A Copywriter’s Guide to Engaging Millennials

Businesses are trying to add millennials to their consumer base, but this generation has unique expectations. Here's how to cross the divide and get millennials interested.

A young woman holding an iPhone in front of her face
Source: janeb13 https://pixabay.com/en/users/janeb13-725943/

It’s no secret that millennials have become a highly coveted consumer base for many businesses. The problem is, millennials hate being sold to. Ads are “literally the worst”—especially when one interrupts a YouTube video. How, then, should companies go about attracting loyal millennial customers?

For starters, millennial-friendly copy should contain at least one of these characteristics:

1. Connection

Technology is no longer just a societal boon—it’s far and away an everyday individual necessity. A millennial without a smartphone is a rare sight: according to a Pew survey, 86% of 18- to 29-year-olds own smartphones.

This means crafting a great mobile experience, staying in-the-know on social media, and maintaining a responsive online presence are essential for catering to younger generations.

2. Authenticity

Appearing sincere in business is sometimes tricky, but failing to do so can lose you your younger customer base. If your copy feels sales-y or is overly self-promotional, know that a millennial is scoffing and/or rolling their eyes as they exit out of the offending tab.

Instead, the key is to have a content marketing strategy that outputs unique, value-based material—keeping it real, so to speak.

3. Awareness

Staying apolitical usually seems like the safer bet. On the other hand, taking a stance, particularly where social and environmental issues are concerned, can win you fans among the liberal-leaning under-30 crowd.

A dictionary might be the last thing you’d expect to be a hit on Twitter, but Merriam-Webster has gone viral by cultivating a brilliantly dry voice and positioning itself as an LGBTQ ally.

As for brands that get it right? Check out the small handful we’ve identified below:

Trader Joe’s

Famous for having created a quirky foodie culture around their brand, Trader Joe’s grocery stores are very popular among millennials.

They’ve created massive appeal with some delightful deviations from normal product names—for example, the timely O Tannenbaum Crispy Potato Snacks. Read here for a more thorough breakdown of why Trader Joe’s copy rocks.

Spotify

Spotify has leverage the internet’s ubiquity and glut of smartphones to create a streaming experience that’s wired right into the fabric of modern life. iPods became a standard for music portability, but Spotify took it one step further: it’s a millennial-perfect standard for music access.

Moreover, Spotify’s spot-on “Thanks 2016, it’s been weird” campaign morphs specific and exclusive data into highly amusing snippets, like, “Dear person who made a playlist called: ‘One Night Stand With Jeb Bush Like He’s a Bond Girl in a European Casino,’ We have so many questions.” Because yes, now we do too!

Airbnb

Characteristically thrifty due to coming of age in economically turbulent times, millennials have largely rejected hotels when traveling, preferring to stay at hostels or to couchsurf—and Airbnb is a perfect resource-sharing response to this trend.

When the company became mired in a discrimination controversy, it spoke up on behalf of those affected and enacted a nondiscrimination policy. The jury is still out on whether it will be sufficient or effective, but it’s been recognized as a good first step.

There are many more brands that have had success among millennials—similar to Trader Joe’s and Spotify, Chipotle and Netflix come to mind as twenty-something staples.

Recognizing that a global recession drastically changed the way millennials handle their finances compared with their parents is one crucial point to keep in mind, along with the increasingly socially inclusive values that many millennials hold.

When in doubt, ask us to draw from the real-life millennials on our staff for inspiration.

Gabriella Buentello

Gabriella Buentello

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