Here They Come the Next Powerful Demographic Segment – Millennials

As we reach the end of 2014, many publications and informational websites are offering stories that look back at what has happened during the year and also provide a glimpse into what may occur in the future. At we are not immune to using this journalistic approach, so with this post we also look back and look forward to a critical marketing trend: the Millennial generation. Back in 2010, we first discussed this group, which are generally defined as those being born between the mid-1980s and the early 2000s, and we noted that a distinct characteristic of of Millennials is the impact technology has had on their lives and how that may shape their purchasing habits. Nearly five years later, two stories offer even more evidence of the impact of this demographic segment.

As discussed in this Entrepreneur Magazine story, a large number of Millennials are college students. In fact, in the U.S. there are 12.6 million college students between the ages of 18 and 24. Moreover, their purchasing power right now is significant. Besides what they spend on direct college expenses (e.g., tuition, room & board, books), they spend a whopping $163 billion on so-called “discretionary items” such as food, smartphones and clothing.

Of course, leading marketers are well aware of the buying power of this generational group, and they direct considerable marketing dollars to gain Millennials’ attention. For example, another story in Advertising Age lists the top 10 most popular advertisements among Millennials for 2014. It is likely not too surprising that six of the ten spots are taken up by food establishments, including Wendy’s (#1), IHOP (#2) and Papa John’s (#5).

While Millennials represent a healthy spending group that currently attracts the attention of select marketers, it will not be for another five or ten years before many other marketers consider them to be part of their target market. This is the time when Millennials will become an even more powerful force as they move into stable careers and begin to have families, thus leading to increased purchasing power. It will be interesting to see if the companies, who are presently doing well among Millennials, will continue to retain their support as Millennials grow older.