marketing to millennials with brand purpose by Blue Stout

5 Secrets for Successfully Marketing to Millennials & Giving Your Brand a Purpose

by Akshay Sachdeva
January 7, 2016

If your brand doesn’t have a “purpose”, you can kiss future sales goodbye.

Millennials have surpassed the number of baby boomers in the US, meaning the spending power is quickly switching hands. (source) While this demographic is growing, marketers are captivated by the challenge in appealing to them because millennials truly only care about one thing: purpose.

marketing to millennials for ecommerce by Blue Stout

The reason millennials buy a product or service is emotional, not rational. This generation is driven by a need to ‘do good’. They want to be part of a mission, contribute to something bigger than themselves, and associate with brands that are aligned with their values.

Statistics show that more than 85% of millennials relate their purchasing decisions (as well as their willingness to recommend a brand to others) to the socially responsible efforts a company is making.

Learning how to market to millennials could position your ecommerce company as an emotionally compelling brand. This means millennials could be willing to try your product or service, and also willing to pay a higher price if necessary.

In this article we’ll cover:

Why Has TOMS Had Success with Marketing to Millennials?

One major success story of a company that’s done well with millennials is TOMS. Based on the ‘one-for-one’ concept, the company donates one pair of shoes to a needy child in the developing world for every pair a consumer buys.

Their website and social platforms allow consumers to see their donations in action, so they can feel a sense of fulfilment from their purchase. The support from millennials is evident from the size of TOMS online community and the level of social engagement, with their Facebook page having more than 2 million likes. (source)

It’s no surprise that TOMS has grown exponentially as a business and made a mark in the fashion footwear industry. A deeper dive into why millennials buy from cause-driven businesses like TOMS reveals a “feeling of trust” is established between the brand and a Millennial when they can see proof of the brand’s core value.

Not only has TOMS influenced their consumers positively to get them to purchase, their philanthropic approach to business has shaken up their competitors too. With more companies now adopting a similar ‘one-for-one’ business model to boost their sales, it’s clear that the “marketing-with-a-cause” strategy is becoming almost necessary for brands wanting to capitalize on the millennial market.

Can You Reveal Your Brand’s Core Value & Develop a Purpose?

how to market to millennials by Blue Stout

If your business is not driven by social good, the challenge for your brand is to appear genuine so you can appeal to socially conscious millennials. There are many ways to resonate with the hearts and minds of this diverse & dynamic market segment.

Let’s look at a few strategies:

1. Change Your Perspective & Position Your Business Itself as A Force for Good

An easy way to tap into the “emotional” side of your brand is to change your own perspective on it.

Your business creates jobs, helps consumers satisfy their needs, helps your employees support their families, and adds value to your community – this is good! Changing the perception that millennials have about businesses being a predominantly selfish endeavor to one that contributes to the ‘greater good’ may be an innovative approach.

[image via Uber]

[image via Uber]

For instance, Uber, a solely for profit company that’s breaking government regulations and disrupting the taxi industry, is loved by consumers. The fact that they have capitalized on the inefficiencies of the taxi industry allows for many appealing things for customers like lower cost, nicer vehicles, and personalized rewards.

Outside of these appealing benefits, Uber has begun talking more about their “greater good” mission from the perspective of their drivers. In the life of the average American, it has become increasingly difficult to balance work and family time, and still pay bills. Uber drivers, however, can choose their working hours, leaving both their earning potential and amount of family time they’d like for them to decide.

uber driver benefits marketing strategy

[image via Uber]

“People tell us that they drive with Uber in order to get a pay raise that they’ve been denied for years. Or they do it to help themselves when they get in a tight spot. And drivers consistently report what they prize most about the Uber platform is the flexibility of being able to work around job, family, school, and other obligations.” (source)

By marketing their company as one that is “doing greater good for the average American family”, Uber has a well defined purpose, and is successfully reaping the benefits. On top of the  appealing price, convenience, and overall branding, this sense of purpose really allows the company to connect and resonate with millennials, who see it as a deeper mission to do good.

2. Get Involved with an Organization to be “Socially Conscious”

By supporting causes your brand can associate itself with, you can position yourself as a “socially conscious” business. You can do this by offering giveaways or discounts on your products to consumers who support the cause. This strategy may help in ‘finding your customer tribe’ by helping you connect with them at a deeper level. (source)

Oiselle & EMC influencer marketing for ecommerce

[image via]

A great example of an ecommerce company that combines a strong mission, a socially conscious brand image, and business success is Oiselle, a women’s running and athletic apparel business. Their strength is in their marketing strategy, which has helped the company build a large community of passionate women runners and athletes.

