5 ways small businesses can attract millennials

Authored by Samantha Newman.
6 min read
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Millennials have buying power and small businesses ignore marketing to them at their peril, says Noor Khan of Company Bug.

Millennials, the term generally considered to mean anyone born between 1980 and the early 2000s, are now the largest living population.[1]

This means there is a huge pool of consumers which small businesses may be missing out on if they are not taking into consideration how to attract them. The habits of consumers have changed and evolved over the years, and millennials are no exception.

In a study carried out by Manta (external link), it was found that only 15% of small businesses are currently marketing to millennials – that’s a staggering 85% of small businesses ignoring a huge and powerful segment of the consumer population.

Reasons that small businesses gave for this included not having enough of a budget to market towards the generation, and a small percentage also thought that millennials don’t take marketing seriously, so it’s better not to waste finances aiming at the group.

However it was also found that the small businesses that do make an effort to market to millennials will see positive results, with 80% of them reporting positive results from millennials that they marketed towards. This proves that if you can get it right, it will be worth your time and money.

Small businesses that do tend to market to millennials also reported that the most popular medium to reach the huge group is social media, with 56% of small businesses using social media platforms to reach them.

Surprisingly, it was found that the most connectivity with millennials was through Facebook, even though newer social media platforms such as Instagram have become a widely used phenomenon.

Targeting millennials can turn a business around, so here are five common methods to attract them:

Social media

The rise of social media has been through the lifetime of millennials, and tends to be used by them on a day-to-day basis. Therefore, one of the first steps in attracting the generation is to create social media accounts and keep them active with engaging content.

Social media lets you connect to consumers, and creating a relationship with your followers allows your brand to expand and have further reach. Millennials want quality content though, so in order to get them to engage with you, you need to be smarter than constantly posting about your products.

They are often looking on social media to see what’s ’trending’, what people are talking about, and things that entertain them such as funny lists and articles. So you will want to try and create this kind of content in order to capture and keep their attention.

It is also worth noting that many millennials also prefer to use social media to voice their queries and complaints so you will want to be active enough on social media to respond to them in good time.


In order to really attract millennials, you must first understand them. This generation has seen the rise of ‘influencers’ from YouTube sensations such as Zoella and Alfie Deyes, to fashion bloggers such as Chiara Ferragni.

The generation has become accustomed to these influencers and connect with them in a way that adverts simply cannot compete with. ‘Hard-sell’ tactics will likely drive millennials away.

Yet if you take an indirect approach and get an influencer on board to endorse you by putting your product to use and letting others know about it, it can be much more effective.

Perhaps consider collaborating with influencers that have a huge reach to really influence the buying habits of consumers.

Although small businesses may not have the budget to collaborate with the likes of Zoella, there are thousands of influencers that will be easier and cheaper to work with and will still have a positive impact on your business.

Get online

Small businesses are becoming increasingly digital, but being online is now vital to connecting with larger audiences and reaching more people. Not being online is unthinkable and all small businesses should have some kind of online presence, which can vary from having a website to being active on social media.

Creating an online presence will enable you to engage millennials and really get your brand and business to the forefront of their attention.

For example, you may run a café and think that having an online presence will not affect your business. But millennials have a habit of reading reviews about products and places before they try them, they want to see pictures and comments from peers.

This means creating a space where your customers can give you positive reviews, and where others can see them, can help attract more millennials to your business.


Making sure that your website is mobile friendly should be a must for any small business looking to interact with millennials. In a recent study carried out by CEBR (external link), it was found that 83% of internet users shop online, and one in five of them are using their mobiles.

Millennials have grown up around technology and are the first ‘digital-native’ generation – their phones have become an extension of the body. Not only does this mean that having a mobile-friendly website has never been so important, but it also means you might want to consider investing in mobile advertising.

Mobile ad spend has recently overtaken desktop spend[2] and this is largely down to the taste and personality traits of millennials, and how they are consuming media.

Investing in mobile will enable you to reach this valuable audience on the devices that they spend the most time on.


Everyone loves a good deal and millennials are no different. The generation buried in student debt expect savings on-demand across all digital channels and they are happy to share personal information in order to get savings.

Businesses can choose how to issue discounts whether it be on their websites, social media pages, or they may ask customers to sign up for their newsletter or download their app in return for a discount code, allowing them to capture consumer data.

You can also tailor and personalise your discount codes based on previous purchase history, making your customers feel like they are catered to and creating brand loyalty.

Finally, you might consider partnering up with third-party websites to get exposure with different audiences by offering them a discount. For example partnering with a website such as Unidays (external link), which has a vast collection of savings for students, would allow your business to reach a huge number of millennials.

These are just some of the ways that your small business can attract millennials, but the real key is to constantly keep up-to-date with new trends and technology, because you can bet that millennials are.

Millennials are a huge and valuable consumer group, and it is clear that more small businesses need to start catering for, and marketing to them. If millennials make up your target audience, then ultimately they could be the difference between your business being a success or not.

For more information and tips for small businesses visit Company Bug (external link)

Find out more about our Hiscox small business insurance


[1] http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/

[2] https://www.iabuk.net/research/library/h1-2017-digital-adspend-results

At Hiscox, we want to help your small business thrive. Our blog has many articles you may find relevant and useful as your business grows. But these articles aren’t professional advice. So, to find out more on a subject we cover here, please seek professional assistance.

Samantha Newman

Samantha Newman is the Regional Manager for Hiscox's Maidenhead office.