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BFS Capital Blog

The Millennial Influence on Small Business Marketing

May 28, 2015

Generation Y, also known as “Millennials,” are consumers born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 80 million Millennials between the ages of 18 and 36. The size and diversity of this group makes it more challenging for small businesses to market to Millennials.

Who Are the Millennials?

Millennials are considered to be the socially savvy, “ultra-connected,” expert multi-tasker generation. They are known to have multiple communication devices and can jump from one activity to the next quickly, almost as if they are doing them simultaneously. Because of this, their attention span is short and their demands for customization and personalization are high.

Connecting with Millennials

Gen Y-ers have personal junk filters that are hard to break through. Even if something catches their eye, their interest may not last very long. Connecting with Millennials requires a well-planned marketing strategy for your business that focuses on integration and the customer experience. This generation won’t wait around for the next big marketing campaign. They will find their own way to get what they want – information right now, on any device they choose, in their language of preference.

A global study by SDL showed that 58 percent of Millennials expect to engage with a business at any time via whichever channel they pick. This means that Gen Y consumers expect a consistent experience from brands both on and offline. It’s more likely that Millennials will come across content through their social media networks rather than traditional search and push marketing tactics, such as pay-per-click or email marketing. Millennial consumers will be more attracted to the news and information that are tailored to their preferences and needs. This content has to be customizable and adjustable to different and changing tastes; and essentially omni-channel in nature. Consistency and relevancy play a big role in creating engaging content for this consumer group.

Content for Generation Y

Millennials look for shareable content – images and videos that will generate a social “buzz” within their networks. According to a survey by Fractl and BuzzStream, the topic of entertainment takes the number one spot in Gen Y’s favorite content genres with technology coming in as a close second.

While these mid-teens and mid-thirty year olds seem to be glued to their mobile devices at all times, digital content only takes up about 5 – 10 hours of their weeks. Thirty-five percent of Millennials prefer the window between 8 PM and midnight for content consumption and the most popular form of content is online blogs – 300 words in length and relevant to their interests or needs. In the report, webinars, SlideShares and white papers were the least preferred by the participants.

Source: Generational Content Gap Infographic via

Building Trust with Millennials

Among other things, Gen Y-ers are known to be skeptical about almost everything. In order to gain the loyalty from a Millennial, trust has to be established. Businesses and brands need to be more transparent in their marketing efforts. Millennials know that companies are constantly collecting data on them: what they like, how they shop and make purchases, etc.

In the study by SDL, 46 percent of Gen Y-ers said they would be willing to provide more data to companies if it means avoiding irrelevant content and promotions. If business showed how the data collected on these consumers was used, or if the exchange was somehow mutual for both parties, brand loyalty among Millennials would increase in the long run.

Why are Millennials Important?

Generation Y is transforming the way small businesses market their products and services. These consumers are more engaged in technology and making it apparent that customer engagement and satisfaction should be some of the main focuses of marketing strategies. The successes of campaigns lies in their hands, at their fingertips, on the numerous smart devices they have access to on a daily basis. Finding ways to connect and engage with these young minds can unlock endless possibilities for businesses marketing to Millennial consumers.