Millennials and the Difficulty of Marketing

Why marketing requires focus, discipline, and effort to be successful.

What’s up with Millennials and why aren’t they buying like their Boomer parents?

Restaurant store traffic is level at best if not down in 2014. According to TDn2K, through its Black Box Intelligence group that provides detailed sales data for the industry, 2014 will see a 1.9 percent industry-wide sales decline. This continues several years of decline even after the most recent recession has been declared to be dead. The Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN) notes that typically mini-booms in sales come after the end of a recession, but not this time.

Restaurants are an example of an industry struggling to figure out why sales are flat or down despite better times. And, target markets seem to be at the root of the issue with Millennials eating out less than their Baby Boomer parents.

According to the NRN-Miller Pulse Report, winners include Chipotle which garnered a surprising increase in numbers of guests totaling 12.3 percent in the second quarter of 2014, despite significant increases in price. And, what is driving this uptick in guests is not a mobile app, but the concept of “value”. NRN notes that consumers consider value as a “high-quality and differentiated menu”, loyalty rewards, and faster service. This drives traffic while reducing the need to cut prices to the bone. Millennials are seeking value.

Big bricks-and-mortar retail players are listening and driving new concepts to meet this demand of value by Millennials. According to Retail Today, Target is testing curbside pickup for mobile orders. Kohl’s is launching a rewards loyalty program called Yes2You.

Yes, Millennials rock the Smartphone! A recent study by Experian Marketing Services is clear that Millennials are digitally driven and interacting with digital media at the rate of almost 10 hours a day, much of it driven through a Smartphone. And, 83 percent of Millennials have even slept with their phone according to Pew Research.

But, the Smartphone is simply a tool used by this group to seek and find value. When it comes to marketing, ultimately, the consumer matters most. The target markets tell us what it is they really want. And, they vote with their wallets and feet…or fingers in some cases. The tools are simply the devices through which the markets seek valuable solutions for their needs, wants and desires.

No, Millennials are no cheaper, lazier, or distracted than any other group. They seek value, value that they define, to help improve their lives. Knowing them as best we can separates our marketing efforts from the others in our business verticals. And, when we take the time and make the effort to really know what they want, they vote for us!

Dr. Paul Carringer is an associate professor of marketing at Columbus State Community College, adjunct instructor of marketing at Franklin University, and the president of Caring Marketing Solutions, a full service PR, advertising, and production company established 22 years ago and located in Grandview, Ohio. You can contact Paul at

No Comments

Leave a reply