Today "Millennials" are in every marketeer's mouth and briefs. After the Baby Boomers, the Generation X, Y, Z... "Millennials" are the next big thing. Ignore them and your Brand is doomed. Yet, this segmentation is flawed and dangerous. At Brand Reveal we show you why. And the way out.
But what are exactly "Millennials" ? Also known as the generation "Y", Millennials are the generation born between the mid 1980's to early 2000's. In other words, these are people between 15 to 35 years of age today. Wow. This is a huge age bracket. And this is where the "Millennial Rubbish" starts.
To pretend that such large age group can be described under a common set of demographics, attitudes and values is wrong because this age group comes at least with 4 life stages, each with their own characteristics. Take for instance :
- 15 to 18 years old are teen-agers, finishing school, discovering young adulthood, a transforming body, the need to assert oneself, make new discoveries...
- 18 to 25 years old are students years, starting to leave home, starting to make adult decisions, partying and travelling...
- 25 to 30 years old are the years of young professional, first job, starting to live with a partner, building the social position...
- 30 to 35 years old are the years where the first children are born, and with a change of perspective in life and values.
The above is by no means an extensive segmentation, and we did not even considered gender segmentation! But it shows that the 15 - 35 years old generation is extremely varied, with many expressions and needs that go far beyond the usual "connected-hipster-who-wants-to-make-an-immediate-impact-and-wants-it-all-with-no-commitment" we are served in every marketing forum.
To put the current 15 -35 years old generation in a common "Millennial" bag is appealing because we love shortcuts, but the Millennials expression should be BANNED from briefs : it is inaccurate and flawed. Instead, every marketeer who seriously puts consumers at the heart of his/her brand should spend time and care to describe its audience by demographics, attitudes, lifestyle, consumption behaviour, needs and motivations. Every brand marketeer should walk in the shoes of his / her target.
If you run this exercise, you will go far far beyond the current classic clichés and unlock insights that will allow your brand to echo in sync with its intended audience. Avoid this deep dive into your consumers hearts and mind and run the peril of producing ephemeral hipe, or worse, disconnected propositions which will cost you a lot.
In true fairness though, the Millennial conversation has triggered valuable learning on the impact of technologies and social media which are not put into question. I love my Facebook and I'm 50. So are Millennials that special ? However the case against target audience over simplification remains valid given the life stages variety.
So do yourself a favour : understand who exactly your brand wants to speak to and avoid over simplification. Next time any agency comes with a "Millennials" proposal, do challenge them. Your brand deserves a healthy discussion on its target audience.