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Wyoming Business Tips for Nov. 16-22

November 7, 2014

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Nicholas Giraldo, Wyoming Market Research Center researcher

“Who are these ‘millennials,’ and should I change my marketing to target this demographic?” Frank, Cody

Marketing to millennials (in the 18-34 age range) has both occupied and frustrated the minds of many advertisers and marketers lately.

With so many stereotypes floating around, it is hard to define them outside the “selfie-obsessed social media narcissists” or “overeducated with impractical degrees hipsters” images that exist in the popular mind today.

In its latest issue about millennials, Adweek examined recent survey data showing millennial spending figures that small businesses should pay attention to: 74.3 million millennials reside in the U.S., with purchasing power of $170 billion; and, by 2020, millennials will have $1.4 trillion in spending power.

With such figures, why aren’t more businesses paying attention to this generation? One reason is perception.

Remember, millennials didn’t know a world where there were only 13 channels, no Internet or using the phone to strictly make voice calls. Where older generations were left with few options, millennials have too many options and have been selective about what brands they purchase and identify with.

To better put millennials into perspective, Beloit University publishes a list called “The Mindset List,” which was created as a reference for faculty to better understand the changing perceptions of each new generation as it transitions into higher education.

As a long-in-the-tooth millennial (I was born in 1980), I can relate. I do not remember a world without MTV, personal computers or the Cold War, which were pulled from the class of 2002 list. For the class of 2018 (millennials born around 1996), the generation gap is even more dramatic. For these millennials, rapper Tupac Shakur was never alive in their lifetime, they probably never used Netscape as their Web browser, and they were in kindergarten when the Twin Towers fell.

Another reason is technology. Dramatic increases in home PC ownership, widespread adoption of mobile phones, and the rise of the Internet and social media have changed the way my generation defines itself.

Given these facts, Adweek’s takeaway from the millennial survey: They define themselves by technology and music and pop culture; they are more connected and more informed than any generation before; and they see themselves as global citizens and align themselves with brands that enthusiastically promote social, environmental or even political causes.

It will pay to develop your brand into one that millennials can identify with. Here are some tips to incorporate into your marketing plan: Tailor your brand to fit their lifestyle and personality; provide online content that is relevant and either entertaining or informative; pay attention to pop culture and integrate it into your marketing; provide an online experience that is immersive, approachable and easy to share via social media; and be socially responsible and encourage customer involvement.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.

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