You Wont Stop Hearing About Millennials Anytime Soon and for Good Reason
Millennials, a much maligned term that inspires cringes from some and excitement from others. Definitely the most talked about generation in marketing and dare I say in general. Many people are sick of hearing about us millennials. In recent weeks I have read multiple articles criticising the marketing discussion about this generation. Why? Because it would appear that many marketers are treating millennials as a single segment and the consensus of these articles is that it is silly to do so. My response to that is YES! It is bloody stupid for most businesses to treat any generation like a segment. I’m not on board with anyone that subscribes to this whole generation being the end of the line with their market segmentation.
So why do brands like us contribute so heavily to the noise of millennial mania? It’s because we are a tough nut to crack before you even get to segmentation and one that marketers have been fumbling with for years. So tough in fact that some brands have given up altogether! There is such a big barrier to entry in the ’macro’ with millennials and so many foundational lessons to be learned that they deserve heavy consideration before exploring the ‘micro’. You shouldn’t be diving into the deep blue sea before learning the fundamentals in the swimming pool (or if you prefer a dating analogy for millennials, check our post here).
What makes millennials different to generations before us is part evolution, part revolution. Baby boomers were born into the golden era of advertising where a commercial interrupted your show and told you “our product is great, consume our product” and people listened. Many boomers will even attest to the advertising interruption being a welcome part of the tv experience. This, like many cultural imbalances of the ‘mad men’ advertising era was bound to change… and change it did. Millennials are a product of evolution. When marketers got louder and started competing for consumer attention, our impressionable boomer parents were impressionable no more. So on evolution alone we as a generation already present a frightening prospect to marketers; inherent immunity to advertising. This alone warrants a lot of discussion among marketers of the generation as a whole but there is a whole lot more at play.
Millennials are the first generation born into the internet revolution and the internet changed everything! One only needs to look at Amazon’s destruction of traditional retail to see that the internet is by and large, the state of commerce. Data by Sensis will tell you that we have been the number one consumers of the internet and social media for years. This systemic shift has had huge implications in our consumer behaviour on a macro generational level that businesses can ignore at their own risk. Being the early digital adopters we also tend to act as a crystal ball, defining consumer and marketing trends.
At the end of the day there is a lot that is silly about focusing on a generation as a business or marketer, but there is a lot that is not. Once you are done deciphering the generational stuff however, there is real work to be done under the hood with segmentation.