Marketing to Millennials

Love them or hate them this “rebellious” group of individuals lie between the ages of 18 to 34; and constitute the most diverse, apolitical and tech-dependent generation in history.

Millennials have come of age during a precarious time of epic technological change, disruption of traditional businesses and the democratization of commerce. With a generational group so diverse, stranded on the shores of a transient business environment; marketers will quickly have to understand, how to tap into this growing economic segment.

 By 2025 millennials will account for over $8 trillion, making it the most significant market segment

To understand the millennial better, let’s take a peek into their collective mindset. A non judgmental look at their traits may give us a better understanding into their motivations and subsequently business models, that cater to those underlying traits.

A study on Millennial Traits globally (various sources)

The graph summarizes 15 key facts, that may well be an indicative blueprint, on how marketing strategies will need to evolve in the future

While each of the findings holds a lesson to be derived from, below are a look at 4 traits that I found interesting.


1) Willingness to invest in assets

The traditional idea of financial security involved, building a portfolio of safe investments that would appreciate over time. You went to college, got a job, bought a car, got married, bought a house, had kids, saved money for their education, put some aside for a rainy day….and life went on.

This consumer framework loosely existed, for much of the 20th century and thus marketers had enough time to develop products; marketing them to customers at predictable intervals of their lives.

Today, with less than 15% of millennials willing to invest in major assets, it’s easy to misunderstand them as a bunch of footloose and fancy-free gypsies.

One must however, bear in mind, that millennials carry the highest debt compared to any other generation in history. Truth is, millennials grew up in a world of debt – most of which wasn’t even of their doing. Add to that a shrinking global economy, financial collapses all over the world and insane student debt levels, it’s no surprise that their purchase priorities are completely different from that of their parents.

Marketers and Innovators who have been able to disrupt the rent versus own model are the ones that will define the future.

Businesses like Uber, AirBnb, Netflix, Zipcar, reveal just the surface – of a fast emerging shared economy.


2) Brand Loyalty

The fact that only 31% of millennium seem to be brand loyal, may frighten some older marketers. However, the state of consumer’s hearts may not be as dismal.

Brand loyalty could strangely be seen a fundamental human characteristic. As human buyers (with emotions of course) we will always want to associate with people or companies that give us a sense of belonging, a feeling of safety and a relate-able vision.

So while less than 31% of Millennials claim to be brand loyal; the concept of consumer loyalty will always remain; the variables of the loyalty equation will change.

It will probably take more than just being a big brand with in your face advertising, to stay relevant and adored amongst the millennial masses.

Below is a brilliant all in one illustration by Bain & Co, which I think, is the new customer value pyramid



3) Casualization


Millennials are casual and these numbers will keep growing!

They prefer comfort dressing over stuffy suits, they prefer spending on experiences over assets and are OK with shortening age old English words, to be more efficient and useful in their tech driven lives. (OMG right!)

These may be reasons as to why, we are seeing a shift in mainstream design. An iconography of information, a mass movement towards lighter pastel colors, even established logos moving towards more casual typefaces………………………………….. casual will become the new formal.


4) Self Absorbed

In an age where the “selfie” is an actual word, let’s not kid ourselves and think that the world cannot get any more “self-involved”.

Here lies a huge area to market products aimed at individuality. Vivo Mobiles in my opinion ran a brilliant campaign, marketing their selfie-based phones with the line “This is not a selfie this is myself”. I think, this brilliantly touched upon that need of self-absorbance, in a strangely tasteful way.


Marketing then v/s Marketing now

While the principles remain the same, let’s see how marketing the ecosystem, they relate to has changed.



Product, Price, Promotion, Place, and Presley !

While Presley isn’t the 5th P in the marketing mix, an interesting parallel can be drawn from his 1969 hit single – Suspicious Minds.

The first paragraph beautifully summarizes consumers in pre internet times.,
while the second paragraph summarizes customers post the internet.

Back then if you wanted to buy a TV it would be a Sony and if you were looking for a car Ford or General Motors would be your pick.
This was a golden age of brand loyalty – not because marketers did a stellar job in wooing customers, but because people preferred to stick with what they knew and information about alternate options was not easily available. Thus rendering customers less aware and subsequently more content with whatever products that they were offered.

Often times, marketers used to take advantage of this ignorance and released advertisements that would be shocking by today’s standards


How times have changed!


The Devil’s trident?
The internet → marketing → Customer Loyalty:


The last 15 years have seen the marketing & advertising landscape go through possibly the most drastic changes in recent history.

The advent of the internet ushered in a new era of advertising.


With the emergence of new marketing channels, marketing $$ shifted from billboards to banner ads, from tabloids to tablets and from flyers to facebook.

