Born: 1981–1996
Size: 71 million / 22% of the population / projected to surpass Baby Boomers as the largest generation by 2020

This post is part of our series on the ways that Utility Customer Relationship Management affects customer engagement. Because they serve people of all ages, utility messaging needs to be multigenerational.

Millennials grew up with unprecedented access to technology like computers and mobile devices. They witnessed the rise of the internet as children and of social media as either children or young adults. Important events during their young adulthood include:

old-computerEven a quick glance at Wikipedia’s timelines for the 20th and 21st centuries shows three major themes: computing, terrorism, and environmental and social issues. Millennials saw at least two oil spills and one nuclear disaster widely covered: the Exxon Valdez oil spill, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster. They grew up with Oklahoma City and September 11 terrorist attacks in popular consciousness. And they had unprecedented access to digital technology from their earliest years — with portable devices, the Internet, and the World Wide Web dating to the earliest childhood of even the oldest members of the generation.

Perhaps not surprisingly given events during Millennials’s early lives. They were raised by late Baby Boomers and early Gen Xers at a time when popular parenting wisdom urged more involvement protection, and caution about self esteem — including everyone gets a trophy. In contrast to the latch key Generation X, their parents were very involved and protective.

Like the Early Baby Boomers, this generation is motivated by causes. They started Occupy protests, for instance. As this might imply, they don’t have automatic respect for authority, but they do respect authority figures at work in addition to ones who align with their causes. They are more connected than any prior generation via technology especially mobile and social media. And they sometimes even describe themselves as impatient due to this instant gratification.

Request a consultation to learn how utilities market to millennials and how to improve your target marketing strategies to build better relationships with your utility customers.

Like Generation X, Millennials feel a tremendous amount of financial pressure and, as recent backlash to an article about retirement savings illustrates, Millennials have not reacted positively to messages about saving for retirement. While it is unlikely that a utility would even want to do either of these things, it is wise to use care with phrasing and choices of visual media — which are subject to different interpretations by different audiences.

Where Baby Boomers coined the term mid-life crises, many Millennials are experiencing, or have experienced, a quarter-life crisis due to the stresses of transition to adulthood. As British author and marketing consultant, Simon Sinek has famously said, they are more exposed than ever to their friends’ filtered presentation of their lives via social media, to an overwhelming amount of choice about life and seem to be finding transition from a childhood of unprecedented shelter to an adulthood of that is less stable than their parents more stressful than previous generations.

Importantly for utilities, Millennials:

  • Are at least as informal as Generation X
  • Are financially savvy and educated
  • Have high levels of student debt, so they are interested in saving money
  • Like situations where everybody wins
  • Seem to enjoy information sharing more than any generation
  • Are motivated by various social and environmental causes
  • Can be intolerant of people and information that does not align with their causes
  • Expect to engage digitally, preferably from a phone rather than a tablet
  • Place a high value on fun

Marketing to Millennials — application points for messaging:

  • Keep messaging short
  • Use digital, especially mobile-friendly digital, channels
  • Emphasize speed, fun, ease, and information sharing aspects of communication
  • Use gamified solutions to inject fun into causes customers already care about
  • Connect utility and customer behaviors to financial savings and to causes like the environment
  • Don’t try to distract from downsides or run the risk of backlash when this tech-savvy generation finds out
  • Express initiatives in terms of causes, but use some care not to come out on the wrong side of those causes
  • Provide ways to make the experience unique, but also provide information about the good customers are doing as a group
  • Enable as much digital interaction as possible from billing and outage updates to energy efficiency initiatives


Brilliency understands how utilities market to millennials and can complement your online presence to help you improve relationships with your utility customers.
Find out how:

Request a Consultation

Additional Sources