Brand Strategy

Marketing to Millennials Doesn’t Have to be a #Struggle

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LSB believes that our interns are hired to do real work, not make coffee and pick up dry cleaning. Maybe that’s why we attract so many talented applicants and are able to hire the best of the bunch. Because LSB’s interns get real-world experience, they’re able to contribute valuable insights to our work. And who better to address marketing to millennials than one of our own?


An image probably pops into your head when you hear this word, the classification for the generation of people born sometime between the early 1980s to mid 1990s.

It’s swiftly become a buzzword that has neared the point of oversaturation in our society.

As a member of the aforementioned group myself, I’m a bit sensitive to how—and how often—we talk about millennials, especially when it comes to the advertising world.

We get it! Millennials are important!

By 2018, millennials are expected to surpass the annual income of baby boomers ($3.4 trillion to $2.8 trillion, respectively) and to spend close to $200 billion annually by 2017. But can’t we talk about them in a way that doesn’t reduce them down to just coffee-drinking, couch-surfing, social-media-consuming commodities?

We’ve certainly seen our fair share of bad millennial marketing attempts; companies and brands trying a biiiiit too hard to appear #relatable. Hillary Clinton’s campaign made waves on Twitter a while back after releasing a Buzzfeed-esque article entitled, “8 Ways Hillary Clinton is Just Like Your Abuela,” which many saw as a desperate attempt to garner support from both the Latino community and young voters.

Or, you may have seen a recent uptick in the use of emojis in advertising, be it in gum promotion or car sales. Because really, what doesn’t say “young person” like listicles and yellow smiley faces?

These brands’ hearts are in the right places, but as a resident young person, I don’t see these attempts as relatable. More like pandering. It’s as if these companies realize the millennial population is an important one, but don’t quite know how to reach them.

So how can a company pull off marketing to millennials?

There are a couple tools—being open to change, acknowledging your customers and going beyond your company’s product—that I think can be truly powerful in selling your brand.

Here are three companies I think have successfully reached us millennials… without making a fool of themselves in the process.

CoverGirl’s fresh new face

marketing to millennials, CoverGirl


CoverGirl recently announced that the newest addition to their starlet-powered team of spokeswomen is 17-year-old high school senior (and boy) James Charles. This is such a smart move for CoverGirl: the company realizes that the world we live in is changing and things aren’t as black and white as they used to be.

Ideas of expression are becoming more fluid, a notion that’s inherent to the millennial generation. CoverGirl isn’t fighting this, they’re embracing it. They’ve made a point to say with this latest move that makeup and beauty isn’t just reserved for women anymore, but for all. By appointing a guy to the spokesperson position, CoverGirl is showing their true dedication to their changing audience base, something more powerful than just tweeting out words of support or posting an inclusive pic to their Instagram account.

Hipsters and PBR and art, oh my!

Pabst Blue Ribbon has solidified itself as a go-to brand for millennial hipsters, thanks to its anti-establishment vibe. It’s almost as if because they aren’t in your face with commercials or ad inserts, as many other beer brands tend to be, they have become more desirable and approachable to the millennial population; i.e. millennials aren’t being told to buy the product, they’re given the choice.

This level of respect for the consumer can go along way. PBR has even gone as far as creating a crowd-sourced art program, asking for talented customers to send in their work (featuring a PBR logo, of course) to be featured on an online gallery. This is yet another chance for PBR to express their loyalty to their consumers, rewarding them for their talents and giving them an experience to take part in.

Cat’s got your…Uber?

marketing to millennials


Uber has soared into popularity, most notably in urban areas, with its more convenient take on taxi services. The company has become a staple for millennials with their easy-to-use phone app and has even managed to establish itself as a verb among users (ex: “I’ll just uber there!”).

One thing that Uber has done really well, however, has nothing to do with car services. You may have heard of their promotion, “UberKittens,” that brought cuddly kittens to people in select cities on demand. More than just a fun excuse to snuggle with a kitty, Uber promoted adoption of these kittens, who came from neighboring animal shelters.

As a millennial consumer, something like this is great to see. Obviously fluffy, cute animals are always fun and can lighten any mood—there’s a reason cat videos have overrun the internet. But more importantly, with this initiative I can view Uber as more than just another corporation, but rather a business that cares about the community it lives in, something bigger than themselves. I know that I’m supporting a company that gives back, and feel better paying for a ride home knowing my money is going toward something more. Many users took to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to promote the kitties… and in turn, Uber.

So, if your audience is truly that millennial crowd we can’t seem to get enough of, take note.

These aren’t the only brands doin’ millennial right, but there’s certainly a lot to learn from how they are marketing to millennials. Be flexible to change, celebrate customer loyalty, and show that you care about more than just your brand.

But please, whatever you do, don’t forgo all words in your ad spots for emoticons. 👎🏽 👎🏽


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