve up food that is unhealthy. The CDC promotes liquid soap over bar soap as more hygienic, and Millennials have taken this advice seriously, choosing the bottle of soap over traditional soap bars. And when it comes to fast food, Millennials still want the speed of fast food but not the “pre-prepared” food that is just heated up but rather customized for you on the spot right in front you.

Marketers can attract Millennials by responding to their core values, realizing that the shopping priorities of their parents don’t apply to this group. At the same time, earning the interest of Millennial consumers as influencers across markets will create the trend-setting social proof that can build brands and sales across generations.

When was the last time a brand or marketer tried to reach out to you but their technique was completely outdated? Join the conversation on Twitter at @WhatTheGen or @JasonDorsey and don’t forget to add your #generation!

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