It’s no secret that millennials have the purchasing power to skyrocket a brand’s success. But reaching them is not easy. According to Business Insider, millennials will influence 30 percent of the retail sales market by 2020. And while many struggle with targeting this group effectively, some brands have become great models of success when it comes to capturing their attention.

The research group Study Breaks College Media took a detailed look at the strategies big companies are using to successfully win over millennials. For many brands, small changes can make a big difference. According to the research group, the following five brands are doing it brilliantly:


Aeropostale’s engagement strategy was specifically launched to gain favor with teens. Along with creating their own app that connects with user’s PayPal accounts to increase shopping, the retailer decided to install iPad kiosks in stores to draw more customers. As a result of their recent changes, Aeropostale’s mobile web traffic grew by 167 percent in one year.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell decided to drop the kids’ meal from their product line last year in order to focus on their targeting of millennials. They stuck with that strategy this year with the launch of a complete breakfast menu, resulting in a millennial culture of coolness. The fast food joint has approximately 10 million Facebook fans, more than a million Twitter followers, and over 300 thousand Instagram followers.

Jack in the Box

Jack in the Box originally won millennials over with its unique advertising, and in late 2013, they decided to reinforce their connection with their choice demographic by using the concept of conquering the late-night munchies. By adding menu items such as the stacked grilled cheeseburger, loaded nuggets (chicken nuggets smothered in two kinds of cheese, ranch dressing, and bacon), exploding cheesy chicken sandwich, and brunch burger (a cheeseburger with a fried egg and hashed-brown patty on top), Jack in the Box has successfully enticed millennials (and converted this enticement into sales).


Zappos has won over millennials, not by adjusting their product line, but by creating a company culture admirable to the younger generation. CEO Tony Hsieh’s book Delivering Happiness: A Path To Profits, Passion, and Purpose details company culture aspects at Zappos that attract millennials. There are three key aspects of that culture:

  1. Coaching: Happy employees are more productive. Zappos has a full-time life coach that is available to anyone in the company to help them set and achieve personal or professional goals (ex: finance, weight loss, promotions, new skills, etc.).
  2. Collisions: Zappos encourages employees to work remotely but at coffee shops or co-working spaces to increase people collisions (serendipitous connections that foster creativity).
  3. Community: Zappos recently moved their headquarters from a Las Vegas suburb to the former city hall in downtown Las Vegas. Zappos intentionally chose the location in an effort to revitalize a community that was once very entrepreneurial and creative. A priority for Zappos is to positively impact the community – and millennials love that.


Sharpie is one of the most successful social media companies when it comes to engaging with teens. In 2012, their social media-heavy back-to-school campaign helped grow their total market share to 89 percent of their category. The Social Media Examiner attributes Sharpie’s teen success to visual and engaging content, advocating for self-expression, and appealing to multi-screen and mobile platforms.

All of these brands have successfully reached milliennials by modifying products and services, tailoring content, or creating cultures fitting to this target audience. If a brand could succeed at doing all three, it could result in increased client acquisition, long-term customer retention, and brand ambassadorship. The key is to make this audience a true believer by responding appropriately to their concerns. So, if they say you’re a “tool,” don’t take it as compliment, use it to pivot your strategy.