How do you market to a generation that lives and works differently than any other generation before it? That’s the challenge that digital marketers are currently facing when it comes to grabbing the attention of the generation known as Gen Y, the selfie generation, the always-on generation or, the term most commonly used, millennials.

The Generation X is characterized by its strong work ethic, sound decision making and stability. Those qualities made marketing to Gen Xers easy. Millennials, on the other hand, have left marketers wondering how to grab the attention of a population that has their heads stuck in their electronic devices. But what seems to be a social faux pas is actually an asset in marketing. I’ve learned that the key to marketing to millennials is learning more about how they think and respond to ads.

Here’s what we know about millennials.

The millennial generation was born between approximately 1980 and 2000. Millennials are expected to be America’s largest generation by 2019, which means they make up a fair share of the marketing audience. Millennials started using technology the minute they could walk and talk. While some aspects of technology are foreign to other generations, it’s second nature to the selfie generation.

Society has also labeled millennials as being entitled, impatient and more likely to expect immediate gratification. But perhaps what is less known about millennials is that they’re a socially conscious bunch. They’re happy to pay companies more if they’re local or support a green economy.

Millennials shop differently than past generations.

In marketing to millennials, I’ve often had to remind myself that they’ve grown up in harsher economic times than Gen Xers. Millennials have a lower median income and less disposable income than past generations. They’ve learned how to live well on less, and that makes their shopping habits much different from their predecessors.

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