It has been said that nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity. Truer words were never spoken when it comes to marketing to millennials, who are as important to manufacturers and sellers of goods and services as they are complex.

The importance of millennials to marketers is reflected in the numbers. Today, the millennial generation, generally defined as people born between about 1980 and the early 2000s, is roughly 77 million strong in the U.S., meaning they currently comprise approximately one-fourth of the population.

According to the Boston Consulting Group, millennials in the U.S. represent about $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. Because of the size of the group, they are reshaping the U.S. economy in many ways. They will continue to do so because the millennial generation is the most educated in American history, meaning they will have high earning potential for decades.

While the numbers that define millennials are clear, understanding what makes them tick is a much more complex undertaking. A recent study of millennials by a digital marketing firm in the Midwest summed up the problem. “No one truly understands millennials,” the study concluded. “Not even millennials themselves.”

Overarching Trends

However, there are some overarching trends that help define millennials and their lifestyles, providing a roadmap for marketing to them. Among the most prominent of these trends is a desire among millennials to assert greater control over their personal and family health and wellness.

This is evidenced in many ways. Millennials are opting for organic food rather than fast food. They are choosing cities where they can walk over those where they have to drive. And more of them belong to fitness clubs than any other generation. Those who aren’t fitness club members exercise outdoors or at home, personalizing workouts to fit their busy schedules.

This heightened interest in healthier lifestyles, which has become fully engrained in the lives of millennials, includes a strong desire to purchase a wide range of products that feature odor control and long-lasting freshness.

This is borne out by proprietary Dow Microbial Control research which shows that:

  • Consumers are willing to pay premiums of five to 20 percent for products with odor-control and freshness protection properties.
  • Ninety percent of those surveyed, who currently own products with antimicrobial properties, and 60 percent who do not currently own these products, are interested in future purchases of products with advanced odor-control technology.
  • More than 60 percent of those polled indicated a very high concern about bacteria, parasites, dust, mold and the like in their homes.

The results of the Dow survey, which included 750 American adults 18 and older, 70 percent of whom are female, highlight an important opportunity for manufacturers and retailers of consumer products, including certain flooring products. The Dow research shows that more and more millennials and other consumers are establishing, or are willing to establish, long-term relationships with manufacturers, brands and retailers whose products have been treated to inhibit the growth of bacteria that can cause unpleasant odors, providing freshness protection over the product’s useful life.

Multi-Billion-Dollar Opportunity

To help manufacturers, brands and retailers take advantage of this multi-billion-dollar opportunity, The Dow Chemical Company introduced a global branding and co-marketing program in August 2016 that will signal to hygiene-conscious millennials and others that the products they purchase offer built in odor protection and long lasting freshness. The new brand, INTELLIFRESH™, will be prominently featured by manufacturers in a variety of consumer product categories, including, but not limited to, carpet, carpet tiles, rugs and home furnishings, as well as sports and fitness apparel, socks, t-shirts and footwear.

Initial products featuring the Intellifresh label will be treated with SILVADUR™ antimicrobial, Dow’s patented technology that provides odor control. When odor-causing bacteria land on the surface of treated products, they are neutralized on contact by Silvadur’s invisible freshness protection ingredient, so they stay fresher longer. Extensive testing has shown that Silvadur has a high degree of efficacy against a wide range of odor-causing bacteria, is highly durable and its application process is efficient and effective. Currently, a leading U.S. carpet manufacturer is treating its carpets with Silvadur.

Intellifresh is available to select manufacturers and retailers of flooring products who collaborate with Dow through a licensing and quality assurance program. The program is designed to ensure that all products featuring the Intellifresh label meet measurable and quantifiable performance standards, specifications and quality protocols and comply with industry and regulatory requirements.

Increased Sales and Higher Margins

This poses an opportunity for manufacturers and retailers of flooring products who understand the attitudes among millennials and other consumers about personal and family health and wellness. Those who respond to their need for products that feature advanced odor control technology and longer lasting freshness can be rewarded increased sales, higher margins and repeat purchases by loyal customers.