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How to Market to Millennials—and Employ Them Too

Gallery-How to Market to Millennials—and Employ Them Too


There has been a lot of discussion and speculation about the Millennial generation. It’s hard to know how to sell them, how to get their interest in store, and how to attract and retain them as employees.

Retail expert Dan Jablons of Management One shared his findings for working with the Millennial generation at the MAGIC Seminar Series. Learn how to communicate with this increasingly important purchasing group now.


As Dan advises, “Learning who they are and understanding how they think and how they operate is going to be critical to the success of your store.”

Some sources say millennials are people born between 1981-2004, others say the cutoff is between 1981-1994.

Today, millennials account for 45% of the workforce, and in 20 years it’s estimated that number will rise to 75%. Half of children count their parents as millennials and these 20 to 30 somethings have $1.3 trillion in purchasing power, with a lot of that money being spent in brick and mortar retail.


They care about social causes. And that affects where they decide to work and what they decide to buy. Environmental causes are particularly important to them, as well as how things are produced. Consider having a social cause at the core of your brand and make sure you clearly communicate your mission on your website and marketing materials.

They don’t like traditional advertising. In fact, they are extremely skeptical of it. 80% surveyed said they won’t look at traditional advertising and 95% of millennials feel friends are their most credible source of information. Overall, many have a deep mistrust of corporate America and prefer to consult their peers, do their own research, and read reviews. Be sure to encourage your customers to leave reviews and keep product feedback visible and up-to-date to encourage sales.

They like Instagram. Snapchat and Facebook are dead to them. Many feel Snapchat is catered to young millennials and Gen Z so focus your social efforts on Instagram.

They love their phones. Millennials are known to check their phone 45 times a day. Jablons recommends spending the majority of your time crafting a great mobile site, and optimizing your online strategy.

They watch online video. 4.3 million people every minute are watching a video on YouTube, and millennials spend 18 hours a day consuming media. While many fear the cost of video, know that your content doesn’t have to have a high production value. It can be as simple as a customer sharing info about a product. Just make sure you have something your audience can watch.

They move quickly. With the pace of digital life, it’s a buyer’s market so don’t waste their time with confusing messaging or a bad user experience. Millennials know they have options and they will gladly pursue them.


They are the most loyal purchasing group on the planet. But they have to be reached in the right way and talked to in the right way. 56% say they have strong brand loyalty in clothing shoes and accessories, 64% visit the store they are loyal to before they go anywhere else, 52% will choose their favorite stores over convenience and 42% above price.

As Jablons says, “If you can actually make them loyal to your store, if they believe you have a social conscience, if they believe they have a relationship with you, if they believe you’ve reached them where they want to be reached, 64% will visit your store before going somewhere else.”

They don’t like to be immediately approached. Merchandise your store up in a way that communicates to them on their terms. Jablons recommends Crate and Barrel’s approach—they have a lot of shelf talk and signage that conveys what a salesperson might say, while still giving customers space to explore on their own.

They know what they want before they shop in store. Because they do their own research, they are prepared to buy before they go in so be sure to keep up your online presence to encourage sales in-store.

They are less likely to buy something if they feel it’s a commodity. Millennials want to feel like something is special and unique which means retailers must be prepared for turnover merchandise quickly.

They have a high sense of integrity. They are the first group that is serious about protecting the planet and creating social change, and they won’t tolerate low integrity.  

Jablons thinks this is something to be admired and respected. “If you look at it from a different point of view, which is, I admire and respect their integrity, then selling to them comes naturally,” he says.


They’re not incentivized by cash. 65% would rather make less money at a job if they work for a company that supports social issues they care about.

They want good work/life balance. Millennials want to work hard but they also want their time to be respected.

They want an employer with a social conscience. Let them see diversity is important to you, that you care about sustainability, and running a business with integrity. This will attract millennial employees and increase their loyalty to you.

They want coaches not bosses. The average tenure of a millennial is 2 years. They’re not looking to stay at a company forever, especially if they aren’t getting what they want. But they are interested in career development so mentor them, teach them new skills, and encourage their professional goals. This will increase their value in the company as well as their chances of staying.

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