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How to advertise to millennial parents

Millennials. The generation every brand wants to win over.

Millennials are unique, they’re tech savvy, highly educated and they’re currently the largest generation in Canada, representing 27.5% of the population, or 10 million people, according to Nielsen.

They’ll dominate Canada’s future (and future purchasing power).

With the oldest nearing their 40s, Millennial Moms and Dads are redefining the role of parents and breaking down stereotypes; and just as they’re changing the roles and expectations of their generation, marketers should also adapt the way they communicate with millennial parents.

In this post, we offer some insights on the millennial ‘voice’, break down some typical stereotypes, and show you some brands who are
doing it right when it comes to advertising to millennial parents.

The Millennial Voice

1. We’re not all the same

The term ‘Millennial’ was first used by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe in Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069, to describe people who would be entering the workforce around the year 2000.

Millennials are also called Generation Y, and were born somewhere between 1980 and 2000. Because there’s some flexibility around those
dates, this generation spans people in a variety of life stages, from students entering post-secondary education to young professionals, parents, and homeowners.

In Canada, this generation represents the most diverse generation in our history in terms of ethnicity, religion, and nationality, but also in terms of lifestyle and values. Millennials have overtaken baby boomers as the single biggest generation in the workplace. They’re changing company culture as well as traditional consumer habits.

Some millennials make more money than their parents, but the difference in income between rich and poor is greater than it was in
previous generations. Younger millennials may still be living with their
parents, while older ones are parents themselves.

The Environics Institute argues against lumping an entire generation into one single group, and rather segments millennials into smaller groups—‘tribes’—with specific social values (and consumer interests).

Marketing to smaller sub-segmented groups makes sense given
the wide range of life stages this generation can be in and their typical tribe persona.

2. We’re not your typical parents

Parents make up more than 40% of the millennial generation, and break down stereotypical gender roles as parents. Dads are more involved than ever, just as active as moms, and take active steps to learn to connect with their children, watching more parenting-related videos on YouTube, for example.

Millennial women have a more level playing field and are working in more traditionally male-dominated industries. Moms aren’t just parents; they’re also working professionals who engage in hobbies and passions.

According to Google insights, parents:

  • Prefer more intimate and less hierarchical parenting roles than their own parents
  • Want an open dialogue with their children
  • See their children as their best friends
  • Involve their children in household decisions
  • Incorporate their kids into their passions and hobbies

3. We look for authenticity

The ‘parenting’ label is just one part of a millennial’s identity. Millennials are tech-savvy and seen to be individualistic, craving meaningful and authentic experiences at work and at home.

Research shows millennials don’t like being the target of advertising but respond to brand authenticity and direct, simple ads. They respond to brands that reflect their values.

This gives marketers a chance to be creative, encouraging
engagement with millennial parents, establishing trust, and building bridges between their brand’s values and those of millennials.

4. We like a helping hand

Millennial parents want to do things differently than their own parents; they’re more open to advice and getting help from experts and thought-leaders. Millennials are loyal brand shoppers, and welcome branded content, if authentic and relevant to their values.

Brands can take advantage of this by providing answers and guidance to young parents in their advertising and establishing themselves as experts in their field.

5. We keep in touch through social

Millennial parents were the first generation of early adopters of digital technology, and heavily embrace social media. In Canada, 91% of millennials in 2018 had at least one social media account.

For this generation, communicating with smartphones, apps, and social media is second-nature, as is buying online. According to Hubspot, millennial parents are more likely to be influenced by blogs or social media sites than advertising. 

Brands who want to reach out to this generation can make
themselves more accessible and trustworthy by using social media and linking digital marketing or traditional advertising to social media campaigns.

6. We like to share

Millennials, with their dependence on social media, trust their peers and share what they love: 90% of them will share their favourite brands with their peers or buy a product after hearing about it from friends.

If a brand can establish good credibility with millennial
parents, there’s a good chance they’ll be influencing more than one family.

7. You can reach out to us through out-of-home advertising

It may seem counter-intuitive, but reaching out to millennial parents over through out-of-home (OOH) advertising makes perfect sense.

Traditional TV, radio, and digital ads are becoming less effective in reaching millennials, who are increasingly canceling their TV
subscriptions, streaming their music, and blocking their browser ads.

OOH isn’t as intrusive as other ad mediums. OOH ads can’t be blocked or muted online advertising. With brief attention spans of millennials of a mere 12 seconds, OOH can also deliver a powerful punch, relying as they do on brief, clear messaging.

According to a recent study, OOH is the favoured medium for advertising for millennials, beating television, radio, and newspapers. 

OOH allows brands to build direct-to-consumer engagement, building credibility with authentic advertising that resonates with Canadian millennial parents. Effectively using a blended strategy with OOH advertising gives brands a chance to rise above the noise and see their ROI increase with millennial parents.

This is particularly true if you’re advertising in locations with a high dwell time. Case in point,  a 2016 Study conducted by the Strategic Marketing Council showed that 84% of people spend approximately 30 minutes in the arena watching hockey or on-ice activities.

So if you’re purchasing Rinkboards from Rec Media – or any of our arena advertising products – your audience will be exposed to your ads for an extended period of time.

Who’s doing it right with millennial


Check out  Dove’s Men+Care campaign—which made headlines—of a compilation of real videos of men finding out they’re going to become fathers.


Audi’s #DriveProgress ad hit a note with viewers of the Superbowl, aligning their values with their target audience’s.

American Eagle

American Eagle gave up photoshopping in lingerie ads in a bid to show more authenticity, and sales increased as a result: #AerieREAL

Over to you

How about you? If you’re marketing to millennials, how is that going for you? Have you found our tips helpful? If you need a little more guidance on reaching millennial parents when they’re outside their homes, we’d love to hear from you.

And if you found this post helpful, please let us know by signing up to our email list.


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