Millennials on TikTok: How Brands Can Reach Gen Y in 2023

Want to reach Millennials on TikTok? Here’s an inside look at what Gen Y are looking for, to give your brand the marketing advantage.
Fanbytes | Millennials on TikTok

In 30 seconds:

  • The idea that TikTok is only for the youngest of social media users is so last year.
  • The popular platform makes it possible to cultivate brand awareness, influence purchase decisions and drive conversions — all in one spot.
  • Gen X — TikTok is coming for you next!

Millennials on TikTok are more than just fodder for Gen Z comedy. (CW: For Gen Y lovers of skinny jeans and the side part, this Buzzfeed article may be hard to see. We apologise in advance.) 

Despite being at the mercy of the platform’s younger (and, yes, larger) audience, Millennials are finding their feet on the astronomically popular video-sharing app

(If you were concerned, the older user base is getting their own back in the generation war. 🤣More on their comedy stylings below.)

So what does this all mean for your brand? 

It’s no secret that embracing TikTok marketing is becoming non-negotiable when it comes to reaching young people. TikTok is the most downloaded app worldwide, has over a billion active users, and for younger generations, it’s gaining ground as a go-to search engine

Plus, it’s now a significant part of younger consumers’ path to purchase, rearranging the traditional customer journey. In what’s become known as the “infinite loop,” TikTok allows consumers to discover, consider and buy a product or service, all in one place. 

So sure, you know that to engage Generation Z, you have to have your TikTok growth strategy up to scratch. But what about those on the other side of the generational divide? 

Well, there’s good news here too. 

Are Millennials using TikTok?

Gen Zers hold the title of the “digitally native generation,” having grown up screen-weaned. That makes them on top of the trends — more current than current. But Millennials are certainly not far behind

In fact, all the numbers are pointing to the app “outgrowing its Gen Z stereotype” — and that new wave is starting with Millennials.

First up, this generation is curious and engaged. 45% of Millennial TikTok users follow the latest technology trends and news, and 42% like to be the first to try new things.

In fact, recent research has shown that in areas such as in-app fintech adoption, Millennials may even be outpacing their younger counterparts. Basically, the taste for new technology is alive and well in a generation that is now reaching middle age.

Added to this, rather than being passed down, technological trends tend to be passed up. While the younger generation may be the first to adopt, their enthusiasm is contagious. (Boomers, watch out!)

When we look at the distribution of TikTok users by age, the Millenial categories are certainly gaining ground.

Distribution of TikTok users worldwide by age & gender

Source: Statista

For more on this, check out our article on how the demographics of TikTok users are distributed.

And it goes further.

Many of the ways Millennials use platforms like TikTok are quite similar to how younger users engage. (Don’t tell the Gen Zers. They’d be horrified.)

Millennials on TikTok: the statistics

The first thing to know about ‘the Millennial consumer’ is that there are a lot of them about 1.8 billion, in fact. They have significant spending power — and 91% of them choose to use it online rather than shopping in-store.

Some other important facts about Millennial customers

They prefer their branded content short, one-third of them make a purchase after seeing a social media ad, and 47% use social media to find out about new trends. 

Plus, 64% of them admit to making impulse purchases.

So what does this mean for TikTok usage, specifically?

What we know from the platform itself is that:

24% of Millennial users follow a brand on TikTok. (While that doesn’t measure up to the 60% of Gen Z TikTok users that do, it’s certainly not insignificant.) 13% also participate in branded hashtag challenges.

We also know that the kind of branded content they’re after should, first and foremost, be entertaining

This generation is drawn to the video-first platform because it provides them with the same delight, interactive engagement and informative content that compels younger users. 

Other important facts?

They’ve been finding their way to TikTok from other social media platforms

Fanbytes by Brainlabs Head of Creative Strategy, Tom Sweeney refers to TikTok as the “front page of the internet.” This is where trends start before they head off into other spheres of the social media universe. 

And that’s perhaps what made this tweet by comedian Gareth Waugh hit a real nerve:

Tweet by Gareth Waugh

(Incidentally, Mr Waugh very much has a TikTok account — @garethwaughcomedy.)

This cross-pollinating has also laid down the breadcrumbs for Millennial users of other social media sites to discover TikTok. And they’re finding that once they arrive at the site, it’s the ideal place for easy content creation. 83% of users have created a video themselves. This is not simply about consumption — it’s a two-way street.

But while Millennials can be compared to the average TikTok user (a Gen Zer), this generation certainly comes with its own unique set of cultural references (hello 90s playlists!)) and concerns. Between parenting, career-building, and finance balancing — this generation is, ahem, adulting.


So now for the question of the day —

How can your brand reach Millennials on the TikTok platform?

Want to win over Gen Y on TikTok? Here’s your checklist:

1. Cross-pollinate - with caution

Sharing TikTok videos on your Instagram Stories and Reels, for example, is an excellent way to call attention to your existence on the TikTok platform. Automation products, such as, now offer easy reposting of your TikTok video content to other platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn

Be mindful, however, that the similarities between Instagram Reels and TikTok videos do not necessarily mean you should always share the same content across both. Cross pollinate to encourage interest in your TikTok, but always make sure you’re also sharing plenty of optimised video (and other) social media content for whatever platform you’re on.

2. Find the right influencers

TikTok Influencer marketing is all about finding the creators who already have your audience’s attention. (If you need help finding your perfect match, get in touch. It’s what we do.) So — and yes, this is a bit Marketing 101, but it really needs to be stated here — find the right places to promote your brand. And that means uncovering what Millennials are talking about on TikTok. (More on this below).

