Millennials Inspire New Marketing Models and Consumer Trends

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

Historically, brands have closely monitored consumer “indicators” like awareness and brand loyalty to track spending and shopping trends. As categories and brands mature, combined with new consumer co-creators that don’t behave in linear purchase cycles, some of these marketing tools need to be re-imagined. One of the most traditional models used in the marketing industry is the AIDA model.

AIDA stands for Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action and works in a linear way. The consumer starts their brand journey by learning about the product, something peaks their interest, which sparks their desire for the product and finally they go to the store to make a purchase.


When we look at millennial consumers, who aren’t a passive target audience, but rather an active consumer co-creator participant a better model may look like this:

journeyAlthough this model has similar components to the traditional model (there is still a drive to get the customer to make a purchase) it is non-linear and accommodates the strong millennial desires to crowd source information and engage in peer reinforcement.

The path to purchase for millennials is different than other consumers and they do not typically go straight to an action after their interest is captured. Instead, millennials will ask friends, family and their online networks for recommendations and opinions – creating twists and turns within the path to purchase. Ultimately, after the product is purchased, a millennial will share their experience on the same networks they used to research the product in the beginning. This not only creates a sharing space but also allows millennials to gain access to peer reinforcement.   This is a key step in the path to purchase because it reaffirms their purchase decision and eliminates the possibility of cognitive dissonance.

Millennials Set Culture Trends: Did you see the shoes she had on? 

In the same way millennials have an effect on marketing models, they are also changing the way the general public is shopping. In our report “Making the Hot List,” we identified seven key trends that have affected the entire retail industry. Here is a snapshot of the top three trends.

  1. Fashion is social – the rise of fashion blogs, Pinterest and image based networking sites has led to a new idea of what “social” means for shoppers. It is no longer just getting together with friends for lunch and a day of shopping, it means using social media as a vehicle for making key purchase decisions.
  2. Fashion is personal – Instead of wearing clothes with flashy logos in big bold letters on their chests, millennials are focusing more on expressing their personal style through simple and unbranded clothing.
  3. Fashion is occasion specific – department stores are struggling when it comes to millennial customers because they offer too many choices. Millennials are purpose driven shoppers who will go to multiple stores in order to get the right outfit for a specific occasion.

Millennials Influence Other Generations 

The creation of the participation economy and Millennial Mindset® consumer has completely changed the marketing game. Consider the way millennials spend money, share information and connect with each other. Now, think about how many Gen X shoppers are adjusting their habits to be more in line with millennial trends. In the past few years, Facebook has seen a huge increase in Gen X and boomer users. Coincidence? I think not. The influence of millennials does not just stop at shopping trends but instead affects the entire culture of our economy.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.