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Six Things to Know When Targeting Young Millennials

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Experience-hungry 18- to 25-year-olds seek out brands with personality

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Olivia Hardy is lending her talents to the London-based FreemanXP EMEA team over the summer, working alongside Niru Desai, vice President of strategy, as an associate strategist across a range of exciting pitches and projects.

We sat down with Liv, who is a uni student and millennial, to gain some insight around what it is that this generation, particularly those aged between 18 and 25, look for in a brand.

Q: How would you describe this group when it comes to brand marketing efforts?

I’d say we are a problematic group to target. Having only recently come of age, most of us are still taking our first few baby steps out into the world of independent living. What I like to call ‘real adulting’ is not a skill most of us have mastered yet.

This makes us a potentially difficult group for marketers to connect with because, in many ways, we are independent. We don’t live with our parents anymore and some of us have finished our studies, but on the other hand we don’t have much money, so we think long and hard about what to spend our hard-earned cash on.

Q: So, do you think brands need to think about how they build loyalty with your generation better?

In some ways, yes. I know people who have been to the same festival three years in a row, and this is partly because they know what to expect from it. Because we don’t have a lot of money (or free time!) we are less willing to risk our money on a festival we haven’t been to before, which happens to make us more loyal.

Attending a new event would most likely only happen if it had been endorsed by our close friends first, or a blogger or vlogger that we trust. Their recommendations carry a lot more weight with us than any person who has been paid to market the event who we will probably never have heard of.

Q. What should brands avoid when targeting millennials?

Most of us feel like the advertisements we come across have been poorly targeted and are of little relevance. Brands need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and become what they are interested in instead.

Consider things like Instagram ads — these are marketed like normal posts so they don’t feel intrusive, and vloggers and bloggers at events are much more relatable than people who we know have been paid to say or do something.

Q. Are there certain types of events brands should be targeting to gain validation from this generation?

Individuality and personal choice are extremely important to us, and we expect brands to own up to their own identities.

Brands that choose to activate at festivals such as Secret Garden Party, Wilderness Festival, or Electric Picnic tend to gain much more respect with us than those that choose to play it safe and target more mainstream events.

Q: Are events even important to you?

Yes. We prefer brands that can show us how they will make us feel rather than what they will give us, and value live experiences over material possessions.

As a generation we are very present-minded. We want to make the most of now and do what we can to be happy now, as we know that life can be all to serious and will likely only get more so as we grow older.

Q. Are there any particular qualities that millennials look for in a brand?

We are often very in tune with the issues gripping the world, and brands that have a movement behind them really resonate with us.

Many brands are already doing this, such as Toms, which donates a pair of shoes to a person in need every time a pair of its shoes are sold, and London drinks brand Innocent hosts a phone and Wi-Fi free (everything is solar or man-powered) festival known as Innocent Un-plugged in a forest every year.

To summarise, I’d say my generation is more tech savvy and confident than those who came before us. We know what brands work for us and which brand personalities suit our own, but that doesn’t mean we’re not open to others joining the fold. The most important thing? Brands need to position themselves as unique and different when they market to us.

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