Millennials – there are a lot of them, and their influence on how companies sell their products and services is substantial.  So, if your business doesn’t have a research-based strategy in this regard, you could be missing out on some important opportunities to expand or further saturate a key market segment, whose buying power is increasing.
So what do you need to know in order to be successful in attracting and engaging Millennials?

  • First, you need to understand what is (and isn’t) important to them.
  • Secondly, you must understand how they like to receive information from you.
  • Finally, your outreach messages must be captured within a context that aligns, not only with their preferences, but also with their overall value system.

So, in terms of these three defining criteria for success, they are not so different from any target market you may want to approach and positively influence.  These are the starting points for any good messaging and marketing strategy.
An interesting fact is that Knoxville is in the top 15 cities in Tennessee where Millennials want to live.  Their reasons for this are:

  • Their attraction to a top higher education institution – UT Knoxville
  • A perceived abundance of post-graduate employment opportunities
  • The overall appeal of our lifestyle here, from outdoor recreation to an affordable cost of living

Knoxville possesses the “trifecta” of education, jobs and lifestyle.
Here are some specifics about Millennials that particular types of businesses need to know:

  1. Banks and financial institutions
  • Millennials are outpacing all other generational groups in terms of retirement savings, with 70% of them already starting to save for retirement by age 22!
  • An estimated 43% of them have received tax refunds for the past two years, with over half of those using most of their refund money to repay debt (they are fairly debt-aversed as a group).
  • They have an interest in not only paying off debt, but also in improving their credit scores and in preparing for long-term financial needs, such as purchasing a home.
  1. Real estate companies
  • The “American Dream” of home ownership is alive and well, with 65% of Millennials owning or wanting to own a home. In fact, it is anticipated that Millennials will form 20 million new households by 2025.
  • Millennials are waiting longer to marry, with the median age being 30 (compared to 23-25 years old for previous generations).
  • 88% of them use the internet as their primary way of searching for homes, specifically relying on real estate apps such as Zillow.
  • They prefer to communicate with their real estate agent via text (this is a strong preference over phone calls or e-mail).
  1. Retail

Millennials are regularly becoming “category killers” for products that no longer serve their specific needs or have been replaced by higher-value or easier-to-use products.  Some examples of products that Millennials no longer relate to or want to buy include:

  • Bar soap
  • Cereal
  • Corked wine
  • Napkins
  • Diamonds

So, it is important to do some trend research in order to track sales of your products within this demographic segment and to see what is and isn’t resonating with Millennials these days.
We’ll plan to explore additional industries which are being impacted by this important segment of our population in next month’s column.  Stay tuned!
Cathy Ackermann, founder and president of Ackermann Marketing and PR, may be reached at

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