The Millenial Preference

An alternative product and packaging viewpoint

Millennials, generally defined as the generation of people born between 1980 and 2000, want different things from products and their packaging than their parents’ generation. They are a generation that displays a healthy dose of skepticism about traditional product advertising, preferring to support brands that strive for a higher purpose as well as delivering quality. Cause marketing and product identity are two big elements of a product’s packaging that can attract millennials.

An environmentally-conscious brand is a big draw for Millennials. In one study, 83 percent of American Millennials said that the sustainability attributes of a product help them make purchasing decisions.1 Brands can tap into this sentiment by using eco-friendly packaging techniques or sponsoring environmental movements.

Millennials, who are often more mindful of a product’s sustainability proposition than previous generations, also prefer brands that give more information about the life cycle of their products and use natural ingredients. Nestlé, for example, has addressed this trend by committing to remove FDA-certified colors and artificial flavors from its chocolate candy products.

Millennials indeed feel strongly about the perceived authenticity of a product. A reference in brand positioning which is also designed to resonate with this mindset is Dove’s “real beauty” campaign, emphasizing natural looks over more traditional airbrushed ads.

Identifying with a brand is also key to cultivating Millennials’ loyalty. They want to know more about the brand than simply its products and what makes the brand unique. Chipotle has creatively incorporated this desire into its carry out bags, which each tell a unique story in a flashy font of alternating sizes and shapes.2 These stories distinguish Chipotle from other brands because they give the Millennials a sense of what Chipotle stands for.

Limited edition packaging offers brands another way to tell Millennials what they are all about. Coca-Cola creatively used limited edition packaging with its Taylor Swift collector’s edition packaging.3 The design, which featured a quote from Swift and her logo, celebrated individuality in a way that connected with Millennials. Millennials appreciate this kind of packaging because it shows that the brand is making a special effort to connect with them.

Some statistics:

  • 55 percent of Millennials are likely to develop a more positive image of a company as a result of cause marketing.4
  • Millennials are the largest generation by population with 79 million people and their purchasing power is $170 billion per year.5
  • More than other generations, Millennials desire opportunities to interact with brands, to be listened to anywhere and anytime, and to have personal, timely, and straightforward communication about their concerns and experiences.
  • Millennials are more likely than other generations to describe being available, supporting causes and having a brand personality as important things that brands can do to engage and interest them.6
  • They want brands that allow them to create a personal style; products that signal a lifestyle to others or denote membership in a distinctive social tribe. Technology no longer serves as a way for this generation to signal differences.
  • When Millennials were young – as with teens in previous generations – it was all about fitting in. but as Millennials grew up, their feelings changed. Today, more than any other generation, they desire to be seen as unique within a group and now a majority of millennials reject trends to develop their own personal clothing style. Three-fourths describe themselves as “authentic”.7


1 “Survey Shows Millennials Want to Buy from Eco-Friendly Companies”, Bridge Gate,

2 “Millennials and Packaging Trends”, Millennial Marketing,

3 “Millennials and Packaging Trends”, Millennial Marketing

4 “Millennials and Packaging Trends”, Millennial Marketing

5 “Six Tactics for Successfully Marketing to Millennials”, Marketing

6 “How Millennials are Changing the Face of Marketing Forever”, bcg.perspectives,

7 “What matters to Millennials – 6 Insights You Can’t Ignore”, Ideas to Go,