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Iris Gu

Millennials: There’s more to them than you think

Have you ever argued with your friends while travelling together? Picture this: You’re excited and totally ready for your trip with a fully-packed itinerary for each day–to soak up the most of a new country and explore as many landmarks as possible. However, your friend is a free soul who enjoys wandering off into any and every shop along the street and absolutely insists that she needs to find this top-rated restaurant for breakfast. You try convincing her to eat somewhere else as both of you don’t have a lot of time. “But it was highly recommended on the Lonely Planet!” She whines. You still have two more weeks alone with her so you maintain your cool and desperately think of all the sh*t you’ve been through throughout your long-term friendship and suck it up–the food better be worth it. 40 minutes later, after navigating through narrow and complex back alleys and getting lost a couple of times, you finally find the place and it’s closed on Tuesdays. As the millennials would say, “Mood.”

Lesson learned? Apart from choosing your travel buddy more carefully, it also shows how different we are even though we are within the same age bracket.

Millennials as a target audience is just 1 step down from targeting “everyone”

The term “Millennials” has become a buzzword for marketers ever since people realised the amount of purchasing power they have. In the past, an annoying brief usually started off with the sentence, “I want to market to everyone”, now it has changed slightly to “I want to market to millennials”, but that’s not any better. It’s 2019 and millennials are still labelled as a bunch of ungrateful, fickle-minded and self-entitled napkin-killers (apparently millennials are the reason behind the death of the paper napkin industry says The Business Insider) (Schlossberg, 2016) who are always glued to their mobile devices.

In reality, millennials are largely categorised as those born between 1981 and 1996 (Lim, 2018). This means that your target group could either be a fresh graduate who just started working or a mother who is expecting her second child. It doesn’t make sense to engage them using the same messages or strategy since their interests and concerns would be vastly different. Millennials appreciate the effort when a brand shows that it understands them and gives them the attention they crave and will be hooked to find out more.

Millennial consumer segments based on psychographics

According to the study “A New Perspective on Millennials” done by Interbrand Design Forum and Oracle, the Millennials can be classified into 5 core segments:

Up & Comers

Who are mostly male between the age of 18-25 with a higher education level and higher household income. They are highly active, ambitious and ready to take on the world, spending most of their time at sporting events, bars, hitting the gym and enjoying the outdoors with friends. They are also the biggest value seekers.


Who are in the older age bracket, happily settled into adulthood, married or committed with one or more children at home. Also known as Millennial Moms. They are more family-oriented and digitally-savvy; they are highly-active online, adept at using social media to seek information, and excited to try the latest, most in-trend products.


Might be the most sought-after group by the marketers. They are the youngest segment of millennials between the age of 18-25, either still in school or settling into their first job. Primarily female, they keep up with the latest and greatest through their big social networks but have low brand loyalty. This is the group that is most likely to start a trend.


The homebody, crafty and foodie segment–a unique and diverse group that can get creative with their budget, and don’t really care much for trends.


The ones who distrust advertising and see terms like “organic” as marketing lies.

Millennial segments in travel

Returning to the travel topic we started with–there are many different types of travellers with different travel goals. Some people pack their schedules in order to maximise their trip, whereas others prefer to take their own sweet time and enjoy their vacation free-and-easy style. Some travel to embark on adventurous activities like off-trail hiking or rock climbing, while some prefer spending all their time searching for famous eateries and cafes because food is life.

Understanding that millennials travel for different reasons, we developed different creative variations to target the different types–the adventurers, the foodies, the nature lovers, and the sanctuary seekers–for the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)’s latest campaign–Unbox Thailand. Unbox Thailand is a part of TAT’s bigger marketing initiative ‘Open to the New Shades’, which introduces new travel spots–not just in Bangkok but the rest of Thailand. We wanted to highlight the type of experience that is relevant to specific groups of millennials and encourage them to experience Thailand in the way that they want to.

Catch natural diversity

Hang and sweat it out

Slow down at striking salt fields

Dine by a red lotus sea

According to AdEspresso, almost 80% of millennials use their phones to research prices while 68.9% use their phones to read reviews (Animalz, 2018). In general, they are not impulse-shoppers and prefer researching beforehand to feel that their values are aligned with the retailer and brand. They also leverage on many channels to source for information and compare prices, to make sure that they are getting the best price for something they wish to buy.

As such, we invited several influencers to join us and share their actual experiences when exploring Thailand. They planned their own itineraries and was given full liberty to have fun and explore any city of their choosing in Northern Thailand. The influencers covered the four broad aspects of this campaign and enhanced the authenticity of the campaign–to inspire target consumers to embark on their own adventure.

Challenge to marketers

Don’t think of Millennials as this homogeneous, faceless group that can be easily stereotyped. Take on the role of an ethnographer, and delve into the millennial culture milieu to dig out their different passions, motivations, behaviours, personalities, likes and dislikes. Empathise with your audience and communicate with them in the way they want you to, instead of planning advertising campaigns as a one-way public announcement service. Millennials will love you for it.