Millennials are so diverse and complicated that one typical “millennial shopper” doesn’t exist. But, because millennials are so diverse, many myths are developed about this target demographic. This blog post examines five common myths about the millennial shopper – and why those myths are wrong.

Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation to date, which makes them difficult to market to. With so many different ideas and opinions, it’s not a surprise that a survey from eMarketer recently found that marketers feel the emergence of millennials will have the second greatest effect on their industry, with mobile being the greatest. With a projected $200 billion annual spend starting this year, this isn’t a demographic that marketers can afford to pass over. Millennials are critical to the success of any organization. There’s a challenge in this, however: with such a desirable demographic that’s so large and diverse, how do you know your marketing strategies will be effective?

In this blog post, we aim to dispel five myths about the millennial shopper. In doing so, you can build a better affiliate marketing strategy to meet the needs of your millennial shoppers. We’ll explore what the misconception is, why it’s wrong, and how millennials actually behave so that you can build an optimal marketing strategy for your affiliate marketing efforts.

1. Millennials Are Online-Only Shoppers

The Myth

Millennials are tied to their screens, from watching videos on YouTube to sharing content on social media. It only makes sense, then, that most of their shopping behavior is done digitally. They’re likely to spend little to no time at all in a store when they can just buy a product online.

The Reality

It’s true that millennials are savvy digital shoppers, but online-only is false. Millennials are no more frequent in their online shopping than Generation X, and millennials place more importance on a retailer having a storefront than any other demographic with 82% saying that a physical storefront is crucial, according to eMarketer. This is likely because millennials love to shop for the experience. They want products they can experience in real life, as this will likely help them choose one product over another.


The disconnect that marketers might perceive is that millennials are bargain hunters.They go where the best deal is whether that’s in-store or online. The idea of showrooming and webrooming is highly prominent among this demographic for that reason – a millennial might be in store with a product in hand, comparing prices on their mobile phone, and choosing to buy online and wait for the product if they get a better deal. Likewise, they might be shopping online and decide to take a trip to the store if they realize they can get a better (or even matching) deal in store, either through in-store offers or through in-store pickup. Regardless, the fact remains: millennials are more than online-only shoppers, and enjoy the in-store experience as much as any other demographic.

2. Millennials Follow Brands They Like on Social Media

The Myth

If a millennial follows a brand’s page they must like the brand and enjoy the latest updates on what the brand is all about, what they’re offing, and more. On top of that, because they’re following the page, they’re likely to share the content. It’s a great way to grow in the millennial demographic and win over more millennial shoppers!

The Reality

Millennials see social media sites very differently than their advertiser counterparts, according to a recent report by Accenture. While advertisers see people who follow their social media pages as “loyal fans of the brand” the reasoning for millennials to follow a page is much different. Accenture quoted one millennial who told them that they ‘do ‘like’ certain retailers on social media, especially if they give me access to coupons or deals or more information’ but that beyond that it would take a strong emotional connection to get them to like a page for no other reason.

If companies are looking to create an emotional connection with their millennial shoppers, they can still leverage social media – but instead of relying solely on their company’s social media pages, advertisers should be looking to work with influencers. Influencers can establish credibility, trust, and authenticity with a millennial – in short, build an emotional connection with them to a brand or product. Companies can optimize their social strategy by focusing more on what millennials want on their social media pages (information, deals, and coupons) while letting influencers, content publishers, and other affiliate partners help build the emotional connection.

3. Millennials Have No Brand Loyalty

The Myth

Millennials are brand mercenaries: they’ll go from brand-to-brand without a second thought or care about how long they’ve been buying Brand X or how many products by that brand they own.

The Reality

Of all the myths you’ll hear about millennials, this is one of the most challenging to get to the bottom of precisely because millennials are so diverse and such a large demographic. And, to some extent, there is an argument to be made that millennials are, overall, less loyal – but not because they’re “brand mercenaries. Instead, it’s because when they make a purchase decision they’re more focused on the cost of a product rather than who makes it.

