Millennials now live in the middle of many key marketing demographics, and understanding them is important for any consumer-focused business. Take a look at the infographic below to get a taste of what it's like to be 27 years old in America, and read on about how consumer companies vie for this young generation's spending.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.

With the above statistics in mind, the Boston Consulting Group broke down the motivations of the Millennial generation into four statements:

  • "I want it fast, and I want it now."
  • "I trust my friends more than 'corporate mouthpieces.'"
  • "I'm a social creature -- both online and offline."
  • "I can make the world a better place."

These feelings have cemented trends like quick-service restaurants, same-day delivery from online retailers, and social-media marketing.

How to relate
As a tangible example, Chipotle (NYSE:CMG) offers its customers quick food with the socially conscious values that Millennials prize, and these values can spread through word of mouth among friends. Of course, Chipotle makes such values known through its own marketing, or corporate mouthpieces, but in such a way that friends can share the message with each other. The best demonstration of this is one of Chipotle's animated YouTube videos, which champions sustainable farming and has been viewed more than 8 million times.

Launched last September, a follow-up campaign with over 12 million views echoes the early career dissatisfaction of its target audience and introduces a game for mobile devices, with very little Chipotle branding involved. In the first quarter of 2014, Chipotle's same-store sales increased 13%.

How not to relate
On the other end of success, Twitter is the site of many marketing failures because of the lack of control brands exercise over the platform. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) attempted to hold a question-and-answer session with a vice chairman last November, asking for early questions to be tagged with a hashtag. Twitter users posted questions like "Did you always want to be part of a vast, corrupt criminal enterprise" and "What section of the poor & disenfranchised have you yet to exploit for profit." JPMorgan ended up tweeting: "Tomorrow's Q&A is cancelled. Bad idea. Back to the drawing board." While JPMorgan is not as reliant on single consumers as Chipotle, repeated failures could hurt the bank's future.

A future necessity
As Millennials begin to outnumber other generations, the companies you invest in will need to relate to them. Chipotle offers a good example of just what can be successful, and what you should look out for in your own holdings.

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Dan Newman does not hold any shares of the above companies. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.