Those born from 1996 through to about 1981 are Millennials, a generational group that grew up in the shadow of 9/11 and the 2008 recession and that settled into adulthood in the COVID-19 pandemic. Though we’ve long thought of Millennials as kids, this group is grown up and powerful now; in 2022, Forbes reported, “Millennials’ buying power currently eclipses that of other generations, and older members of this cohort are now poised to move into their prime earning and spending years… When it comes to overall spending power, Millennials haven’t even reached their peak potential yet.”

Social values are particularly important for Millennials, too. PR Daily reported, “For these young consumers, 83 percent want companies to align with their values and 76 percent want CEOs to speak out on issues they care about. That’s according to 5WPR’s 2020 Consumer Culture Report… About two-thirds (65 percent) of Millennials say they have boycotted a brand that took the opposing stance on an issue, and 62 percent favor products that show off their political and social beliefs.”

YPulse reported on its Cause Conundrum trend report, which “shows 79 percent of young people agree ‘Brands need to do more than just donate money to a cause,’ especially when that means breaking up with practices they find unethical.” Actual, actionable change is important to younger consumers.

Unlike Gen Z, Millennials seem to be a little less likely to be influenced by social media—PR Daily reports that 36 percent said they’d purchased an item recommended by an Instagram influencer. This is still a notable percentage, though smaller than their Gen Z counterparts.

Still, the ideas of authenticity and relatability are vital for Millennial consumers, too. Influencer partnerships remain valuable and help to build a level of trust and familiarity. Forbes writes, “Influencer marketing allows brands to connect with a variety of incredibly targeted audiences, on the social platforms where Millennials spend their time. It’s an effective way to leverage the power of genuine word-of-mouth perspectives and recommendations, from ‘everyday’ people to credible topic experts of all kinds.”

As they settle into adulthood and have families of their own, Millennials continue to shape our culture and our economy, reinforcing the importance of genuine, authentic and thoughtful connections between brands and consumers.

From Digital to Physical

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years about the metaverse, especially in relation to younger consumers ranging from Generation Alpha to Millennials. While this conversation is constantly changing, one idea seems to be taking center stage: the phygital experience, which straddles both digital and physical spaces.

These products and brand experiences take consumers offline and into the store—or from the store and onto the website. YPulse explains: “Brands like Forever21 and Amazon have already deployed some successful examples: Forever21’s Roblox beanie proved the power of giving Gen Z the opportunity to match their virtual world and avatar products with real ones. Amazon, on the other hand, opened their first IRL clothing store, which implemented technology from QR codes to see information about items to touchscreens in the dressing rooms to request and rate items.”

These experiences allow both brands and consumers to have the best of both worlds, and are less alienating to those who might feel less tech savvy, or more suspicious of entirely online worlds.

The metaverse and Web3 are also perfect for adapting toward loyalty programs, YPulse explains. Their data shows that about half of young people belong to loyalty programs, and that some brands have been successful in “gamifying” their loyalty programs through apps and virtual reality.