Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

How to Market to Millennials in 2018

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials are the largest consumer group in United States history. They even surpass baby boomers by over 15 million people, making them some of the most frequent shoppers out there. With their spending totals nearing $600 billion each year, marketers are doing anything they can to come up with the next creative advertising technique that will resonate with their interests. But is it working?

Statistically, promotional products are the most effective form of advertising for millennials. Not only do the items make them feel important, but they help draw crowds at an event. In fact, 47% of millennials go to a branded event just because of the swag they come home with. We can’t blame them! There’s nothing more exciting than walking into event and seeing all the free stuff you’ll come home with.

While millennials are usually known for their above average texting speeds, sharp wit, and their obsession with social media, let’s not forget they are the next generation of consumers. They’re starting to buy houses and cars, making it more important than ever to appeal to their buying needs. As such, there’s no better time than now to rethink your marketing strategy!

Marketing to Millennials

We all want our brand to be the next Amazon, but there are a few things to consider before diving head-first into your marketing strategy. First and foremost: Is your product or service inherently geared toward a younger crowd, or is your ideal customer a seasoned business professional who is looking to purchase software or trade stock? These are all important things to consider, given that you probably wouldn’t want to make Snapchat advertisements a priority if you work for a nursing home.

The good news is whether you own a trendy clothing boutique or a law firm, there are plenty of ways to stay relevant with the millennial generation:

  1. Establish authenticity. Millennials don’t want to feel like your brand doesn’t have personality. To many, companies should be as transparent and relatable as their peers. By planning community events in your area or sponsoring local fundraisers, you’ll be able to get out and meet your audience in-person. If you have a tight budget and events are harder to plan, be sure to experiment with Facebook live and Instagram stories. Both of these options will add some character to your brand without having to spend a dime.
  2. Hand out branded items. Let’s be real, here. Nobody loves freebies more than millennials. Whether it’s fidget spinners or PopSockets™, 80% of them will keep the product for over a year. At the end of the day, they enjoy having a way to physically identify with your company and a token that proves they were at the event. Not to mention, when your brand becomes part of their daily life, they relate to you on a more personal level.
  3. Go light with the marketing. If there’s one thing millennials are better at than any other generation, it’s sniffing out phoniness and solicitation. It’s the reason why you won’t see them picking up the phone during infomercials or opening coupon mailers. With so many businesses competing for their attention, they want to feel autonomous in their purchasing decisions. Overdoing it and begging for attention will only put you on the bottom of their list.
  4. Say adiós to cold calls and print ads. Not only will millennials screen your calls, but they’re simply not interested in being solicited in such an intrusive way. They value their sense of space, and when you’re calling nonstop or bombarding them with letters in the mail, they’ll be wishing they invested in a brand repellent.
  5. Collaborate with influencers. Social media isn’t just affecting the way we connect with our friends and family, it’s completely revolutionizing the way we shop online. In fact, non-celebrity social media influencers like Casey Neistat and or Kandee Johnson are 10 times more likely to encourage in-store purchases. Reach out to your industry’s most influential social media superstars. It could transform your brand!

What Millennials Value

Everyone thinks the products in their shop are revolutionary. Yes, other companies make something similar, but yours is different! Sound familiar?

The truth is, unless you’re in an incredibly niche industry, someone is probably already doing what you do. It’s more important than ever to think outside of the box and brainstorm how your company is going to actually impact the lives of your customers, not just how you’re going to get them to buy from you.

Of the things millennials value the most, corporate social responsibility is one of the most important. According to the American Marketing Association, 70% of them will spend more money on brands who support causes they care about. If your industry is plagued by self-interested businesses, try incorporating philanthropy into your business model. How can your brand make the world a better place?

In addition to making your customers feel good about shopping with you, it’s important to have the same impact on your employees. Consider putting together an employee welcome kit for all new hires and have it ready on their desk. Whether you include custom water bottles or cell phone wallets, the fun swag they receive on their first day is sure make them feel appreciated.

Promotional Products for Millennials

Custom pens or stress balls are great marketing materials for any business, but if you’re aiming to impress a younger crowd, you’ll want to do something a little more unique. One of the best ways to reach them is by offering retail-inspired items. Take a look at some of our favorites!


