Do you know which buzzword marketers use way too much? “Millennials”. “Millennials this”, “Millenials that”… The other day I even came across someone presenting himself as a “millennial speaker”. Good lord.
I think it’s time to debunk the myth: no, there is no such thing as a millennial – same as there is no generation. Generations are an artificial way to divide people, and the truth is that they have only been created for the sake of convenience. They’ve been made up, assuming that people of the same age will behave in a similar way. Is this always true and accurate though?
Obviously, it isn’t.
Comedian Adam Conover of popular online show “Adam ruins everything” studied millennials, and the whole generation myth. In his own words, generational thinking is not only wrong, it’s also condescending. Millennials are, in the mind of the media (less so for marketers – hopefully), entitled and narcissistic people aged under 30 who live with their parents. We could also add that they spend their time taking selfies, walk down the street glued to their smartphones, and Snapchat their way through the day before getting home and watching some Netflix.
Rubbish. These are just stereotypes, and stereotypes by definition do not truly reflect reality. They’re reductive. I am a so-called millennial and I hate the clichés that are assigned to me. We all do.
Wonders have been promised to businesses that manage to attract millennials… Rightly so. According to research by Advertising Age, people born between the 80’s and 00’s will be the biggest-spending generation in history, so it’s no surprise that marketers are battling for their attention (and wallet). But do you know how you can do that? Adam says millennials should be treated with a genuine respect, as intelligent people.
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We have seen it time and time again – brands start to use Emoji or GIFs in their feeds in the hope that they will attract younger audiences. In many cases, it ends up backfiring because young consumers are intelligent, brand-savvy and can’t be fooled that easily. We marketers should stay away from these cheap techniques. One of the answers to the challenges of doing business in the digital age, is maintaining an impeccable brand reputation.
You can’t set out to captivate Millennials, or any other target group. What you can do, is produce quality content that appeals to people’s curiosity and intelligence. Listen to your customers, be relevant, timely, and add value in any way, shape, or form that is appropriate to your audience. Support your strategy with quantitative data. Regularly converse with your customers on social, and offline, to garner qualitative insights – this will give you a well-rounded, complete idea of who your customers are and will give you some clues as to the type of content that will resonate with them.
In this day and age, it’s never been easier to understand who your audience is, and what resonates with them. So instead of targeting by age, focus on your target audience’s interests next time you set up a campaign. What do they usually engage with? Is your content similar to it?
Also remember that each audience is unique. While marketers should stay on top of their game by having daily look at marketing news, we should all take a step back and reflect on what we’re given. Many articles claim to give valuable insights into specific audiences or age groups, but next time you come across one, keep these in mind:
- The group used for the study is likely to be different than your own audience
- People’s age doesn’t always define their behaviour
For more on millennials, and how they don’t exist, check out Adam Conover’s superb talk, which largely inspired this article: