Why Millennials Distrust Marketers


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Finding the right marketing recipe to target millennials is a challenge that B2C marketers have been grappling with for some time now. As more members of this elusive generation enter the workforce, B2B marketers must follow suit.

Millennials currently make up 50% of the workforce, and by 2020 they’ll make up 75% (source).

The impending majority of millennials in the workplace means that B2B marketers need to quickly become experts in capturing this unique generation’s attention as they target decision makers within prospective businesses.

Millennials are digital natives, which is a significant distinction from the previous generation of baby boomers that had to adapt to technology once it became widely available. This immersion of technology is a defining characteristic that sets millennials apart from previous generations. They have never known a world without computers, and life without an iPhone seems like a distant memory.

With unprecedented access to information, services, and goods, marketers can no longer rely on one-way interruption marketing to capture attention and drive revenue from this group of tech-savvy young adults. The traditional spray-and-pray method will fall on deaf ears because millennials see through the mass marketing approach.

mass marketing methodMass marketing tactics that worked 30 years ago are considered ridiculous today.

The millennial generation prefers two-way communication, and with the advent of social media in particular, a participatory economy took root. Millennials are more connected than any other group, and they want to develop relationships with brands that understand their individuality and are willing to engage with them.

Modern marketers need to adjust their marketing strategy to accommodate the shift away from marketing to millennials, and instead focus on marketing with them. Genuine participation and engagement goes a long way in gaining trust and brand loyalty from this unique and hyper-informed group.

Marketers often struggle with speaking the same language as millennials. Sometimes older brands fail to evolve with the times, and miss the mark with their messaging. A prime example of this is when a brand uses self-promotion as a marketing tactic.


Oracle is on the right track by incorporating Twitter into their marketing strategy, but their self-promotional messaging does not encourage engagement. When companies actively focus on selling messages, trust in their brand decreases.

Brands may also go toward the other extreme in an attempt to relate too closely to millennials. The Twitter profile @brandssayingbae regularly curates examples of brands egregiously over-using or incorrectly using words or phrases that are considered common to the cohort.

Bae Use Bae Use

Use cases such as these can be more detrimental to a brand among millennials than simply not trying hard enough to appeal to their common interests.

Even though there are more sources of information available than ever before, millennials are selective of where they gain such information. When asked to rate how much they trust advertising on a scale from one to five, the average score was 2.2. In comparison, millennials rated their closest friends as a trustworthy source of information, with an average score of 4 on the same scale. Furthermore, 84% of millennials do not like or trust all forms of advertising, which leaves marketing and advertising professionals in a tough position (source).

While marketers cannot become every millennial’s best friend, they can encourage advocate marketing. If millennials trust and value information from their peers above all else, marketers should prompt a dialogue between their current and prospective customers, as well as any industry leaders that have a proven influence independently.

Millennials present a unique challenge for modern marketers, and their preferences will continue to evolve with time. Adapting to these changes both in channel and message will help ensure the best results overall. Maintaining two-way forms of communication and using targeted messaging that appeals to their individual needs will go a long way to gain and keep their trust.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Orinna Weaver
Orinna is a Content Marketing Specialist at Radius. She helps marketers grow through constructive content and specializes in business-to-business marketing strategies.


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