I’m a millennial. I’m part of the largest generation by population size. My unique sense of self and my less than traditional approach to life-stages has marketers captivated.

If you’re a millennial too, we share more than being able to sing all the words to Jagged Little Pill (it’s okay to admit it). We don’t view products in the same way that previous generations do. Where they focus on price, or use or luxury, we instead value investment, community and being part of the story. We reject traditional advertising. Instead, we prefer to have relationships with brands. Because of this, lifestyle brands really resonate with us.

A lifestyle brand “focuses on evoking emotional connections between a consumer and that consumer’s desire to affiliate him or herself with a group.”

HR_hero_3A lifestyle brand “focuses on evoking emotional connections between a consumer and that consumer’s desire to affiliate him or herself with a group.” Thanks Wikipedia. To me, a lifestyle brand promotes a way of life. Nike does not sell me shoes; it sells me the motivation to push my limits. The Body Shop does not sell me natural soap; rather, they reaffirm the fact that I love nature and care about the environment. By connecting with me on a more personal level, lifestyle brands sell me an identity, or an image, rather than a product.

Lifestyle branding isn’t new. In the past, self-expressive products (such as a car or piece of clothing) were considered lifestyle brands. What is new is the diversity of companies striving to implement lifestyle branding. Today, many companies are attaching emotional involvement to their products and labeling themselves lifestyle brands. The companies that manage to do it well are reaping huge financial benefits because they’ve built a sustainably strong, emotional and long-term bond with people like me.

Check your purse, your pockets, or your desk. As I do I find Apple, Virgin, Starbucks and Ford. They are winning with me. These lifestyle brands aren’t just promoting to me, they are shaping my life.

Lifestyle brands don’t just promote, they shape lives.

mac-and-pcFor most millennials, brands are no longer something we want to buy, instead they are the image we want to exude. For example, “I’m an American Apparel girl” and I’m attracted to a “Hugo Boss kind of guy”. While watching the ‘I’m a PC, I’m a Mac’ commercials, most of us took a look at ourselves and asked, “Who wants to be the dweeb?”

As the most educated, diverse, tech-proficient, and soon to be largest American generation ever, our importance cannot be underestimated. Collectively we are expected to spend more than $200 billion annually and $10 trillion in our lifetimes – so we must be involved in this process. On behalf of my generation, I say, ENGAGE US! We are one of the most loyal fan bases any advertiser could ever ask for. As incredibly diverse individuals, a ‘one like fits all’ campaign will not reach us. Instead, engage in a dialogue. Let’s have a conversation about our lifestyle. It won’t be easy, you will run through rounds of testing, but by finding out what we value and by building a connection with us, you will win over our loyalty. As Edwin Wong, senior director at Yahoo put it, “Brands must stop interrupting what these consumers are doing and become what they are doing”.

As Edwin Wong, senior director at Yahoo put it, “Brands must stop interrupting what these consumers are doing and become what they are doing”.