26 May 2024 09:26

Advertising & Marketing

How to Win with Millennials: The 5C Code

You may have picked it up: Millennials are the crowd of the moment. As such, everyone seems to be running around to figure out what to do to please them. Amongst a sea of more or less successful ideas, some brands have started to really embrace new approaches that manage to gain attractiveness towards these very specific people, citizens and consumers. We identified 5 pivotal principles to increase your appeal in the eyes of Millennials:

1. CLEARING instead of cluttering

Millennials want brands to help them save time, effort and brain power during their consumer experience. Their high expectations of their customer journey have been building up during the past 10 years, at the same pace as digital technologies. Every purchase must now be free from hassle or superfluous steps. It has to be intuitive, seamless and for low involvement purchases, often as simple as pressing a button.

Amazon has become one of the most iconic brands amongst Millennials, solely by succeeding in providing consumers with the best possible customer experience. Whatever they may need, wherever they may live, Amazon delivers – sometimes within an hour. They recently launched Amazon Fresh in the UK, a same-day groceries delivery service. Amazon also started developing restaurant delivery services, competing with other emerging actors – from Deliveroo to UBER Eats – reflecting perfectly the urge for ultimate convenience and instant gratification that is central to Millennial consumption.

2. COACHING instead of selling

Leader brands have managed to involve Millennials in a self-accomplishment process. They have managed to deeply anchor themselves in consumers’ lives, often so much so that they are thought of as more of a long-term partner than a product or service provider.

An example of this is Under Armour. With an aim to empower athletes, it has built its image as a reliable partner that pushes customers to unleash their athletic potential. To a certain extent, this makes them a more bullish NIKE. The last Under Armour campaign, “Rule Yourself”, features Michael Phelps in a beautifully crafted and inspiring video conveying the philosophy of “what you do in the dark puts you in the light”. This powerful tagline perfectly conveys the idea of empowering aspirational Millennials to become stronger and happier in the long run.

3. COLLABORATING instead of imposing

The economic climate has slowly pushed consumers towards new consumption models. Millennials, who were not yet stuck in old habits and challenged top-down hierarchy between brands and consumers, have contributed to developing collaborative consumption alternatives. As a result, they expect companies to either leverage collaborative consumption within new offers, encourage consumers to co-create products, or even collaborate with each other to offer better value.

UBER’s partnership with Spotify to offer an enhanced, more personalized experience to city dwellers enables UBER users to interface their two accounts, effectively offering them to choose the soundtrack for their ride, making the experience that bit more personal and engaging.

4. CATERING instead of pushing

Contrary to what some could think, YOLO (You Only Live Once) is no longer the motto Millennials live by (although was it ever more than a meme?), at least not financially. Of course, Millennials are not restraining themselves, but they need a strong rationale to buy a product or service. Since utility has become the core of the value equation (it is the lens through which Millennials assess any product or service) they aim to show a certain discernment or good sense. Brands now have to provide Millennials with more useful products or services; they have to change their life beyond a surface-level sense of satisfaction.

Chase got Millennials addicted to its new credit card, the Sapphire Reserve, thinking specifically of Millennial utility. How? The card offers the most usefulness and value in the market, through perks for carrying it and rewards for using it. It offers up to US$300 a year in credit to reimburse users for travel expenditures, gets rid of foreign transaction fees, and offers a point rewards system. It is definitely the best utility and value provider in the market, and fully catered to Millennial expectations (e.g. travelling over luxury expenditures).

5. CHANGING instead of leading

The 4 previous principles are crucial to engage Millennials. But today, personal satisfaction is no longer the single route to win their hearts and loyalty.

Indeed, Millennials are more connected, open to the world and aware of the threats and consequences their actions can bring. That is why Millennials increasingly care about brands’ broader impact on the environment and society, to the point that it is now an important criteria for them when choosing a product or a service.

P&G’s Always exemplifies this by shifting mentalities about women for a positive impact, through its powerful “Like a Girl” saga. The brand wants to help break stereotypes about women and reduce gender inequalities. By doing this, Always has become a reference for Millennials and broadly, for all women.


Catering for the need of consumers by becoming more useful for them each day, clearing every hurdle along their journey, coaching them to get stronger, collaborating with them as well as competitors and, last but not least, changing the world: here are ambitious challenges all brands should undertake to earn Millennials’ preference. As their values infuse the whole of society, these 5Cs can act as a framework for more global/universal thinking from brand managers.


Written by Constance Desforges Project Director Added Value & Paul Chatalic, Project Executive Added Value.

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