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Marketing to Millennials: Strategies, examples, tactics and trends

Akshay VasanWe need to get this right, we totally do!

Are millennials by definition those just born between 1981-96, or a cohort of progressive, ambitious, selectively lazy and expressive souls?

India is a millennial country and if you look around, 70% of all corporate workforce today does fall in this sweet spot.

Just thought of penning down a few thoughts on how marketers can stay relevant to Gen Y. Most of these have been built from my experience of:
A. Being a millennial
B. Dealing with others in this tribe!

Marketing to Millennials: Strategies, examples, tactics and trends

“Whole Wheat Roti, Branded Kapda Aur Rented Makaan!”


Have a genuine purpose

Brands are no more just symbols for products and services; they now are symbols for a purpose or cause.

The concept of brands nurturing a cause by contributing a share of their proceeds has been around for a while, for example P&G (Shiksha initiative) and ITC Classmate notebooks (Education for underprivileged).

However, brands have bow taken causes to the centre of their brand campaigns. They’ve been woven into the fabric of the story thereby making it their purpose.

For example, Ariel #SharetheLoad campaign is a great example urging urban men to support household chores. Dabur Vatika’s #Braveandbeautiful is another good story.

Brands need to truly find a connect between their campaign and the purpose else it would end up as just another great piece of content lying in this virtual world.

Keep it Simple

We are all familiar with the KISS principle…more like the ‘Keep it simple stupid‘ one.

Apparently, Albert Einstein once said, if you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself and I can’t agree more.

Simple brands serve the need brilliantly. They focus on one simple thing ‘What do we as a brand want to do’

Like Uber gets you where you want to go, Google helps you find answers by organising the worlds information.

In the Indian context, I like (link )

Their latest campaign with Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt is reinforcing the message that ‘online booking is better’.

As per an article, consumers are willing to pay a premium for simplicity. (Source: Forbes study on how brands can reap the rewards of simplicity).

A few years back, Apollo Munich insurance launched their new positioning statement through their #LetsUncomplicate campaign and gave a much needed breather to the complex world of insurance providers.

Always on ‘Mobile’

There are apps that monitor your mobile usage and if you were to see the numbers, they’re alarming but also a reflection on how much of everything we do on our smartphones.

Falling data cost and device prices, 4G adoption and smartphone penetration has definitely made India a mobile first economy. Rural India isn’t far behind with more than 30% smartphone penetration.

Today, every consumer’s first interaction with a brand is on his phone. We often explore, consume, advocate and even evangelise brands basis our digital impression of them.

As marketers, we need to take this platform very seriously and not just for Gen Y but older generations like X and baby boomers.

A few things worth considering:

  • ‘Image’ination – less text, more visuals
  • 3 second rule – if you haven’t caught them in this much time, you’ve lost them
  • Need for speed – Bandwidth is limited so have lite versions of your site
  • Not socially awkward- All story telling happens on social media
  • Beyond ‘Appy’ness – Apps graveyard is growing so focus on mobile web


Customer ServiceObsessed

We don’t need no ‘flowery talks’
We don’t need no ‘fake sympathy’

Modern day Floyd would sound something like that!  

Millennials usually have less time, even lesser patience, are well informed and extremely active on social media. Don’t take them for granted, else your brand image can be dented.

I love Amazon, they are a genuinely customer-centric company and take customer satisfaction very seriously.

Brands need to be neck deep in taking customer satisfaction seriously else the big $$$ invested in building the brand can go down the drain.

Brands must have well defined SLA in addressing  customer complaints, releasing refunds and close the problem. Don’t keep it hanging in the air.

Being customer obsessed does have a domino effect, a happy customer is your most powerful ambassador.

Subscription vs Ownership

We are increasingly moving towards a shared economy. For example, Netflix allows us to enjoy great content for a nominal monthly fee. 

I love how Zoom cars in India has given so many of us a chance to enjoy a long drive without the hassle of owning a car. Wework has gathered steam in India and is allowing so many start ups and independent workers to set up an office in co-working spaces at a fraction of the cost.

We are definitely more experimental than the older generations and if brands can offer the right means of experience it, it’s a win-win situation for all.
In a nutshell, millennials are not riding the next wave of growth; they are the wave today.

With complex lifestyles, improved global exposure, higher disposable income, FOMO’s and JOMO’s of the world we have definitely taken a shift from man’s basic needs of food, clothing and shelter to Whole Wheat Roti, Branded Kapda Aur Rented Makaan.

And just when you think you have decoded “The Millennial Generation” there’s also Gen Z (born after 2000) that’s growing at an even faster pace.

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Akshay Vasan
About Akshay Vasan
Akshay is just another inquisitive soul in this Big Mad World of Marketers. In other things, he’s a premature hair greying victim, airplane lover and a travel aficionado trying to make it to his own list of ’40 under 40’ (more like visit 40 countries under Forty). All views are personal.

2 thoughts on “Marketing to Millennials: Strategies, examples, tactics and trends”

  1. Kudos Akshay
    As usual a well written article. Though I am a novice in marketing the article clearly articulates the realities of the Millennial mind set and behaviour.
    “Whole meal roti, Branded kapda aur Rented makaan” way to go mate I reckon for Gen X too
    Cheers keep writing

  2. Nice one, Akshay. Very well articulated, there is so much truth in it, yet it isn’t a serious boring read. Keep writing!


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