How Barnes & Noble appeals to millennial readers

When Barnes & Noble markets itself to millennials, it goes full BuzzFeed.

“What we’re focusing on is trying to engage the reader in different ways,” said Jeanniey Mullen, who leads marketing for Nook by Barnes & Noble, at the Digiday Retail Summit in Chicago this week. “And what we found with millennials is identifying the avid reader. We’re really interested in finding people who love to read.”

So to engage those people, the brand went with lists: It recently tested a program called “Give Me 5,” where it picked five books in one category, like “books about cats,” or “scary books” and distributed those lists online as pieces of content. “That worked really well,” said Mullen.

The challenge is not that millennials don’t want to read, they just do it differently. “Millennials prefer whatever suits them at whatever time they want to do it,” she said. “We see a significant number of millennials inside Barnes & Noble stores. We have a vinyl section. It’s amazing how many millennials love it. With Nook, they’ll read it, but they’re not the person responding to a standard banner ad.”

Mullen also said that marketing to millennials is not that different from marketing to anyone else — more or less. “There is generational marketing because you have to build a relationship with the generation you’re marketing to, but selling something to a Baby Boomer is no different than selling something to a millennial.”

Watch Mullen talk about generational marketing below.

Video edited by Tanya Dua; image courtesy of

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