In Marketing

Who are the Millennials? There’s confusion around the exact age range, but no argument that this population segment is massive—it surpasses the Boomer generation, and is presumed by most to be well over 75 million in number. They are currently the 18 to 30-something year olds that every marketer seeks to appeal to, not only for an “immediate return,” but also in recognition that they will literally drive the economy in years to come.


Within a decade, they are expected to represent one-third of adult Americans and by 2025 three-quarters of the U.S. workforce. They are the most racially diverse generation ever and they have typically embraced more liberal stances on social issues than even their often-Boomer parents. They have grown up to expect options and “limitless possibilities.” Despite facing difficult economic times, they remain optimistic. In recent Pew research, 85% said they currently have or expect to eventually have enough money to lead the lives they want.

Millennials Matter to the Travel Industry

Assuming you are reading this as a travel industry professional, should YOU care about this segment? How does travel relate to the lives they want? They may not be the largest segment of travelers at this time, but should you look to the future? Should you engage them now?

You probably already know that there have been numerous industry studies in recent years that indicate Millennials already have a very high propensity to travel. One study, “Meet the Millennials*, ” suggests that 75% want to visit all 50 states and most want to travel abroad as much as possible. Others indicate that half vacation with friends—influence one and many will follow. Being the most educated, they want to learn; they want “immersive experiences” but they also want to have fun. According to an Expedia-sponsored study, those under 30 take over eight trips a year when combining business and leisure. In fact, about 60% are extending business trips for personal pleasure. With that number of experiences to compare, they may very well become the most critical generation—with social media, they will surely be the most vocal and influential. No matter the source, no matter the data, it’s easy to conclude that Millennials will become the world’s most traveled generation. So yes, they matter a lot.

Be Relevant, Informative and Succinct

Much has been written about marketing to Millennials, most of which is grounded in recognizing that they only know the immediacy and myriad of communication options that constitute our digital age. Are they a homogeneous entity? Are they that different? Are they unique? Where does a marketer start? Cull the articles and you read much of what follows.

  • Don’t assume if your marketing entertains them, they will be loyal, or even be a customer. They may “share” your video but never engage in your product or service. Give them relevancy.
  • Recognize that they value experiences and look for ways to share those experiences with others. How will you expand their horizons? What will you add to their lives? Connect with them. Excite them.
  • Give them information…don’t just try to sell them. They are not only one of the most informed generations—they literally have the world at their fingertips. They can research you and also your competitors 24/7.
  • But get to the point. Fast. They are bombarded by messages of all sorts and information of all types, and if you can be visual, be visual.
  • Word-of-mouth is your most powerful ally in reaching this generation, even if the form it takes is their written posts. WOM can also destroy you if your service and quality do not meet their expectations.
  • Gain their loyalty, and more than any other generation, they will help you market.

A Role for Traditional Media?

Exactly where should you market? I’m sure you know you need a website. You most likely assume you need to facilitate a dialogue on social media outlets. Some digital ads strategically placed? SEM? Of course. Yes, you do need all these. But are they enough?

Is there a role for traditional media? Well, the abundance of articles, particularly those written by those with vested business interests in digital media, would have you believe that Millennials “hate” traditional media, or at least do not consume it. Comparative indices to other age segments might suggest this, but the facts do not back this up.

While Millennials spend more time with digital than traditional media, let’s look at all the research findings:

TV still rules, accounting for the single largest share of Millennials’ total weekly media time. For Millennials, TV captures about 25 hours of their 67 weekly hours of media time, or about 37% share. By comparison, TV accounts for 42% share of total weekly media time among all adults. TV is also the device with the largest reach for each generation, with 97% of all adults watching at least some TV on a weekly basis. **

There is significant evidence that they actually consume media in much the same way as the general population. Are the general population’s habits evolving? Of course they are. The recent Experian report, based on the industry’s media consumption bible—the Fall 2013 Simmons® National Consumer Study (NCS)—and the Fall 2013 Simmons Connect Study not only supports this concept, as do other unbiased media studies, it also frames our current media-consumption landscape across generations.


As you delve into all the raw data that’s out there, you’ll encounter other “traditional media” consumption facts:
The Infinite Dial 2013: Navigating Digital Platforms found that 78% who seek the latest music trends use AM/FM radio as their top choice.

Millennials also read magazines and newspapers, perhaps less so on average, but maybe your target is among the over 50% who do?

Integrated Digital and Traditional Marketing Regardless of Target

Perhaps marketing to Millennials is not so different than marketing to most who live in a culture that has embraced technology and its explosion of information and marketing delivery methods. Maybe they are less a unique segment and more a sign of our times.

If you want to break through the clutter and introduce your brand or a new message, there’s a role for traditional, intrusive media, even when targeting Millennials. Simultaneously, as data and common sense tell us, even Boomers are but one moment from their mobile phones or their PCs and all that the Internet provides. Upon scrutiny, many, if not most, of the media consumption characteristics attributed to Millennials simply represent those of all of us, and particularly the affluent traveler, whether our birthdates label us Boomer, Generation X , Silent Generation or Millennial.

The lesson: Let an integrated blend of traditional and digital media be your marketing approach, regardless of your target. Let the plan’s design be driven by the particular marketing challenge you are facing. Be guided by the inherent and sometimes unique strengths of each medium in communicating and addressing your objectives and challenges. Target, but do it smartly. Don’t make assumptions. There’s something to be said about the traditional as well as the digital. Perhaps delivering the traditional via the digital is your solution. Budgets will always drive in the end. Remember the data that supports the digital often relates to brands that were initially built with the traditional or are those that are benefiting from a fully integrated approach.

Want to learn more about targeting this key demographic? Dana can help! Reach out to Lynn Kaniper at or 609.466.9187 ext. 117 to continue the conversation.

*“Meet the Millennials,” commissioned in association with Delaware North Companies Parks and Resorts and conducted by Jerry Henry & Associates
**Millennials Spend More Time With Digital Than Traditional Media, But…July 1, 2014 – by MarketingCharts staff; referencing Expedia Report.
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