3. Consider going micro

It’s not about finding the influencers with the most followers — it’s about finding the influencers that fit your brand. A TikTok micro-influencer (someone that has between 50k and 100k followers) has a unique pull. They’re cheaper, willing to try new products and services, and a great fit for small businesses.

4. Don't skimp on entertainment value

The Number One reason users of all ages come to TikTok is to be entertained. Down the list are things like finding new ideas and inspiration and keeping up with the latest trends — but it’s all-important to tick that top box. And what are they getting entertained by? 

The top short-form video categories that Millennial TikTok users watch include:

  • Music (63%)
  • Comedy (58%)
  • Film / TV (55%)
  • Sports (53%)

Consider where you fit here. 

Much to the chagrin of Gen Z users, Millennials are hilarious and creative. You don’t have to look further than #millennials to see the kinds of shenanigans these ‘80s and ‘90s babies are serving up. 

Case in point is popular TikTok creator Erin Miller (@overthemoonfaraway), whose hilarious videos have garnered her almost 2 million followers. Billing herself as a 90s & 00s historian, she takes you through everything from how makeup styles have changed over the years to high school nostalgia. 

5. Give them the information they need

40% of Millennial TikTok users say that the brand helps them discover new things. That goes for products and services and general information. (If you can put the two together, even better!)

(Interestingly, while the roasts are real, Gen Z has also stepped up to inform their Millenial family, as much as to mock them. This video about how to up the aesthetic value of your Instagram stories from Nicole (@channingstatum) is a case in point.)

So what sort of content are they after?

What are Millennials talking about on TikTok?

Short answer: everything.

But if you’re looking for some key differentiators from Millennial TikTokers and their Gen Z counterparts, here are some important playing fields:


1. Getting inspiration on all things adulthood

Yep, Millennials are at the point in life where they’re settling into homes, having families and gasp starting to think that they may one day retire.

So John Liang (@johnsfinancetips), for example, has over 2 million followers for giving sound financial advice in easy-to-digest chunks. 

TikTok’s short video format also makes it the ideal platform for home improvement content. 

How do we know? We partnered with media agency MediaCom to engage an older TikTok audience

The goal of the campaign was to drive awareness of the long-awaited return of the home renovation program, Changing Rooms, to Channel 4 — amongst TikTok users aged 25 and over. DuluxSimply Refresh range sponsored the collaboration, and by working with and Millennial TikTok influencers of all types, we created an engaging campaign: Influencers showed off the new paint range on their walls, and their followers were prompted to say which colours they preferred. And so a back-and-forth began, both driving awareness and boosting engagement. 

It worked. The campaign exceeded targets by 827% — illustrating that there is most certainly space for the slightly older crowd on TikTok – and that they want to be there.

2. Navigating parenthood

60% of Millennials on TikTok are parents — of course, a vital statistic for marketers. They’re the people making the purchasing decisions in their households and the ones in search of solutions to make everyday life a little easier. They’re also looking for a community to both commiserate and giggle with.

From humorous parenting hacks to advice about #positiveparenting, there’s no limit to the scope of this corner of the platform. 

There’s Mrs Mommy Mel (@mrsmommymel) — “GirlTalk with your millennial wife | mom | homie.” Her content ranges from travel tips to baby name lists to discussing things she bought on TikTok.

And then there’s the popular Tori Phantom (@toriphantom), who discusses parenting, mental health and food through a nonbinary lens.

Not to forget the hilarious Gwenna (@mommacusses) — “The Parenting Unexpert.”

So yes, the spectrum of potential influencers is wide.

3. Figuring out the workplace

If you’re into corporate TikTok (i.e. a world where humour and community help you navigate the challenges of working life), you may have already come across the eve-popular Rod (@rod). His highly relatable content deals with work life and mental health — with some fun nostalgia from the turn of the millennium. (He also loves to take the odd friendly dig at the Gen Z crowd if you’re keen to get in on the fray. 😉)

Some other fun Millennial content that deals with the workplace? Elly, the Corporate Millennial (@1corporatemillennial), Laura (@loewhaley) and Carly (@callmebyyourcarl).

And how about this branded content from activewear company Fox & Robin (@foxandrobin) about what it’s like to be on the receiving end of Gen Z emails?

4. For in-app shopping

We’ll close the loop here by talking about — well — closing the loop. Along with their younger compatriots, Millennials are turning to TikTok to do their shopping. 

And as we’ve discussed, this is a world where you can become aware of a product, get informed about it, purchase it and review it in one “infinite loop.”

Pioneering a new way to shop, TikTok social commerce is a world Millennials are happier and happier to be a part of. In fact, 79% of consumers believe it will soon take business away from Amazon. And a recent study from Deloitte showed that both Gen Zers and Millennials are turning to the platform for their holiday shopping.

Older & TikTok wiser

TikTok as a social media platform is maturing, and while it remains as popular as ever amongst Gen Z, it’s clear that more and more users from older generations are joining the app, too.

This can only be a good thing for brands on TikTok, who are fine-tuning their TikTok marketing and will be able to use this to reach an ever-larger, yet still highly engaged audience.

Feel it’s time to match up with the Millennials of TikTok? As we said, we’re here to help. Let’s talk.

Need a little more inspo? Take a look at these articles for more information on Instagram, TikTok and beyond. 

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