Through their strategic partnership with EMC, an organization founded by well-known supermodel Christy Turlington, Oiselle used commonalities like motherhood, running, and design to leverage the power of genuine influencer marketing for their brand and for EMC’s cause. They sell a dedicated product collection branded for ‘EMC’, and donate a portion of revenue made from its sales.

We’ve previously written about the entire story behind this influencer marketing partnership and how it’s bolstered the company’s community driven success. This should give you some concrete insights into how the best partnerships can sometimes start with something as small as a tweet, and turn into powerful marketing  for your business and it’s socially conscious initiative.

3. Be Transparent with Your Customers to Build Immediate Trust

Do you support sustainable business practices? Are you helping the local economy by sourcing your products from within your state? Are you charging a higher price because you are supporting a charity in the developing world?

Then talk about it!

Be honest, and tell millennials why you are doing what you are doing.

Millennials love to know the truth – they respond very well to transparency. Share information about your operations and future strategy, and millennials will love you for your openness. Use your marketing to stimulate dialogue with millennials and keep it a two way street.

The Honest Company, a billion dollar ecommerce company founded by Jessica Alba, takes immense pride in communicating their core values. A certified B-Corp, the company personifies ‘business good’ through transparency, integrity, and honesty.

The company is on a mission to build healthier and safer families, which resonates with parents (their target market) who have experienced the pain of finding quality products for their beloved newborns. They’ve won the trust of their audience through a focus on sustainable and organic products, and their culture of ‘paying it forward’ by giving back to the community.

Like the messaging on their website, The Honest Company echoes their mission in their social media content (above). If you choose to take the step to open up brand transparency, you should use all channels to reiterate this message. Your blog, social platforms, and your “Home” and “About Us” page should all reflect your company’s mission and cause.

4. Find a Cause to Support & Amp Up Your Content Marketing Around It

The one thing that you can do immediately is determine one cause you can and want to support. Be clear about why you support this cause. This cause needs to be aligned with your company’s product, values, and mission. Once you and your team have agreed on one, you can engage your customers via social channels with emotionally compelling content.

A great example of a brand using social media marketing for a good cause and driving unbelievable amounts of customer engagement is Charity Water.


They truly highlight the enormous potential social media has, with awesome videos on the stories of the lives of people they are impacting through their mission. Check out their Facebook page to get a sense of the power of video to drive engagement.

Though producing a high-quality video is a bit more of a budget commitment, delivering honest blog content is something you can do today. Share the content on your social media channels to increase visibility to your cause. By increasing awareness to Millennials of your cause, you are positioning yourself in their minds as “a brand with a purpose” and the trust will continue to solidify.

5. Turn Your New Marketing Tactics into Sales with These Tools

If the end goal of your marketing strategy is more sales or more leads, it is essential to have a clear conversion strategy in place. Tools like Kissmetrics Engage help in optimizing conversions and maximizing ROI through actively engaging your website visitors and getting them to take action. They do this by displaying  popups and calls to action triggered by a certain ‘event’ that happens during a website visit.

kissmetrics engage millennial marketing tool

Build more virality around your content by being proactive about asking your customers to share, like, and comment on your posts. A simple ‘Please share this post with your friends’ message on a post is more likely to be shared than one that has no call to action. Ask for what you want from your customers, and you’ll be surprised at the response.

Tools like Sumo Me are also an excellent resource to utilize for driving more traffic to your website during social and cause oriented marketing promotions. It can help you get more shares, build your email list, see where your website visitors are clicking to know more about their behaviour and also help with analyzing if people are really reading your content.

Find Your Brand’s Purpose to Conquer Marketing to Millennials

Millennials want to be inspired by your company’s mission and purpose. They want to be able to believe that you are not in business only for profit, but that your brand exists for a reason that’s truly worthwhile and makes the planet a better place. Make your brand inspiring, meaningful and purposeful, give it an authentic voice, and the profits from the millennial demographic will naturally follow.

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Akshay Sachdeva Akshay is a passionate marketer providing innovative & valuable insights to our blog. He loves to explore new ways of growing businesses & learning all about entrepreneurship. Interests that excite him include innovation, startups, health & fitness, meaningful experiences, golf & meditation.
  • Great post!

    • Akshay Sachdeva

      Thanks Ramin!