Even with that in mind, this doesn’t mean millennials are less loyal to certain brands. An eMarketer survey, for example, found that millennials who were parents were more loyal to brands in the travel and entertainment industry such as hotels, airlines, and restaurants. Additionally, Accenture observed that millennials are actually very brand loyal…when the brand earns their loyalty. Brands can earn loyalty with focused, personalized messages to millennials that focus on delivering what a millennial wants and are active in trying to win the millennial’s business.

The solution for advertisers is to focus your partnerships in areas that are actively reaching millennials while providing them with the personalized content and deals they need in order to establish loyalty. Build brand recognition and loyalty through influencers and content publishers, and provide a variety of deals that will give millennials the options they want based on their purchasing preferences, whether that’s coupons, deals, cashback, loyalty/rewards, or something else entirely. Position your brand so that it’s reaching millennials in a number of ways, and let them choose how they want to be reached based on those options.

4. Any Message Will Do

The Myth

As long as millennials are being reached across a number of different channels, the message shouldn’t matter much, right? Content can be transferred across different platforms, and the overall messaging should be focused on one singular message. Over time, millennials will recognize these messages and respond to them.

The Reality

Not only is the philosophy “any message will do” wrong, it’s completely contrary to what millennials are really looking for.

Millennials don’t want to hear the same content copy they’ve heard everywhere else, they want to know ‘what does this product do for me’ and ‘how do I benefit from this product?’ In other words, millennials want personalization. They’re even willing to share their information to get a more personalized experience: according to a study from Mobile Marketing & Technology, over 70% of millennial shoppers said they were willing to share their mobile usage data if it provided them with a more targeted, personalized experience. 

That’s where the advantage of the affiliate channel comes into play. Publishers who understand what their audience wants and looks for can tailor messaging to meet the needs of their millennial visitors. If this is a content site, it might mean creating content around the specific needs of millennials by highlighting how millennials can use products in their life. If this is a deal site, coupon mall, or loyalty/rewards program, the messaging might be tailored to the deals and shopping behavior of millennials. Making the touchpoints feel personal not only amplifies the message, it makes the millennial feel that their needs are being met. This also ties directly into the idea of building loyalty.

5. Millennials are Cheap

The Myth

Millennials are the penny-pinchers of demographics. They’re not looking to spend money, they’re not looking to invest in anything, they’re one step away from looking for handouts!

The Reality

Being cheap and being cost conscious are two entirely different things, and millennials are cost conscious.

Let’s look at the facts: millennials have a lot of debt from their education. They entered the workforce during the recession and, despite things being better, they’re still wary. They aren’t making nearly as much as baby boomers were at the same point in their lives. Many are still looking for employment.

In other words, millennials aren’t cheap, they’re being conscious of their budget and are more strategy in how they’re making their purchases. Cost is a huge incentive for any millennial, so they’ve become masters of navigating deals and finding the best price point they possibly can. A study from RetailMeNot shows that in addition to the personal relationship (personalization) with a brand, they want deals from the brands they shop with.

For a marketer, being able to recognize that millennials are this mindful about the cost of a product is a huge advantage when creating campaigns to reach them. Promoting deals and recognizing their behavior as shoppers can make all the difference in getting their attention and getting them to convert on a purchase. In fact, this concept of being cost conscious is a cornerstone in reaching them: advertisers should focus on partnerships that deliver personalized messages to millennials that highlight the benefits and deals that they can get. Work with a number of different publisher models to reach the expansive and diverse generation that are at many different stages in their lives and looking for many different things. Design the offers to reach millennials whether they’re on their desktop, browsing on their phone, shopping in store, or any combination of their behavior. Most important of all, recognize that by cutting through these millennial shopper myths you’ll have a strategic marketing advantage to reaching this highly sought after demographic.