While people of my generation realize how quickly the internet is becoming more intertwined with our lives and is the obvious platform for the “new age”, I just can’t understand why companies (especially in the Middle East)
turn a blind eye to this obvious truth. Firms with minimal online marketing presence will soon find themselves becoming irrelevant to their customers.


A recent Ernest & Young study revealed that brand loyalty played a mere 40% in the ultimate purchase decision and expected this number to further decline to 25% by 2020. Customers today, are more challenging than ever before. The internet has made available volumes of information, peer opinions, comparative analysis, and blogs were people write about their experience.
This has made customers more informed but also skeptical and unforgiving.

Marketers are now not only faced with the challenge of dealing with competing brands but also need to deal with volumes of external information
(whether good or bad) that their customers have access to.

Marketing for today’s world

By now it’s clear, that marketing has moved from a monologue to a dialogue”.
Companies have had no choice but to adapt their communication models to incorporate two-way communication.
Corporate facebook, twitter and youtube pages, have just one goal –
try to encourage dialogues with their customers and keep them engaged.

Influence marketing:
Marketing has taken on a friendlier approach, aiming to gain customers through influence rather than insistence. Brands that are able to build trust are more likely to succeed in the long run today. A great example can be seen in P&G owned brand Pampers, where they extend their value proposition to their customers by engaging them through a number of chat forums, blogs, advice columns and tips on parenting and baby care.

While this isn’t exactly what Starbucks or Zapos does, it follows the same tangent of creating a valuable customer experience.
(something almost unheard of in marketing plans, before the internet)

Louis Vuitton’s initiative through their online fashion and trends magazine -NOWNESS, is another good example of influence marketing versus traditional marketing.
Marketing tone becoming more approachable:

Right from the tone of copy matter on marketing collateral to major corporate rebrands, firms are moving towards creating a more approachable and trustworthy identity for themselves.

It is interesting to see how firms are dropping capitalized fonts and adopting lower case fonts, to imbibe a feeling of relate-ability with their customers.

While the reason isn’t completely known, internet chats and smses have created a new style of writing, making all caps letters appear as if someone were shouting.
No matter how strong and compelling a firm’s brand promise or statement may be, it takes very little to undo all that ! Firms need to concentrate on relationship marketing versus transactional marketing as with the choices customers now have today, they can easily say “We can’t go on together with suspicious minds.”

7 Types of Marketing Structures

When you think of marketing organizations, what structures come to mind?  Do you believe in the strictly traditional marketing structures?  How should one organize their marketing team for optimal efficiency, communication, and customer focus?

In this article, we will share the top trends in organizing a marketing team, as defined by a recent HubSpot study, The CMO’s Guide to Marketing Organization Structures.  In this, we will share the key features of efficient marketing teams, the structures that leading organizations use, and quotes from the organization leaders.

We hope these generous contributions shed some light on the subject for marketing leaders who are rethinking how to organize their departments to take advantage of changes to all stages at the buying process.

The Elastic Organization—Mindjet

Company Example: Mindjet

Company Headquarters: San Francisco, CA

Products or Services: Apps to help you brainstorm, plan, and manage projects.

Chief Marketing Officer: Jascha Kaykas-Wolff (@kaykas)

“As marketing continues to evolve, this organizational structure will adapt to whatever needs come about. Coupled with the adoption of new business processes like Agile Marketing, I believe functional depth expertise, coupled with cross-functional management of the work your team is focused on, will keep a steady stream of ideas flowing, more analytical decisions about which of those ideas to implement, and ultimately create predictability in the outcome of you and your team’s efforts.”

Structure of an Elastic Organization

Elastic Marketing Organization

Features of an Elastic Organization

Marketing Operations professionals oversee the complexity of the marketing tech stack, IT integration, hypothesis testing, and optimizing customer experiences in the product.

  • Flexible structure allows for adding headcount and/or functions seamlessly as the company’s product mix evolves.
  • Much of the marketing org flows through Product Marketing Managers (PMMs).
  • PMMs partner with functional experts in other sub-departments.

Source: Mindjet

Related: Emotional Marketing for B2B Companies

The TOFU Organization—Zendesk

Company: Zendesk

Company Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Products or Services: Helpdesk & Customer Support Software

Chief Marketing Officer: Bill Macaitis (@bmacaitis)

“I think future marketing org structures will put a much greater emphasis on post-lead metrics like Net Promoter Scores (NPS) as they attempt to maximize growth, minimize churn, and drive lifetime value.”

