New research finds when it comes to marketing to millennials life stage is more important than age

DALLAS, TX –October 22, 2015 – Epsilon, the global leader in creating connections between people and brands, today released a report that debunks common myths about millennials including that they are all the same and their path through life is drastically different from how other generations lived.

#marketingtomillennials: a guide to understanding today’s millennials, a 2015 research report based on consumer segments from Epsilon TotalSource PlusTM data set, found that while millennials’ are digital natives that doesn’t mean they live on planet web. 53% of their wallet is spent in retail stores, while 39% is spent online. Additionally, millennials’ aren’t living drastically different lives. Their path through life is similar to previous generations only delayed due to higher education costs and rising costs of living.

Drawing on the analysis of data, the report found that across all industries age doesn’t determine preferences and behaviors, life stage does. While age does play a role in some stages of millennial behavior, marketers today need to focus on life stage not age. In addition, these stages don’t necessarily happen chronologically, nor do all of them happen for all people, and they aren’t mutually exclusive. Even within the stages, it’s ultimately about the individual. To enable marketers to more effectively reach this generation, the report showcases six life stages that millennials may represent:


These millennials are just beginning to take responsibility as an adult, whether they are heading off to college or taking some time off. They’re socially aware, health-conscious and like to support causes. Millennials in the #iamanadult stage are 5.3 times more likely to purchase health food and 9 times more likely to purchase academic resources than other stages. 29% of their annual wallet is spent on apparel.


A growing group of millennials fall into the #liveswithmom category, characterized as living with their parents due to the rising cost of education, competitive job market and increased time it takes to reach self-sufficiency compared to other generations. This group spends less of their share of wallet on rent and household expenses, meaning they have more to spend on themselves or others. As a result, they spend 41% of their annual wallet on apparel and accessories.


Millennials are following the same path to coupledom as prior generations, just with a delay, potentially due to the high population of millennials going to college and the subsequent struggle to gain financial freedom. Regardless of age, once millennials get married, their purchase activity and preferences begin to look more like a typical Generation Xer than an unmarried millennial. Married millennials are almost 2.5 times more likely than non-married millennials to have wealth savings above $25K. They also allocate 13% more of their annual wallet (than single millennials) on furnishings and décor.


22% of millennials 25-33 years old have children and millennials with children have characteristically different behaviors and tendencies than those that don’t. Millennials with children are engaging with social media differently than millennials without kids. Millennials with children are 1.6 times more likely than any other stage to cancel a credit card and spend 25% less of their annual wallet on apparel, fashion accessories, shoes, beauty and spa items for themselves.


With school loans and rising cost of living expenses, it’s generally taking longer for millennials to put down roots and buy a home. As millennials become more established, they are not only buying homes, they are making upgrades to current assets like cars. They also spend more of their annual wallet on apparel – 6% more than baby boomers and 15% more than Gen Xers – although they still have a smaller wallet to work with.


A growing number of millennials are choosing to remain single for longer and not have children. Single millennials have a lower average income compared to married millennials but spend 1.4 times more of their annual wallet on apparel than those who are married. They are more likely than other stages to have a higher average order on purchases.

“The key to marketing to millennials is to let go of the idea that they are completely different from other generations because of their age,” shared Jean-Yves Sabot, vice president, retail business development at Epsilon. “The research shows that age alone doesn’t determine their behaviors, life stage does. Marketers who are targeting this generation need to be savvy enough to navigate a maturing customer-base, nimble and flexible enough to focus on these fluid life stages and understand that their efforts must ultimately create a segment of one as this group of consumers expects timely, relevant messages based on their individual preferences.”

For more millennial facts and deeper insight into the life stages of millennials download the full report here.


Epsilon analyzed consumer segments from its TotalSource PlusTM data set, which provides unparalleled coverage and accuracy of core demographic characteristics of individuals and households. TotalSourceTM Plus offers more data points on more than 120 million U.S. households and over 201 million individuals. Over one thousand data elements are categorized in various dimensions representing demographics, financial information, lifestyle, market indicators, triggers, market trends and automotive information. For the purposes of this report a random sampling of 100,000 individuals were analyzed – per segment. Segments included: 18-24 Married; 18-24 Single; 25 to 33 Single; 25 to 33 Kids, etc.


About Epsilon
Epsilon is the global leader in creating connections between people and brands. An all-encompassing global marketing company, we harness the power of rich data, groundbreaking technologies, engaging creative and transformative ideas to get the results our clients require. Recognized by Ad Age as the #1 World CRM/Direct Marketing Network, #1 U.S. Digital-Agency Network and #1 U.S. Agency from All Disciplines, Epsilon employs over 7,000 associates in 70 offices worldwide. Epsilon is an Alliance Data company. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter @EpsilonMktg or call 1.800.309.0505.