Millennial Minds

7 Ways to Attract and Keep This Generational Clientele

By Lynn Parentini

Millennials are the most powerful generation on the planet today, a legion of health-conscious philosophers on an endless quest to achieve a daily wellness high. The massage experience can provide the perfect holistic stress antidote for these digital Zen masters, and those who reach a welcoming hand across generational lines can reap the rewards of that effort for decades to come.
The millennial generation, comprised of adults 18–38 years old, both fascinates and confounds those who aren’t a part of it. Every generation has its quirks and special qualities, but millennials are a breed unlike any we’ve seen before. They’re tech-savvy dreamers who are surprisingly practical, with their heads in the Cloud but their feet planted firmly on the ground. They also have smaller salaries but bigger hearts than their predecessors, with a whopping 84 percent donating money, time, or items to charity, according to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report.1 They mostly shy away from big brands (unless an item is emblazoned with an apple, of course) and are more likely to lend their purchasing power and their enthusiastic support to businesses that are as hip, modern, and civic-minded as they are.
The Brookings Institute projects that by 2020, one in three adults will be millennials2; that means attracting and keeping millennial customers is not optional—it’s a must. This new crop of patrons will help nullify the effects of natural attrition as other customers relocate, alter their health routines, or make other changes that can leave unwanted blank space in your appointment book. Establishing and maintaining this client base might seem daunting at first, but just like those real-time video chats with your kids and grandkids, once you learn the new system and get accustomed to a fresh way of communicating, the benefits can be rewarding and long lasting.

1 . Plug Into Their Lifestyle
What They Want
Millennials are the first generation to grow up in a digital environment. That means they don’t just appreciate using technology to plan and facilitate their activities, they expect it to be a large part of the process.

How to Give it to Them
Your massage business should have a state-of-the-art website that’s both attractive and easy to navigate, with services and prices clearly visible. It should also include both photos and short video clips of the treatments offered—a must for millennial customers, who not only love multimedia but also expect to see exactly what goods and services they’re buying in advance. Make it easy for clients to request more information and schedule appointments online as well, and consider installing a public charging station in your waiting room for phones and tablets. A high-definition TV showing videos of various massage treatments works great in that area as well. Also consider replacing any outdated paper-based cash registers with modern point-of-purchase devices that allow customers to sign a screen with a stylus or even their finger. By speaking to millennials in their electronic language, you’ll prove that you’re enthusiastic about keeping the conversation alive.      

2. Show Your Heart
What They Want
Millennials are caring and giving, and view themselves as citizens of the world. They’re also willing to spend more money on goods and services that are environmentally friendly or support a social cause.

How to Give it to Them
Comfortable treatment rooms and well-trained massage therapists are wonderful, but show your millennial clients that you care what happens outside the walls of your business as well. Post information about the causes you support on your website, and include links so your customers can contribute too. Consider taking part in—or even hosting—a local charity event, and utilize social media to help spread the news and highlight the event’s successes. Show support for annual causes (Breast Cancer Awareness Month, World AIDS Day, etc.) by donating a portion of your profits to them during that time period, and set up donation jars at your payment counter to encourage your customers to do the same. Proudly advertising that your business uses products that are eco-friendly and aren’t tested on animals is another way to woo this charitable group.   

3. Create a Memorable Experience
What They Want
Millennials have big imaginations but small budgets, which is why virtual reality, first-person video games, and other pretend forms of adventure are so attractive to them. They would love to travel the world and explore exotic cultures, but such luxuries are normally out of their financial reach.

How to Give it To Them
A trip to the Orient might be out of the question, but you can recreate the experience with a Chinese jade hot stone massage. Or if your clients have Morocco on their minds, offer an Argan oil massage instead. What about a cedar massage, which utilizes ingredients and traditions of Native American tribes such as the Ojibwa? Because millennials love to learn, exotic options like these become even more attractive if your literature includes a detailed description not only of the treatment but of the history behind it. You can also enhance the experience with themed music, incense, or scented candles, and a nice cup of tea, coffee, or another beverage indicative of the culture you’re recreating at the time.    

4. Put the Spotlight on Wellness
What They Want
A recent study by the Halo Group found that millennials are the most health-conscious generation in history.3 They enjoy exercising, avoid smoking, and 8 out of 10 believe a healthy diet is important.

How to Give it to Them
Some people view massage as a luxury or a guilty pleasure they can reward themselves with from time to time. Millennials are more likely to recognize the health benefits of massage, especially since so many of them are stuck at desks in front of computers all day. Make sure your website gives clear and detailed information about which forms of massage are best for particular ailments and conditions, along with photos and video clips demonstrating those procedures. And since wellness is an ongoing interest for millennials instead of an on-again, off-again fad, help them keep their commitment by offering a massage series at a special rate. That offer becomes even more attractive when you offer massages with flexible time spans and price points to fit each individual’s particular needs.   

