Milllenial marketing: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose?

Divining the way to Millenial hearts and minds and catering to their presumed unique needs has been the preoccupation of marketers across industries for the past several years. While it is a tautology to cite the growing demographic, as Millenials get older and acquire greater buying power they increasingly  are the consumers that marketers perforce need to address. 

For instance,  their market size is cited by the Philippines' Manila Standard in a report that says most of laptop maker Lenovo's sales are made to Millenials. In the US, a recent US Chamber of Commerce Foundation reports notes that there are 80 million strong and growing.

However, as the Millenial market develops some question whether they truly are fundamentally different from earlier generations.  Andrew Nusca, editor of the business technology news webssite,  ZD Net launches a few barbs in the direction of multi-national conglomerate and applicance maker, GE. In a recent piece he exhorts manufacturers to "stop building products for these ridiculous social constructs. Instead, we need to just build better products."

The foregoing notion is one that prevails across the service industry as well. Marriott recently launched an initiative named "Travel brilliantly" which purports to take aim at younger travelers via an advertising and branding campaign that addresses Millenials' who "demand style and design" and for whom "technology is central to their lifestyle" as they "seamlessly blend work and play". But in attempting to do so Marriott will have to veer considerably from their successful modus-operandi of providing accommodation that is more noteworthy for being consistently of a  high-quality than for being distinctive, much less edgy.

Clearly one area that does requires a distinctive approach as far as Millenials are concerned is the channel used to reach out to them.  Contrary to general impressions Millenials do read newspapers but nearly half do not pick up a physical newspaper instead choosing to get their information digitally. Fortune 500 companies have responded to that fact by doing 75% of their recruitment online with most giving the old Help Wanted ad in a broadsheet a miss.

Recognizing that Millenials' desire for a deal as not too dissimilar to those of others, Four Points by Sheraton just launched the Global Friends of Four Points program. The deal enables guests to get a "token that will be valid for one of four possible offerings at each
property, ranging from a "buy one get one free" Best Brew℠ to a free appetizer, a free
dessert, or free specialty coffee." The Milllenial market's predilections are addressed by Four Points with  "a Share the Moment Photo Contest on Facebookand Instagram. "Friends" of Four Points can check for a weekly photo topic and can enter their photos on Facebook or post them to Instagram using #FPMoment to be entered in a weekly drawing for a chance to win a seven night stay at any Four Points location around the world." While the channel is digital, the program's thrust demonstrates that Millenials' appetite for promos is expected to be no different to that of other segments.


Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.