Whether you’re a small startup or you’ve been around for 15 years, don’t miss out on marketing to one of the biggest groups of consumers in the United States. By going the extra mile and creating unique content, you’re showing your brand is compassionate, relevant, and worthy of being purchased from. Who knows, you might end up being the next hit brand millennials go wild about on Instagram! Make sure you’re prepared for your next marketing campaign by stocking up on modern promotional products that will keep your company relevant and fresh.



Ames, E. (n.d.). Millennial Demand for Corporate Social Responsibility Drives Change in Brand Strategies. Retrieved May 15, 2018, from

Fry, R. (2018, March 01). Millennials projected to overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Retrieved May 15, 2018, from

The 10 Millennial Marketing Statistics Every CMO Must Know. (2017, March 16). Retrieved May 15, 2018, from

Vaughan, C. (2018, March 16). Non-Celeb Influencers 10 Times More Likely to Drive In-Store Purchases. Retrieved May 15, 2018, from

Who Are Millennials. (n.d.). Retrieved May 15, 2018, from

Kelsey Brown

Kelsey LOVES to write and she'll always make sure you're using the correct form of "your." But when she isn’t writing, she can usually be found chasing around her two rabbits, hanging at local wineries or watching an episode of Friends for the 574th time.


  1. Candice J.

    I think I would be most considered Millennial Mom. To be honest the quote for millennial Mom is me to a “T”. I’m extremely family orientated and digital savvy. I’m def. of the technology age and take a lot of solace in it as far as my source of information and shopping. Although I’m not older I think being a mom actually pushed me into this category. So when things are aimed towards this type of shopper I’m usually first in line to buy. Great post!

    • Amy Swanson

      It’s so cool there’s a category that does fit you so perfectly, Candice! After reading the description again, it totally does fit you 🙂 I hope companies are listening and taking note!

  2. Jill Tooley

    Very interesting!!

    I’d say I fall somewhere between “Hip-ennial” and “Clean and Green Millennial,” even though neither of them fit me exactly. I love technology as much as the next person, but my needs are pretty simple and BY NO MEANS do I run out to buy the newest gadgets when they’re announced (like some of my friends). But, I’m immensely cautious when buying products and I definitely consult social media to judge a brand’s enthusiasm about engagement. See, Millennials are even more complex than we’ve ever imagined! 😉

    Where do YOU fit in?

    • Amy Swanson

      I totally agree with you 100% Jill on your categories. Very interesting, indeed!

      Haha, how’s this for complex? I’m a combination of: “Hip-ennial” (I’m always hungry for information), “Anti-Millennial” (I love comfort and familiarity over change and interruption), and a splash of a “Gadget Guru” (I push and contribute to content online). I guess it works better for Millennials to be in as many categories as possible because it increases the chances a marketer can grab our attention with advertising.

  3. Rachel

    I think I’m closest to a “Hip-ennial,” mostly because I’m a cautious consumer, information hungry, and I use social media a lot but don’t really contribute to it much myself.

    I’ve always found this type of profiling of demographics quite fascinating, but it never makes sense to me why they don’t focus on shorter time spans. Ages 16 to 34? That’s less than 20 years, but it’s still such a huge range of experiences! That encompasses my older brother, who grew up in an entirely different generation than me and with an entirely different perspective on life, and my youngest cousins, who have never known life without the Internet. And then me in the middle. So many different perspectives and experiences there … it just seems like too large of a sample population, but maybe that’s just me. 🙂

    Anyway, this is still all really interesting! Thanks for breaking it down. 🙂

    • Amy Swanson

      While reading the study the first thing that crossed my mind was the wide age gap that was sampled. There’s a lot of differences between these ages that I think could give different results and skew the information. How many 16 year olds are out there doing their own shopping for green cleaning supplies? Probably a significantly smaller number than 34 year olds.

      The results from the study were quite fascinating, but I would love to see what the responses were based on age. My older cousins who are in their 30’s refuse to use any social media whatsoever, but that doesn’t mean the entire Millennial generation is anti-social media.

      I agree there are some flaws, but I’m glad you still found it interesting 🙂 Thanks for commenting!

  4. Alex Brodsky

    I’d say I’m the closest to the Hip-ennial, cause I’m super hip (do the kids still use that word today?). I agree with Rachel that it’s far too wide of an age range, especially when looking at who you market a product for.