Structure of a TOFU Organization

Tofu Marketing Organization Structure

Features of a TOFU Organization

  • This is a team built to scale top-of-funnel (“ToFu”) growth, with content marketing as the largest group, followed by advertising and product marketing.
  • Tight alignment with the creative team is key – the head of the creative team reports to the CEO, and the department straddles both marketing and product.

Source: Zendesk

The Inbound Organization: HubSpot

Company: HubSpot

Company Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Products or Services: B2B Marketing and Sales Software and Apps

Chief Marketing Officer: Mike Volpe (@mvolpe)

“I threw my old org chart in the trash when I joined HubSpot and started from the beginning. We built our entire company for the inbound era, from marketing to sales to service, because the buyer has all the power today and you need to realign your company for that. I think our org chart is the future of the marketing org because of that – we focus on an inbound experience that the buyer drives, with us providing value along each stage.”

Structure of an Inbound Organization

Inbound Marketing Organization Structure

Features of an Inbound Organization

  • Focused on providing a buyer-driven inbound experience.
  • Adds value through content and contextual marketing (e.g., dynamic, smart site pages and content based on a prospect’s relationship to the company).
  • Steeped in buyer personas and delivering experiences tailored to those personas.
  • Content as a dedicated function allows it to serve multiple internal “clients” (demand generation, PR, sales enablement).

Source: HubSpot

Related: 3 Ways to Align Marketing & Sales

The Funnel Focused Organization: Forrester

Company: Forrester

Company Headquarters: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Products or Services: Proprietary market research, consulting, events, and peer-to-peer executive programs.

VP of Marketing: Jeff Ernst Forrester VP of Marketing (@JeffErnst)

“I try to rationalize this structure by saying that team 1 is above the funnel, team 2 is top and middle of the funnel, and team 3 creates materials for the bottom of the funnel and acts as a service bureau to the rest.”

Structure of a Funnel-Focused Organization

Funnel Marketing Organization Structure

Features of a Funnel-Focused Organization

  • Team 1 manages relationships with the top 50 publications and places Forrester analysts to speak at industry events.
  • Team 2 focuses primarily on demand.
  • Team 3 manages product collateral for the sales team and the production of anything that carries the Forrester brand.

Source: Forrester

Related: Is Your Marketing Modern?

The Culture Organization: GitHub

Company: GitHub

Company Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Products or Services: Hosted Git repository and social network for programmers, allowing members to collaborate on and monitor project development.

VP of Marketing: Brian Doll (@briandoll)

“I like to think of marketing as the intentional transfer of culture. It is an essential element to just about everything. Building great product is marketing. The way we talk to our customers is marketing. With that definition, I do see everyone participating in marketing to various degrees.”

Structure of a Culture Organization

Culture Marketing Organization Structure

Features of a Culture Organization

  • In this flat organization, everything is based on merit. Very few titles exist – only team names.
  • The goal of marketing in this org is to transfer the culture everywhere, in the product that’s built, the marketing assets used to drive awareness and adoption… even internally.
  • In this org, more than just defined “marketers” take part in marketing. The entire company is expected to uphold the culture of the company, whether through offline events, social media, or one-to-one user interactions.

Source: GitHub

Related: CMO vs. CIO: Clash in the Cubicle

The Customer Organization: Atlassian

Company: Atlassian

Company Headquarters: Sydney, Australia

Products or Services: Software that helps teams track, collaborate, code, and ship products.

Structure of a Customer Organization

Customer Marketing Organization Structure

Features of a Customer Organization

  • Built with a focus on the marketing funnel, from awareness-based branding to lead generation and nurturing, to customer retention.
  • The bottom of the funnel receives a great deal of attention, as the “Customer 4 Life” team exists specifically to nurture and retain existing customers. The team’s goal is to improve customer success on existing products (i.e. retention) while upselling new features.
  • Marketing Ops supports the rest of the organization.

Source: Atlassian

The Creative Organization: Rue La La

Company: Rue La La

Company Headquarters: Boston, Massachusetts

Products or Services: Members-only shopping site featuring some of the most sought-after brands in fashion, accessories, footwear, home, travel, and more.

Chief Marketing Officer: Robin Domeniconi (@RobindNYC)

“The future of marketing is truly dependent on the ability to integrate compelling content and commerce into a seamless experience. Creating that added value will keep customers loyal and coming back to your brand. That’s why all teams must be aligned and working together to deliver the most personal and enriching experience for our customers.”

Structure of a Creative Organization

Creative Organization Marketing Structure

Features of a Creative Organization

  • Marketing, merchandising, and creative align to provide Rue La La members with a fully integrated, seamless shopping experience.
  • Marketing is organized by disciplines (such as acquisition, PR, or social) across each business category (e.g. fashion, home, travel). The GM of each business line sets the overall objective.

Source: Rue La La