2 Brands That Are Winning the Millennial Marketing Game

August 30, 2017

Marketing to millennials is like trying to fit in with the popular crowd: Only partner with other cool brands, always look stylish, share just-the-right stories that make you seem more interesting — but don’t try too hard.

Millennials make up about a quarter of the U.S. population, and their $200 billion in annual buying power can come with strong brand loyalty — if you have the right products and the right message. Social media should be part of your content strategy, but that’s only part of the puzzle. Millennials don’t just purchase products — they buy their own personal aesthetic, built from products they believe in. Here’s how two brands are successfully engaging with millennials.


Originality and exclusivity are paramount to millennials. Just ask Netflix, which is transitioning toward 50 percent original streaming content. This may mean fewer licensed series and movies, but it also allows Netflix to zero in on niche audiences and add more subscribers in highly targeted increments.

Netflix nails nostalgia marketing with this audience. The streaming service’s revivals of Full House and Gilmore Girls in 2016 garnered immediate excitement from millennials (and others) on social media. These series are a win for traditional engagement metrics, with expanded viewership, exclusive subscription access to original content, and viral digital buzz.

Successful throwback content is scientifically more likely to result in conversions. According to the Journal of Consumer Research, people spend more money when they’re feeling nostalgic. Netflix masters the nostalgia factor without mocking precious memories. Take the Netflix original sci-fi series Stranger Things, set in Indiana in the ’80s. It gives younger viewers a glimpse of life before Facebook existed, while older generations get to relive their childhood years.


Emily Weiss, founder and CEO of beauty blog Into The Gloss, knows that community-driven products are the holy grail of the beauty industry. Her inherent understanding of native digital content helped fuel the success of her cult beauty brand, Glossier.
Before Glossier’s initial four-product line was even available, customers were drawn in by a seamless — and fun — multi-platform user experience. From blogger relationships and targeted Facebook ads to an expertly crafted Instagram gallery, the brand built an enthusiastic digital community — boasting over 60,000 people on the product waitlist and a 45% conversion rate. How many brands can say that?

Glossier’s approach to beauty marketing is what makes this brand work for millennials. Traditional beauty ads highlight transformative qualities of skincare and makeup, but Glossier accentuates individuality, with streamlined makeup that purposely doesn’t mask every imperfection. Glossier’s simple, minimalist branding parallels its less-is-more tagline: “Skin first. Makeup second.” To enhance the customer experience, each Glossier order arrives in a reusable pink bubble-wrap pouch, with cartoon-like stickers to personalize products (cue the nostalgia factor). Plus, the sustainable, plant-based products are a win with socially conscious consumers.

Marketing to millennials requires a precise blend of digital targeting and cohesive messaging. Thanks to mastering that balance early on, Glossier is primed to become an iconic millennial beauty brand.

While a creative approach to engagement is key for millennials, the core principles of content marketing remain true: Meet the right audience at the right time, in the right place, with the right content. Millennials want to be loyal to brands and support companies they believe in, so a well-defined digital strategy specific to their values and mindset can drive success. How do Netflix and Glossier’s current moves compare with your latest millennial-focused projects?

Hanley Wood Marketing
430 First Avenue North
Suite 550
Minneapolis, MN 55401


Vince Giorgi


Front Desk