A lot of attention and effort has been put toward marketing to millennials in recent years, and for good reason. This incredibly large and growing audience of 18-34 year-olds has enormous spending influence and is changing the way we as marketers target them. A lot of generalizations are made about them too – they’re entitled, rebellious and too engrossed in life online to be tuned into the rest of the world. It’s very easy to paint a picture of the typical millennial…20-something, absorbed in their cell phone, sending Snapchats and complaining all day long. Pretty easy to envision, right? This image, however, is far too narrow. A natural thing is happening as these 18-34 year-olds age: they’re starting families of their own. The “millennial” is now becoming “Mom” (or “Dad,” of course). I should know – as a millennial myself, I’m joining this group in a matter of a couple weeks…or days.
Millennial parents’ influence is quickly becoming apparent. There are currently 10.8 million households of millennials with children, and with this group accounting for over 80 percent of the 4 million annual U.S. births, new millennial parents are projected to grow exponentially. The group is growing up and experiencing significant life changes through parenthood that influence their outlook, habits and spending patterns. While similarities abound, there are key ways millennial moms are vastly different compared to fellow millennials without kids, and many ways they are different from the generations of parents before them. Because of this, we must redefine and reexamine this important audience to better understand and reach them.
From brand perceptions to demographics and spending habits to political beliefs, there are endless ways millennial parents are unique. Let’s examine just few ways they differ from and are similar to the larger groups they are part of:
Influential social media mavens
It’s no secret that millennials are more connected via mobile technology, have greater access to online research and favor social media use more than any generation before them. Not surprisingly, millennial parents continue these strong habits. In a recent study, millennial moms have 3.4 social media accounts on average (compared to 2.6 for other moms), and spend an average of 17.4 hours per week on their social networks (4 hours more than other moms). With increased online and social media use comes greater access to product research – and more importantly – greater emphasis of peer-to-peer recommendations. Millennial moms are reported to ask for product recommendations from their networks an average of nearly 10 times per month (compared to just 6 times for other moms), and provide online recommendations themselves 3 more times on average each month.
What’s more, 84% of millennial moms rely on recommendations from their peers “far more than traditional advertising.” Their connectedness makes them very influential online voices, and extremely collaborative with others like them. These influential voices need to be actively listened to and they need to be connected with to make important endorsements for the brands they love.
Pragmatic spending…but online still rules
While the projection of Gen Y’s spending influence is relatively uncontested, millennial parents’ incomes are actually remaining relatively stagnant. Those households earning greater than $100K are estimated to remain flat in upcoming years, and those between $50K – $100K are actually reporting a 7.6 percent decrease. With their new lifestyle changes, however, millennial parents unsurprisingly report significant spending increases on household items, food, gas, etc. Their spending habits, therefore, become much more pragmatic in nature. They are more likely to seek out deals and expect the products they purchase to be worth their buck.
An interesting finding is that millennial parents seem to be widely impacted by recent internet data breaches. This is not all bad news for online marketers though. While 29 percent of millennial moms say they use the internet less due to privacy concerns, studies show that this same group of parents are much more likely to forego privacy concerns for the sake of a discount. Nearly 32 percent of millennial parents prefer to learn of deals via email (compared to just 17 percent of other Millennials), and over 12 percent are interested in mobile deals sent to them (compared to just 2.5 percent of Millennials without kids). A takeaway? Reaching the Gen Y parent online must be done strategically; making sure the value of the offers outweighs the perceived risks of shopping online.
It’s clear that an important subset of consumers is emerging in millennial parents. Like generations before them, parenthood is bringing a slew of changes in their values, habits and spending preferences. We as marketers must work to understand these changes and adapt. Overlooking them, or assuming they fall into their wider categories of just “millennials” or “moms” opens us up to missing a very powerful group of brand enthusiasts and purchasers.
Take it from a millennial mom-to-be.