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Marketing to Millennials

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 01: An Applebees restaurant is seen on December 1, 2015 in New York City. A new sodium warning that includes the logo of a salt

My fellow millennials, ask not what you can create, but what you can destroy.

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Millennials are apparently ruining the world, with our dislike of chain restaurants and cloth napkins. I would like to take this moment to apologize to the seemingly endless list of items millennials have destroyed.

Like every generation, Millennials are interested in different things than their parents were interested in. Similarly to how Puritan children decided they wanted to revive theater and that dancing was not a sin. Or how teenagers in the 1960s rebelled against their traditional blue-collar parents by putting flowers in their hair and throwing up peace signs.

Instinctively, children grow to be different people. They move forward and so, of course, millennials are not as interested in the things that our parents reveled in.

What businesses are not doing

Consumers are always looking for a better, cheaper option. When I look for a restaurant for dinner, I look at the reviews and cross-check well-reviewed restaurants for good prices, as do many. Chain restaurants such as Applebee’s have faced a huge financial slump that resulted in the closing of 135 restaurants. Buffalo Wild Wings also released a statement saying that the chain is facing a loss, too, since millennials prefer cooking at home or ordering in. Millennials prefer faster-paced restaurants and do not place as much value on long, multi-course dinners as their parents.

But can we blame an entire generation? Or is it up to the business to change?

Amazon, for example, saw that the way millennials shop has changed and updated its business model accordingly. Global marketing research team Prophet surveyed 1,500 customers on about 300 different brands, and they found that Amazon is the most relevant business to the millennial demographic in the U.S. Amazon seamlessly entered the digital age by introducing a user-friendly app, and marketed to millennials by offering student discounts and promoting products that appeal to millennials.

With some updating, chain restaurants could make a comeback. Millennials like all-natural specialty ingredients. If these restaurants found a way to provide a new menu that’s full of natural ingredients with the farm-to-table mindset while keeping costs low, they would become a hit.


Businesses have to put in the time and do market research to figure out what millennials like if they want to stay relevant and not succumb to millennial purchasing preferences as so many others have. The pressure to change is daunting, but change is necessary and inevitable. Some simple market research along with good strategy might be all that old brands need to end the millennial death plague.   

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Header image: Getty Images

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