The Secrets to Selling to Generation X and Millennials

Reaching Millennials and Gen X is a challenge.

Growing up after Watergate and coming of age during the two Iraq Wars, both Gen X and the Millennials are generally suspicious of big institutions, big business, the government and the media. Independent, self-directed, and technologically savvy, selling to them is a challenge because they take everything with a grain of salt.

How They Are Different from Other Consumers

• They tend to delay marriage until their late 20s, if they get married at all.

• They have little brand loyalty.

• They consider themselves entrepreneurial. Even if they don’t start their own business, they have entrepreneurial careers.

• Even more than Baby Boomers, Gen X and Y parents dote on their children excessively and spend accordingly.

So how do you sell to a group that is intrinsically distrustful and cynical? The secret is to use those qualities to your advantage.

Of course you must avoid any hint of a hard sell — nothing would turn them off more. What they want is authenticity. They are not going to simply trust what they read, what your brochure says. They want to see and understand for themselves the value of a product or service.

The other important thing is to reach them where they are: Online. More than almost any other generation, Gens X and Y live on Internet, networking, shopping, reading, watching, meeting, and gaming.

The Importance of Your E-Small Business

One especially potent way to reach them, of course, is through the plethora of social networking sites out there like Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on. The savvy marketer who wants to tap the Gen X and Millennial market will have a significant online social networking presence.

Moreover, according to the website for the book Groundswell,

“Gen Y-ers — 18- to 26-year-olds who came of age with broadband, cellphones, and iPods, among other things – stand apart from older generations because of their hands-on approach to the Web. Marketers trying to anticipate future consumer trends should tune in to Gen Y-ers. As these do-it-yourselfers become a primary consuming audience, they will carry with them their cross-channel shopping enthusiasm, active blog usage, and reliance on the information-

The essential thing then to understand about selling to the new generation of younger adults is that they are Web-savvy, blog-friendly, and, not only do they see through the spin, it turns them off. Your pitch to them has to take all of that into account.

© 2017 The Strauss Group, Inc.


Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is the senior small business columnist at USA TODAY, the Editor-in-Chief here at Small Business Connection, a speaker and spokesperson. He can be reached at

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