What Brands Are Doing Right When it Comes to Reaching Millennial Parents

Posted by: Ilana Bodker

Millennials. You’ve definitely heard of them. They’re the often-called “selfie generation,” who are allegedly drowning in debt, stuck in their parents’ basements and killing industries from cars to casual dining.

But if this is still the view you have of these consumers, then you’re behind. Millennials are moving on to their biggest endeavor yet — parenting — and changing the marketing landscape as we know it.

Millennials currently make up 40 percent of the parent demographic, and, by 2026, they will account for 80 percent of all parents.  As parents, Millennials want to include their children in decision-making and supply creative freedom rather than be dictators, a criticism widely received by Boomer parents. This generation enjoys spending time together as a family, even when each individual is consuming separate content. This phenomenon called “separate togetherness” manifests itself in more than half of Millennial families.

So, when it comes to advertising to Millennial parents, tailored messages and authenticity win. In their most recent digital campaign, “Be Prepared-ish,” the Babies “R” Us brand assures new parents that babies are difficult and it’s fine to not know exactly what you’re doing. The campaign features videos and slogans such as “Pick Up Duck. Drop Duck. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Be Prepared-ish,” and “Everyone Needs An Extra Hand. Parents Need Six. Be Prepared-ish,” over images of young parents.

“They want the real, but they also don’t want you to shine a mirror to them because that feels a little hard — that’s why there’s a lot of humor infused in what we’re doing,” said Carla Hassan, chief marketing officer of Babies “R” Us’s agency BBDO, to Adweek.

Since 82 percent of parents feel overwhelmed bringing home their first baby, Babies “R” Us’s witty honesty resonates with these first-time moms and dads trying to “do it all.” This is a newer facet of parenting that did not exist with Boomer parents — often workaholic dads and stay-at-home moms — and Gen X parents — dual income families with “latchkey kids.” Millennial parents want to get an education, have a dual-income family, be egalitarian parents and spend time with their children; it’s no wonder they feel overwhelmed!

American Greetings also targeted understanding and authenticity in its National Parents Day spot, “Not Alone,” which highlighted an infertile couple in their struggles to conceive. Although far from the humorous approach of Babies “R” Us, customer testing proved that even a more somber advertisement could resonate with Millennials, as this depiction of difficult times resonates in just as real of a way.

In essence, marketers must strive for honest content as opposed to the advertisements centered around worth and statistics that appealed to Boomers. Gen Xers are more similar to Millennials than Boomers in their desire for authenticity, but Gen X prefers information-based content over visual content (like the Millennial-targeted image and video ads mentioned earlier).

Parents as a cohort do have many commonalities, but keep these distinctions in mind to begin differentiating generationally between parents and winning over each of these consumer segments — particularly the influential group of Millennial parents.

To learn more about Millennial parents, check out our Millennial Parenting Brief!

About Ilana Bodker

Ilana's background in publishing combined with a lifelong love of writing led her to her interest in advertising and marketing. She served as Junior Editor for Jeff Fromm and Angie Read's upcoming "Marketing to Gen...See Ilana's full bio.