LONDON/NEW YORK: When seeking to reach Millennials, marketers need to be careful to distinguish between insights which are specific to this demographic and those which hold true for young adults in any age.

In a Warc Best Practice paper, Ola Mobolade, managing director at Firefly Millward Brown, observes that, as the first generational cohort to come of age in the digital era, "this group is unquestionably unique from the Generation X and Boomer segments which precede them, and Generation Z which follows".

Many of their behaviours are common to all young adults, such as career aspiration and a focus on starting a family – an age-specific insight; but Millennials, faced with a difficult job market and often high levels of debt, are more likely to get married and have children at a later age – a generation-specific insight.

"Strong consumer insights are the 'X factor' driving successful Millennial strategies and communications," Mobolade writes. And while "there is no 'magic recipe' for effectively marketing to Millennials, integrating a few tried and true 'ingredients' into a Millennial-targeted strategy is likely to boost the potential for success".

So, for example, Millennials are heavy users of digital content and social media, but marketers have to invest time and effort in identifying the right content, conversation, and platforms that will help them forge meaningful relationships with this age group.

That requires brands to be prepared to relinquish some of the control they have held for so many years and to let the consumer set the terms for ongoing conversation – how often, how deep, etc.

Mobolade also advises listening before talking. "Millennials want dialogue – a conversation – where brands listen to what they have to say rather than just pushing their messages without taking into account what consumers think, feel and want."

What they want is content that is relevant, that is interesting and that offers them something of value. And they want to feel they're communicating with a person, not a corporate entity, so it's "important for brands to find ways to humanise themselves".

Warc subscribers can read Mobolade's five "success principles" for effective marketing to Millennials – and accompanying case studies – here: How to market effectively to Millennials.

Data sourced from Warc