Marketing to younger generations like millennials just got a whole lot more important for companies in the outdoor hunting, shooting and recreation spaces.

According to new population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau, this group has just surpassed baby boomers as the nation's largest living generation.

There are huge opportunities for legacy companies and new players alike to tap into this audience, but it requires a different marketing approach. 

Be Where They Are—Online

It's more important than ever for companies to not only have a catered mobile website experience, but to also be active and purposeful about where and what they publish online.

In terms of audience size, Facebook is still king in a lot of ways but there are plenty of other social channels out there that have seen major growth in the last year among younger audiences, specifically Instagram and SnapChat.

Brands that understand how to cater an experience for their followers that is exclusive to each of those platforms are the ones that succeed. 

Genuine Storytelling

With a constant focus on being the best - the fastest, the sturdiest, the biggest, the smallest - a lot of companies are missing the key point of what attracts a millennial consumer to an outdoor brand.

It's authenticity and storytelling.

Brands that engage in storytelling that's real, relatable and genuine make themselves more appealing to millennial customers. A 2013 study from Boston Consulting Group found that among millennials, the top two most valued attributes of a brand with which they'd engage were loyalty rewards and brand authenticity.

The Element of Competition

Recreation is fine, but the element of competition can also be a powerful pitch for an outdoor company. While millennials enjoy casual outdoor experiences, they also enjoy activities that can be enjoyed in groups. In what ways can you gamify your products and services to introduce a competitive element?

Engaging in Conversation

More so than any generation before it, millennial outdoor consumers demand the attentions of the brands from which they buy.

Whether it's a prompt interaction on social media platforms such as Instagram or Twitter or a positive and personal customer service experience (a sense of humor in these situations certainly can't hurt with millennials, either), this generation demands direct brand engagement.

More than a quarter of all millennial outdoor consumers engage with brands on social media, significantly higher than all older generations and the general population.

Don't neglect your social presence, and keep things light and easy (and personalized) in email-based customer interactions. 

Environmental Consciousness

This one should come as no surprise, but millennial consumers on the whole prefer products that are deemed "green" or "environmentally friendly." Invest in products and services that take these concerns into consideration and then tell that story in your marketing.

A 2014 study found that more than half of millennials are willing to pay more for eco-friendly products, with nearly half taking a company's environmental practices and support of social causes into account when making buying decisions. 

Keep these millennial mentalities in mind as you establish your marketing targets. Millennials don't have to be an impossible dream - sales are on the horizon if you develop an authentic, relatable brand message.

Sources: BizReport, GfK, Outside Magazine, U.S. Census Bureau, Boston Consulting Group

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