Millennials in the Spotlight: The Market Segment Everyone’s Clamoring to Crack

From campaign headquarters to digital marketing agencies, strategists everywhere are thinking about how to entice America’s most talked-about and statistically impactful group: millennials.

Bing’s former search industry spokesperson Duane Forrester and Google Web Trends Analyst Gary Illyes are no exception – millennials are on their minds, too, and both of the search leaders’ recent keynote sessions at Pubcon centered on how search engines are moving to serve the rising millennial class.

There are the stats and facts you may have heard and industry watchers trade back and forth like the older millennials once traded Pogs:

  • Millennials (now aged 20-34) are nothing if not tech-savvy. They are described as everything from needy and egocentric to highly educated and highly connected.
  • They value experiences over products and services.
  • They’re passionate about causes and 40 percent of them believe they are capable of global impact.
  • Their attention spans are microscopic, and they’re shrinking by the second — literally. In 2000, the average attention span was ten seconds. In 2014 it was eight seconds. It has now whittled down to 2.8 seconds.

In “Millennial Expectations and Search Behavior Trends,” Illyes talks about how digital marketers can tap into that 2.8 attention span. He also shares insights into how Google is adapting its own features to better serve millennial users.


As to the millennials’ gravitation toward experiences, Forrester has a piece of advice: provide them. Turn your products into experiences. Just this week, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren shared the same advice. It’s not about changing your product, but changing the way you market it. Shopping in a store can be turned into an experience. That’s why Macy’s has invested $400 million dollars into a complete renovation of the first floor Herald’s Square Macy’s in New York, which now features things like virtual mannequins.

In the same way that physical shopping can become an experience, so can shopping and interacting with businesses online. In his keynote, “The Future of Search,” Forrester dives into how retailers can use technology and the Internet to more strongly appeal to millennials. He speaks about the Starbucks app specifically, noting how its interactive functionality is the kind of the thing that attracts young adults. Eleven percent of in-store transactions at U.S. Starbucks occur with a mobile device. According to Forrester, millennials love having the ability to:

  • Pay and tip via mobile (or wearable)
  • Shake to pay
  • Earn rewards and status
  • Locate stores
  • Purchase eGift cards


For insight you can apply immediately, consider this: how do you approach graphics and web design when thinking about millennials? In “Designing Ad Images for Non-Designers,” Dustin Stout had straightforward advice: implement bright colors and use pictures of millennials (people gravitate towards people that look like themselves).

Another thought: don’t ever call millennials “millennials.” There’s no quicker way to alienate your audience than by making it obvious you’re marketing to them. Take a cue from the style guide of BuzzFeed, a social media mecca for the target market in question:

Generally avoid using this term when possible; use “twenty-somethings,” “twenty- and thirty-somethings,” or “young adults,” depending on what’s most appropriate/accurate.

How are you thinking about and marketing to millennials? Share your strategies in the comments!

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

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One Reply to “Millennials in the Spotlight: The Market Segment Everyone’s Clamoring to Crack”

Definitely a tough demographic


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