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Not All Millennial Customers Are the Same

If you’re like most retailers, you may often ask yourself how you can attract more millennial customers to your business.

This generation is often generalized in broad strokes and described using negative words like lazy, entitled and delusional. However, millennial customers are quickly gaining buying power and becoming a lucrative demographic for retailers. Zeldis Research Associates conducted a quantitative study from which the research firm identified five distinguishable segments of millennial customers.

Zeldis recently shared its research in a webinar called, ‘Seen One Millennial, You Have Not Seen Them All: Results of a Millennial Quantitative Segmentation.’ The research firm interviewed 1,000 U.S. consumers ages 12-36 who were balanced by gender, region, race and income level. All participants shared the responsibility in their households for making decisions regarding insurance and finances. Study participants were surveyed on topics including general behavioral attitudes, work and benefits, financial well-being, health and wellness, life, auto and home insurance, connectivity and other demographics.

Based on millennial participant responses, Zeldis identified the following segments of millennial customers, their characteristics and the best ways to communicate with each.

The Faithful Optimist

A high proportion of this segment is from the South and is likely to be non-white, heterosexual and religious. They feel happy, outgoing, adventurous and optimistic about the future. They’re reliable and focused on details. This segment is least likely to agree that saving money is a struggle for them.

How to talk them. Focus on responsibility, hard work, doing the right thing, stability, security and financial success. Use positive,  optimistic imagery and language to intrigue this segment.

The Struggling Parents

A high proportion of this segment is from the South, lives in rural areas and is more likely to be white. They’re female with children and have a lower income, are less educated and more likely to be homemakers. They feel politically apathetic, pessimistic about the future, the country and the economy and are less focused on technology than other millennial segments. People in this segment are the most likely to have no money saved for retirement or for emergencies, and have the highest amount of student debt.

How to talk to them. Focus on low-cost options, solving problems, offering solutions, making their life easier and helping to improve their financial situation.

The Secular Activist

A high proportion of this segment is from the Northeast and are mostly white. They are single and childless and include a higher proportion of people who identify as LGBT. They are more likely to be secular and more educated. They are politically liberal and active, pessimistic about the future and care strongly about the environment and free speech.

How to talk to them. Focus on communicating how your operation gives back, your corporate responsibility, sustainability, environment responsibility, low costs and progressive ideals (if they are already part of your brand).  

The Tech-Savvy Independents

A high proportion of this group lives in the West and in urban environments. They are more likely to be non-white and the segment skews male. They are conservative but nuanced. They’re optimistic about the economy, adventurous, dissatisfied with their relationships and spend a lot of time with technology. This segment has the lowest amount of student debt, and of the five segments, it is least important to them to save money.

How to talk to them. Focus on technology, easy of use, customer experience, brand value and financial success. You’re more likely to reach this segment through tech-driven channels.

The Pessimistic Conservatives

A high proportion of this group is non-white and lives in the West in suburban areas. The segment skews male and likely identifies as religious. They are politically conservative, pessimistic about their financial future, not focused on details and are dissatisfied with their relationships.  This segment earns the most money, with tech-savvy independents following closely behind.

How to talk to them. Focus on avoiding risk, increasing safety an security. Communicate traditional values and conservative ideals (if they are already part of your brand).


Based on your knowledge of your local market, consider which of these five segments of millennial customers may be part of your customer base and how the characteristics identified by Zeldis might impact the way they engage with your business. The segmentation information may be able to help you better communicate with and market to millennials who are current or potential customers in your area.

About Hilary Welter

As marketing and research coordinator, it’s Hilary’s duty to keep retailers informed about NRHA products and services and to help coordinate industry research projects. Additionally, Hilary is the voice behind NRHA’s and Hardware Retailing’s social media accounts. She appreciates a good book, spicy food, well-made horror films, craft beer and exploring new places near and far.

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