Marketing to the Millennials: The Shifting Consumer Habits of Youth

by / ⠀Startup Advice / June 16, 2022

The Millennials; also known as Generation Y, or put simply, today’s young people.

Not long ago, they were the most coveted demographic for marketers. And for good reason: loaded with disposable income, eager to buy the hottest trends, and impressionable enough to become lifelong loyal customers, young people were a perfect target for smart marketers.

But times are changing. The decline of the economy, along with the rise of new technologies and platforms, has left many marketers struggling to reach these once-flush consumers.

How are young people consuming differently in the new economy? And how can a marketer take advantage of these transformative trends? Let’s explore the bad news, good news, and share some practice advice on how to capitalize on the emergence of the Millennials.

The Bad News

First, the bad: the Great Recession has hit young people the hardest. The unemployment rate for young adults is a gruesome 12%, compared to the overall rate of about 8%. Almost a quarter of young adults aged 18-34 don’t make enough to cover basic needs like rent and food.

Naturally, this means that they’re spending less. 89% of young people (18-29) report that the bad economy is impacting their day-to-day lives, with 51% reducing their entertainment budget and 34% spending less on gifts and groceries.

With conditions like these, it’s easy to see why marketers are having less success appealing to Millennials.

The Good News

But it’s not all doom and gloom. 50% of Millennials expect their finances to improve next year. Young adults may be tightening their belts, but they still eat out at restaurants more than any other age group (44% visit an upscale restaurant at least once a month, compared to 33% of Gen Xers and 24% of Boomers).

Perhaps the most important finding for marketers is that Millennials are highly responsive to coupons, promotions, and sales. “[This] age group…18- to 34-year-olds, is only drawn in by sales and promotions,” says financial analyst Eric Beder.

Recent findings back up Beder’s claim: “Of all generations, Millennials are most influenced by coupons and discounts when choosing a restaurant,” relays the Generational Consumer Trend Report. Symphony IRI’s report on Millennial Shoppers finds that 68% of Millennials indicate that coupons influence their brand decisions, compared to 53% of the general population.

How to Take Advantage

Equipped with this information, a savvy marketer can easily capitalize on young people’s shifting consumer habits.

One approach particularly well-suited for marketing to Millennials is SMS marketing, also known as text message marketing. Texting is the most common way that young people communicate in writing, considerably more than email or even Facebook. A full 97% of young people with cell phones text regularly.

Text message marketing is a permission-based practice where consumers opt-in to receive promotion texts, usually by texting a keyword to a shortcode (e.g. “Text ‘SIMPLE’ to 555888). Businesses then send mobile coupons, sales alerts, or event reminders, among other promotions, directly to the customer via text message.

Text marketing is particularly effective with Millennials, due to their widespread adoption of texting and preference for coupons and sales.

Another more common marketing strategy for Millennials is social media marketing; with 92% of young adults on social networks, sites like Facebook and Twitter give marketers unprecedented access to millennial. Advertising sales, discounts, and other promotions on your brand’s social page can be an effective way to influence the youth market.

Gene Sigalov is a SimpleTexting co-founder and leader in the mobile marketing industry. Follow SimpleTexting on Twitter at @SimpleTexting, like them on Facebook, and read the latest in mobile marketing news on their blog.

Related Post: 8 Promotional Items that Appeal to Millennials

About The Author

Matt Wilson

Matt Wilson is Co-Founder of Under30Experiences, a travel company for young people ages 21-35. He is the original Co-founder of Under30CEO (Acquired 2016). Matt is the Host of the Live Different Podcast and has 50+ Five Star iTunes Ratings on Health, Fitness, Business and Travel. He brings a unique, uncensored approach to his interviews and writing. His work is published on, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, Huffington Post, Reuters, and many others. Matt hosts yoga and fitness retreats in his free time and buys all his food from an organic farm in the jungle of Costa Rica where he lives. He is a shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.