3 Things Businesses Can Learn From Millennials Learning the habits, interests and personality traits of this vibrant demographic will grow your brand.

By Christie Garton

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Businesses have been targeting millennials for years -- working hard to spread awareness of their brands to eventually turn them into customers and advocates. While there's abundance of literature geared toward marketing to those millennials, there is actually lot that a business can learn from them.

Millennials are a passionate and well-connected group. By diving deep into their habits and adopting some as your own, your business can better engage with them in a natural and organic way.

1. Be authentic in all situations.

Authenticity is a trait valued by all generations, but millennials have extended that expectation to every person and business with whom they work. Millennials are honest and unapologetically open about who they are. They own it when they mess up, and are straightforward in their communications -- online and off.

Businesses can emulate this admirable trait by being honest about not only your products and services, but also your company culture and values. It's especially important to practice authenticity in crisis situations. Cohn & Wolfe released a study looking at what businesses people believed to be the most authentic. Most telling, some of the top answers were companies that messed up but, in the aftermath, were open, honest, and fixed the problem -- including McDonald's, Walmart and Target.

Related: Why You Should Be Fearlessly Authentic

2. Don't be afraid to show your selfie.

Selfies are taking the nation by storm, with more than one million of them being posted each day. It's a trend that was started by none other than millennials. Take that same strategy of openness for your company. Use your social media outlets to put a face on your company or brand, giving a behind-the-scenes look at your culture and a sneak peek at upcoming products or events while receiving real-time feedback.

Zappos uses millennial-friendly Snapchat to share behind-the-scenes images from the company's models and stylists. You don't have to limit yourself to just photos of people and products -- use your social communities as a focus group of sorts. Bring them in on the decision making process through surveys, videos and questions. Making your consumers feel like "insiders" will help deepen their affinity for your organization.

Related: 8 Craziest Selfies of All Time

3. Be an early adopter.

Millennials are 2.5 times more likely to be early adopters, being the first to test the latest and greatest new technology. Quickly picking up and learning new systems, operations, and even habits, this generation shows no hesitation when presented with something new. Companies, especially large ones, could benefit from taking up a similar habit.

Ford Motors Company is a great example of being an early adopter. Faced with a falling number of young people buying cars, they took a step back and reevaluated how they marketed their vehicles. I outline their full approach in my book, Marketing to Millennials, but in short, they tried things no other company had -- creating a Facebook app where millennials could build their dream Mustang, and partnering with Microsoft to create a connected entertainment system offered in all car models (even the lower-priced Focus), before many car manufacturers were offering a similar product in even their higher-priced models.

Related: How to Motivate Millennials, By Millennials

Millennials have changed quite a bit for businesses, demanding more transparency and connectedness. By taking a step back and emulating some of their best habits, businesses can not only become more appealing to the generation, but also better understand them.

Christie Garton

Founder of 1,000 Dreams Fund

Christie Garton is an award-winning social entrepreneur, author and creator of the 1,000 Dreams Fund (1000dreamsfund.org), a social enterprise which empowers young women in the U.S. through scholarships and life-changing advice. Garton is the author of the best-selling college guidebook for women, U Chic: College Girls' Real Advice for Your First Year (& Beyond!) (4th Edition, Sourcebooks 2015) and co-author of Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever(AMACOM 2013). Garton has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Huffington Post and U.S.News & World Report. She holds a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

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