Colourful illustrations dominated by yellow and green which reads What Makes Them Buy: Millennial Men.

What Makes Them Buy: Millennial Men

8 Defining Traits About Millennial Men That’ll Help You Target Your Marketing Efforts to Convert More Sales

Millennial men. How do you get ‘em? How do you move Millennial males to Click, Like, Engage, Opt-in, and Buy in your next digital marketing campaign? For the past few years, younger Millennials have garnered a reputation for being difficult to target, but the crop of spenders born between about 1980 to around 1997 (WHY ARE WE STILL SO FUZZY ON THIS?) aren’t as hard to read as marketers make out.

So… in our trademark irreverent way, I’m going to tell you in this post how to find, get in front of and woo Millennial males by telling you some of the shopping habits we’ve seen showing up repeatedly in the data.

Let’s do this.

Infographic image displaying a graph on generations defined.

Yeah, They’re Different, But…

It’s true that targeting Millennial men is different from targeting Gen X and Boomers (at least until Millennial men start having kids). But that’s not really because Millennial men are weird. It actually has more to do with their levels of exposure.

In this post, I want to identify eight important traits of Millennial men that you can leverage this holiday season during your campaigns. And when the shopping frenzy comes to an end, you can lean on these same traits to refine your marketing strategies during the Super Bowl and on into March Madness.

Saddle up.

Trait #1: Millennial Men Have Access to Tons of Information

Millennial men are digital beings. Not in a Ghost in the Shell kind of way. But most Millennial men probably cram to remember a time when they didn’t have the Internet at home, at school or both. In 1997 when the youngest Millennial babies were being born, only 18 percent of U.S. households had Internet access.

Three years later, the percentage of U.S. homes with the Internet had more than doubled, reaching 41.5 percent. 2001 was the tipping point; half of American households had the Internet. That means by the time the youngest Millennials entered kindergarten, most of their friends had the Internet at home.

infographic image displaying graph on percentage of households with computer and internet.

Millennial men are used to having access to copious amounts of information. They are self-educated now… which means the role of the marketer has shifted from that of an informant to more of an adviser, ironing out the nuances between products and services that may look the same at first glance.

The way marketers approached Boomer and Gen X men when they were in their 20s and 30s probably won’t work on Millennial men because they can literally Google what you’re saying as you’re saying it.

And Google’s faster than your wordy pitch.

To deliver more than just information you need to focus more on delivering insights and communicating the experience consumers will have with your product.

The influencer who comes to mind for me is Lewis Hilsenteger from the popular YouTube channel Unbox Therapy, currently boasting 12.5 million subscribers and 2.3 billion video views. Hilsenteger showcases and reviews all sorts of cool technology and broadcasts his reviews to social.

Screengrab of Unbox Therapy channel on YouTube.

Trait #2: Millennial Men Are the Most Educated Generation of Men in History

If that sounds like a killer stat, that’s because it is.

According to “15 Facts About Millennials,” a report released by the US Council of Economic Advisers (you can view and download that report here), Millennials are the most educated generation in US history.

In 2013, 47 percent of 25 to 34 year-olds had a post-secondary degree (Associates, Bachelor’s, or Graduate degree). Another 18 percent had attended college without earning a degree.

The way to a Millennial man’s heart (and wallet) isn’t through gimmicks and celebrity endorsements. They’re too smart for that, and we have seen too much as a society to believe the words of a celebrity whose only connection with a brand is the contract he signed to promote that brand.

Except for Matthew David McConaughey, who sort of looks like he put out word that he needed a car and the Lincoln folks began building cars just for him.

Screenshot of a video on Oscar winning actor Matthew McConaughey vs an 1800-pound bull from YouTUbe.

Only 1 percent of Millennials say they are moved by ads from brands. Instead, they make their buying decisions based on independent research, online reviews, and user-generated content.

Like Millennial women, Millennial men favor authenticity over ads, social proof over self-proclamations, and the recommendation of a friend (even an online friend) over a million-dollar Super Bowl spot.

That said, a Millennial man will likely respond to the same types of content his grandpa did – ads that are funny and clever, and ads that turn regular guys into heroes by putting them in extreme circumstances. (I’m sure this explains how Captain America has made his way down through the generations over the last 77 years.)

Trait #3: Millennial Men Earn Less Than Boomers

Millennial men earn 20 percent less than their Boomer dads did at the same stage in life, despite being more educated. When compared with their parents, some Millennials are earning only slightly more with college degrees than Boomers did without degrees.

Infographic image displaying data on wage growth for college-educated workers.

The average college educated Millennial has more debt in the form of student loans than did their parents at the same age. Plus:

  • Millennials are less likely to have jobs while attending college
  • Millennials have experienced slower wage growth than Gen Xers and Boomers.
  • Millennials aren’t buying homes at the rates their parents did. They are renting longer and living in multigenerational homes.
  • In 2016, one in three Millennials lived in multigenerational households, more than any other generation. Men between the ages of 25 and 34 are more likely than women the same age to live in multigenerational homes.
  • Percentage wise, there are as many Americans living in multigenerational homes now (20 percent) as there were in the years following the Great Depression (21 percent). In stark contrast, in 1980, when Boomers were in their 20s and 30s, only 12 percent of them lived in multigenerational homes.


 Infographic image displaying data on no. of americans living in multi-generational household.

Source: Pew Research

Orange dominated poster on The 4-Hour Work week.

But don’t cry for Millennials just yet. While Millennials are earning less than their parents did at their age, a recent survey found that Millennials are also more likely to plan their spending than Gen Xers and Boomers.

In fact, older Millennials and younger Gen Xers were the primary participants in the life design movement that Tim Ferriss kicked off with his New York Times best-selling book, The 4-Hour Workweek a decade ago, a lifestyle centered around the idea of living richly by spending money and time on the things that matter most to you.


CEO and author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich, Ramit Sethi starts off his Personal Finance class at this way: “I don’t know… Is anyone else tired of 65 year-old guys telling us we can’t spend money on lattes?”

Life design is about investing in the things you want and restricting the resources you put into the things you don’t want. For some Millennials that could mean downsizing your living situation after getting a much-deserved raise and spending more on international travel. It could mean renting a house instead of buying a home, or using rideshare services instead of buying a car and using the money you save to explore other passions or fulfill other indulgences, like eating out, or subscription meal services.

Most of us probably can’t imagine our parents being okay with that. Heck, when I called to wish my uncle a happy birthday a few years ago, one of his first questions was about my living situation.

“Do you live in an apartment?” he asked.

“I live in a condo, Unc,” I answered.

“Do you rent or do you own?”

Classic Boomer line of questioning, right?  

When it comes to things like renting vs buying or saving vacations for retirement, Millennials are the anti-Boomer. But Millennials do spend on the things that matter to them.

The Cover page of a book named "I will teach you to be rich" by Ramit Sethi.

In 2017, Millennials led in holiday travel and holiday shopping despite being less likely than previous generations to stretch their budgets with credit cards. By and large, they would rather pay in cash than to rack up high-interest credit card debt, and with less disposable income, that takes planning.

According to Charles Schwab, 34 percent of Millennials have a written financial plan compared to 21 percent of Gen Xers and 18 percent of Boomers.

That said, you need to play the long game. Millennials are planners and researchers with more than enough information at their fingertips to learn what they want to know about new products and services.

The path to purchase is basically a carnival [not so] funhouse.

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