5. Focus on Quick Results
What They Want
Millennials are used to getting results with one click of a mouse or one touch on a phone screen. While they do see the long-term benefits of massage therapy, sometimes they just want a quick fix for a particular problem.

How to Give it to Them
In addition to standard one-hour and 90-minute massage sessions, offer an array of mini-massages that target single body parts and solve specific health issues. Athletes can be enticed with quick sports massage designed to either improve performance before an event or relieve pain and soreness afterward. Offer short, inexpensive foot massage for those who spend all day on their feet, or a scalp massage for those nagged by headaches. A facial massage can attract those who want to look their best for a big social event, and a hand massage can provide blessed relief for someone who’s spent all day pounding away at their keyboard.

6. Tap Into the Social Network
What They Want
Millennials are social creatures who seem to share every detail of their daily lives, mostly through the internet. They also rely on digital word-of-mouth advice to guide them in their decision-making.
How to Give it to Them
Not only are millennials experts at electronic browsing and comparison shopping, they also expect complete transparency. Encourage your customers to post reviews of your massage business on sites like Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor, because those ratings will mean more to millennials than any ad you place. Next, build a Facebook page and keep it filled with fresh content and photos, because nothing drives away business like a page that hasn’t been updated in months. Twitter is a great way to broadcast short announcements about new services and special events, and photo-savvy users can gain customers by taking advantage of Instagram’s marketing possibilities.
Also, remember that your clients might turn out to be your best advertisement. Millennials are the selfie generation, and they love to take and share photos of themselves doing interesting things in interesting places. Set up a stylish and branded photo background in your waiting room or one of your treatment rooms, then announce a monthly prize drawing for those who shared their photos online.          

7. Invite Them to the Party
What They Want
Millennials are somewhat wary of companies with traditional (a.k.a. “old school”) business models, and tend to feel uncomfortable doing business out of their digital element. When they do engage in face-to-face communication, they want to feel like part of the group instead of a fifth wheel.

How to Give it to Them
The downside of growing up with digital communication is that many millennials lack real-life social skills and seem standoffish to those outside their subculture. However, a poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group showed that more than half of millennials consider one of their parents to be their best friend, and this knowledge-thirsty generation also seeks out and appreciates relationships with anyone who can act as a mentor or advisor.4 Incorporating familiar technology and social practices into your massage business’s daily routine will help millennials feel like they belong, and most will be truly interested in learning how massage can improve their overall health if the information comes to them in a friendly, casual format. Consider an after-hours open house with drinks, snacks, and free mini-massages as a way to show your acceptance of this burgeoning client base. Once your millennial customers discover that you speak their language, they’ll be hitting the “Like” button in no time.

Bridging the Gap
The bridge between the digital and analog worlds still has plenty of gaps in it, which may be why so many millennials are hesitant to cross it. Every generation has its own distinct tastes in music, movies, fashion, etc., but those differences go far deeper when it comes to millennials; they don’t just act differently, they live differently. Millennials grew up with the power to plan, organize, and facilitate their daily activities with one touch of a button. They never had to stop and wonder about anything, because Google held all the answers. They were raised with the viewpoint that recycling, conservation, and other green action plans were necessities, not choices.
For many years, millennials felt like outsiders in the world their parents and grandparents designed. These days, however, successful millennials such as Mark Zuckerberg, Taylor Swift, Jessica Alba, and Pete Cashmore have proven that members of this generation are gaining as much influence and credibility as their Generation X and baby boomer forebears, in addition to staggering amounts of wealth. The bottom line for service providers? Millennials want to be taken seriously and catered to the way previous generations were.

Quick quiz
Think you’re ready to attract a fresh crop of millennial customers? Take this short quiz to find out!
1. Millennials would rather schedule an appointment through a website than over the phone. True or false?
2. Millennials care more about eating, drinking, and having fun than they do about their health. True or false?
3. Millennials are open to advice, guidance, and mentorship from members of past generations. True or false?
4. Millennials tend to be nationalistic, with little interest in other countries or cultures. True or false?
5. Millennials often read online reviews of a business when comparison shopping for goods and services. True or false?

Answers: 1. T, 2. F, 3. T, 4. F, 5. T

1. Derrick Feldmann et al., The Millennial Impact Project, “2015 Millennial Impact Report,” 2015,
2. Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, Governance Studies at Brookings, “How Millennials Could Upend Wall Street and Corporate America,”  May 2014,
3. The Halo Group, “How Can Your Brand Resonate With Millennial Foodies?,” accessed November 2017,
4. Benenson Strategy Group, “January 2015 Survey of Millennials,” 2015,

Lynn Parentini, LMT, CPT, LE, LC, is an author, speaker, and creative strategist specializing in concept development for the wellness, skin, and spa industry. She is the author of The Joy of Healthy Skin (Simon & Schuster, Prentice Hall, 1995) and Stone Journey (Esthetic Alternatives, 2000), and a member of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and a certified facilitator volunteer for the American Cancer Society’s  “Look Good Feel Better” program. Reach her at