Authenticity + Value = Millennial Marketing

By Paul Timmons, Guest Blogger

The millennials are currently the largest generation group consisting of approximately 80 million people. Which answers the question of why it is important to be able to effectively market to this generation of people. There are a couple of values that most millennials hold true; understanding these values will help to understand them better, as well as allowing you to market to them more effectively. 


These are two important values to keep in mind while marketing to millennials. It would be easy to turn away millennials by acting “fake.” Characteristics are important to pay attention to as well; if you understand the combination of values and characteristics, your marketing to millennials will be most effective.

Millennials are more technologically advanced than generations before them
Millennials want to go out and empower and inspire

With millennials being more technologically advanced, it is important to remember to use technology to your advantage. Millennials are spending on average 25 hours a week online, doing all sorts of things from looking through blogs, to interacting on social media pages. On top of that it is extremely easy to share these pages that they stumble upon whether it be on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. 

Millennials also value authenticity; nearly half of them value it over the content itself. They investigate the product they are buying and read reviews of user generated content to help influence their decisions on what to buy. It is almost as if millennials simply do not trust advertisements, but rather need the reassurance of their peers before making a purchase. Most of the time they believe advertisements to be a spin off of what the product is actually like. However, certain ads really do resonate with the millennial generation. These ads are a more engaging type of ad; millennials are more likely to be a loyal customer if the brands are actually engaging with them on social networks. 

Example of Effective Millennial Advertising

Dove has an ad campaign that is effective with millennials. The Dove Real Beauty Sketches short video does a wonderful job of not only engaging their customers, but being as authentic as possible. It does a great job of showing how humans are too hard on themselves, especially when it comes to beauty. However, the twist is that these women are much more beautiful than they describe themselves; the ad shows them empowered to feel prettier and better about themselves. While this is an ad for Dove it should also be noted that they never even mention soap within the video. It is one of the stronger ads; millennials care about authenticity and engagement. 

Empowerment also shines through in all sorts of ways. Coke’s line of ads that are about inspiring people is a great example. Coke uses short messages like, “Your Future: CEO.” and, “Be Ambitious. Not Thirsty.” Coke is an extremely popular product, it is messages and ads like these that have gotten them to where they are now. These messages by Coke, Dove, and other companies that understand millennials tap into core human truths that are then able to cause a shift in thinking. Due to the fact that the millennials are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation, companies are now going for a deeper meaning with their ads. Opposed to before the millennials where brands would promote the need for materialism, fame and sex.

The two most important things to keep in mind when marketing to millennials are the values and characteristics discussed above. Their views on authenticity and feeling empowered can outweigh many things, including content. 

About the Author

Paul Timmons is from Richmond, Virginia, and is currently a senior at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in communications with an emphasis on interpersonal and organizational communication, and a minor in philosophy, politics, and economics. After college he plans to take a break and spend time doing what he love (that’s skiing!) in Jackson Hole.