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Beyond digital: Marketing to millennials IRL

When most people think of targeting consumers aged between 22 and 37 one word springs to mind: digital. This isn’t surprising, given the most affluent end of this generation spends the most time online of any group.

However, it’s vitally important not to forget one of the go-to acronyms of millennials— IRL, or In Real Life. Much as brands can’t afford not to engage with this section of society via social media and the Internet, they also shouldn’t ignore the fact that young people are incredibly active, sociable and always on the look out for new physical experiences.

According to research, 60% of millennials feel more fulfilled when spending money on doing ‘things’, rather than flashing cash on owning ‘stuff’. Unsurprisingly, then, clever brands looking to tap into this market are harnessing cultural and lifestyle activities the demographic holds dear in order to boost their exposure. Here are some examples of what we mean…


The idea of event sponsorship is nothing new, but winning millennials over with this approach requires careful consideration. For one thing, they are remarkably savvy when it comes to generic marketing tactics, and have an incredibly negative view of big business.
Music festivals provide an interesting counterpoint, though. Increasingly brands are directly involved in funding entire areas of live events, for example the Relentless Energy stage at Leeds Festival last weekend, whereby the energy drink giant hosted the outdoors after hours zone, partnering with DJ Mag in order to maintain credibility. The media outlet is aimed directly at a youth audience and has a heritage reputation within its sector.


Red Bull is arguably the master at this. Rather than simply helping cover costs in exchange for having logos and names in lights, the company has developed its own events from scratch, which are aligned with its own position and voice. Wakeboarding contest Harbour Reach, which we have provided PR for in the past, is a case in point, as is the annual Music Academy— respectively high intensity, extreme sports action, a key part of the Red Bull identity, and offering support to artists associated with nightlife and clubs where the drink, and its fridges, are a familiar fixture.

Life changing

Tourism Queensland hit the motherlode with its Best Job In The World campaign. Part PR stunt, part serious job offer, adverts ran looking for a caretaker to look after a paradise island in Australia, with a salary of £73,000 per year.
The concept generated more than 34,000 applications, which were then used as shareable content during a period of public voting as to who should get the job, 6.8million unique visitors to the website during each month of the campaign, 46,000 mainstream media stories and 230,000 blog posts, reaching 3billion pairs of eyes. Most importantly, though, there was a steep rise in visitor numbers as people, predominantly millennials, looked to experience the location’s beauty first hand.

Memory making

Air BnB’s Night At is perhaps the most eye-catching example of a brand helping make memories for their core market— millennials. The concept is simple, enter a competition for an overnight stay in an unforgettable place, but the execution is more complicated.
Most destinations are created by Air BnB, and only exist for the purposes of the competition— this appeals to a fundamental desire of young people; individuality. Locations have included a luxurious suite for four people suspended 9,000 feet above a ski slope, overlooking the court at the Chicago Bulls basketball team’s home arena, a full house floating on the River Thames, and an underwater bedroom in a shark aquarium.


House of Vans in London deserves a shout for its innovative approach to retail design, the popularity of which proves millennials still enjoy heading into the city to shop, providing the store itself is unique enough.

The multi-storey, 30,000 square foot building offers a vast selection of product to buy, but more importantly also includes a cinema, cafe, live music venue, art gallery and— crucially— a concrete ramp, mini ramp and street course to use for free. In short, it’s a one-stop shop for all things street and skate culture, packed with authenticity, another big selling point for this generation.


Want to learn more about marketing to this demographic? In September we’re hosting an event, The Millennial Mindset…

Register for the event


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