    There are things I use now, at the strapping age of 27, that I would NEVER have thought of buying when I was 20 years old (checkered shorts, I’m looking in your direction) and will certainly NOT be buying by the time I turn 32 (still looking at you, checkered shorts).

    Cool post!

    • Amy Swanson

      I’m right with you on the ages being too wide to really get a good representation. Using cars as an example; at sixteen I wanted a green Volkswagon Beetle, but now I would feel ridiculous driving one, and at 34 I may want a mini-van or a small SUV for carting around the kiddos with. Different ages have vastly different priorities that have to be taken into account.

      Since you brought it up, what kind of checkered shorts are we talking about? Like plaid ones? Or chess board print??

      • Alex Brodsky

        Mainly the plaid, but I think I have a pair of chess board print ones too (they may have accidentally been dyed a bit pink in a load of laundry though)

        • Amy Swanson


          • Eric

            If you’re talking plaid – namely, cotton madras – the good news is, it’s fashionable for the summer season regardless of age. However, you may want to opt for the lightweight pants as opposed to the shorts when you start getting up there in your years.

            They look dressier. They’re harder to notice when wrinkled (thanks, busy pattern!), and if you’re not feeling incredibly adventurous, get a paid with a monochromatic plaid.

            There’s my GQ moment for the day. The more [fashion] you know, kids.

  5. Mandy Kilinskis

    I am a hybrid: the Hip-ennial Gadget Guru. I’m definitely globally aware, hungry for information, and a huge social media user, but I also develop and push content, feel like this decade rules, and own a ridiculous amount of gadgets. I love gadgets: I begged and pleaded and demanded a Palm Pilot for my 11th birthday. (Note, I did not get a Palm Pilot, but I DID get a different PDA – SCORE.)

    But I’m still with Rachel and Alex here. 16-34 is a huge age difference. While 16-year-olds squeal over Justin Bieber, I network on Twitter, and my cousins in their early thirties don’t even have Facebook. Those are huge differences.

    • Amy Swanson

      You are totally a “Gadget Guru”, Mandy! You’re my go-to gal for anything tech related, haha.

      I really wish they would have split up the ages and given groups based on them. Like 16-21, 22-27, 28-33 groups. There’s still differences in maturity and goals, but at least a high school sophomore and a college freshman would have more in common with each other compared to a high school sophomore and someone completing their thesis in grad school 😉

  6. Jen

    I think if I had to categorize myself I would be in the Hip-ennial group. I use social media all the time, but I don’t contribute my own content. I am of below average employment and I am environmentally conscious (most of the time). I like to think I could make the world a better place 🙂 Great post, this marketing is so interesting.

    • Amy Swanson

      Thanks Jen 🙂

      I find it so interesting that some people clearly fit into one category while others are a complex mixture. No one category is better than another, just different tastes and values.

      So glad you enjoyed this post and found it interesting!

  7. Eric

    Well, if it’s not painfully obvious which category I’d lean toward. The term (“Millenial”) is just grating, though, man. Grating. I understand marketing is incredibly dependent upon demographics to determine who is more likely to purchase their product than someone else. The fact, however, that they’ve created a generation that lumps together high school adolescents with folks who’re already with children and families? Completely defeats the idea of organizing people apart from another by demographic.

    Alright. It’s about that time to go and avoid the internet. 🙂

    Nice post!

    • Amy Swanson

      Yeahhhh, I’d love to know their logic with the lumping of that large of an age group together. It seems weird to me too. Maybe they wanted to get this study out and published ASAP so they cut a few corners? I’m not sure. It’s very odd though and does seem to defeat the purpose of segmenting an already large population into smaller groups.

      Now go be that “confident, independent, self-directed” old school millennial that we all know and love 😉

  8. Jeff Porretto

    Well, it looks like I’m a little late to this party, but I have to agree with everyone on the age disparity issue. I didn’t even have an internet capable computer until I was twenty. TWENTY. And I was on dial up…

    If you made it through school without Google or Wikipedia, your take on the world is juuust a little different.

    Luckily, computers and I go together like peas and carrots (thanks Forest), so despite my late start, I have a good bit of “Guru” in me. But I can see myself fitting into most of those other categories at one time or another.

    Another excellent post!

Leave a Comment

Copyright 2003 - 2019 Quality Logo Products, Inc., Registration No. TX7-524-201. All Rights Reserved.