Brand Marketers Targeting Millennials Should Try Mom And Dad

Millennials are sometimes characterized as a lazy, indifferent generation with a natural sense of entitlement. In my opinion, this could not be any further from the truth. However, one undeniable fact is that a large portion of Millennials is still supported by their parents in some way. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center study determined that about 21.6 million Millennials still live at home. That’s over one-third of Generation Y, and it’s a stat that marketers should pay attention to when trying to reach this elusive and sporadic bunch. If brands want to reach Millennials, the best way to do it may be to appeal to their parents, since many parents still hold an influence over their children through both tradition and finance. 

The Mercedes-Benz Tradition

Mercedes-Benz has long been a household name in the automotive industry – and the luxury brand, which has existed for decades, still resonates with Millennials. This is a difficult feat, especially since Millennials can be turned off by items they can’t afford. However, a recent study by found that Generation Y still puts Mercedes in their Top 5 of brands that fit them best. This is due in part to the perception that Mercedes strives to innovate. Mercedes further helped its cause in the eyes of Millennials by also releasing the Mercedes CLA this past year. The starting price tag comes in just under $30,000, which is affordable for many on the older end of Generation Y. 



Taking a look at what drives (pun intended) Millennials’ Boomer parents, another recent survey found that Mercedes-Benz leads all other luxury cars in Boomer popularity; selling 56% of its vehicles to Baby Boomers. This is an example of a brand inserting itself into the psyche of Millennials by appealing to their parents. Plus, if the kids need a little bit of help on the down payment, it would be much easier to convince mom and dad to help. 

Whole Foods: Who Needs It, Who Wants It

The Whole Foods success formula looks a little bit like this: Boomers need to eat healthy, Millennials want to eat healthy. While a bit simple, it isn’t far from the truth. “Whole Foods is clearly converting more Boomers into customers because they're aging and looking to stay young, healthy and vital and extend their longevity, so that's a natural push for them,” said John Mackey, co-founder and co-CEO of the chain. 

Despite its high price-points, Whole Foods remains a popular brand among Millennials thanks to the generation’s tendency to explore natural and organic food options. In this symbiotic branding relationship, the parent may be more likely to buy the brand because both the Boomer and Millennial find value in it. 

The NFL is Everywhere

If ever there was something to bring fathers and sons together, it is football. And that’s not to say women don’t watch it either. As a matter of fact, Sunday Night Football was the number four ranked primetime show among women ages 18-49 in 2012. Clearly, the NFL is doing a few things right; one of them is the league’s willingness to integrate media, therefore relaying their message, but using a multichannel approach to do it. The ways to watch football are seemingly infinite today. While the game can be enjoyed by more traditional means, such as television, games are also viewable on mobile devices, through live streaming on the Internet, and through provider packages such as DirectTV’s NFL Sunday Ticket. 

Fantasy football also spans generations. About 27.1 million Americans play fantasy sports. The average fantasy sports user age is 37, while the median household income is about $94,000, according to an August 2013 report by Fantasy4All. Once again, a clear indication that the brand stretches across demographics, therefore increasing their chance of influencing one another. 

Get to Know the Parents

Parents very often serve as a guide in our lives and decisions. The ways of enjoying something may differ, but this doesn’t mean that marketers shouldn’t strongly consider who is influencing who. Sometimes taking the long way to a destination is more effective than taking the direct one.

1 comment about "Brand Marketers Targeting Millennials Should Try Mom And Dad".
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  1. mary rainer from OMD, October 4, 2013 at 11:31 a.m.

    Excellent point. Parents of Gen-Ys are much closer to their children than prior generations of parents, so the dynamic of influence is apt to continue past when they all do leave home.

    I believe the perception of Gen-Ys as lazy is often misfounded. These are times when record numbers of college graduates are graduating without having found jobs due solely to the economy. Many Gen-Y's are still home not because they are lazy, but because their parents are partnering with them on creating future professional lives for them that can sustain them during the massive global change they will see in their lifetimes. Perhaps they are being financially and strategically very savvy. Perhaps many of those parents are also thrilled to have them at home. The times they are a changin'

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