How to market to millennials? It’s a question that I’ve heard buzzing about the industry since I started four months ago. Being a part of this vast 21-38 age group myself, it first caught my attention at The Beverage Forum. For some reason, it never occurred to me how hard we can be to reach. And with an age gap of 17 years, millennials also are the most diverse adult population, according to Chicago-based Mintel’s “Marketing to Millennials” report. That makes it even more complex when searching for the right target audience within the millennial generation.

When I began researching for this month’s Special Report (page 22) on marketing trends, I couldn’t help but begin to compare myself to the research from Mintel. According to the company, millennials are different in that brands need to understand how millennials see, act and feel in order to target their brands effectively. Luckily for advertisers, millennials are receptive to advertising under the right circumstances. I will admit that commercials can be just as entertaining as the show. But, obviously, commercials aren’t the best — or only — means to reach the millennial consumer.

Mintel’s report highlighted a few points that millennials expect from brands, namely transparency and authenticity. The demographic also desires relationships but most importantly “if they don’t like you, they’ll ignore you,” the report says.

 It’s been interesting to see how this generation has affected marketing. Just the way that TV commercials were once a challenge, integrating a relationship-based marketing model might soon become the norm as millennials and iGeneration, ages 8-20, continue to dominate in the market. Millennials account for 24.6 percent of the U.S. population generation share, and as iGeneration enters the economy these marketing techniques might only become more important.