The M Word

Yes, this is ironic considering the title of the blog, but I hate this word. Or rather, I hate what this term has become in advertising.

Millennials this. Millennials that.

Browse the internet, and you’ll find a million articles on how to reach millennials, how we have the most buying power of any generation in history, how we’re constantly on our phones, etc. It just goes on and on and on.

Brands have this mindset that if they can be “cool” or “connect with millennials” it will be the key to their success, but there’s a fundamental problem with this belief. It treats millennials like we are all the same. If you look past the dollar signs in your eyes, you’ll find that the “millennial experience” is different for every person.

We are the most diverse and heterogeneous generation in history. 43% of millennials are not white. We are the most tolerant and socially aware group alive right now according to Pew Social Research. We are also most likely to use social media a lot and be most connected to our phones.

There’s even a large inter-generational age gap that affects how we view the world.  Those born in 1980 grew up in a time before the internet, cellphones and MP3’s whereas those who were born in 1996 will never know an unconnected world.

Because of that diversity and because of that connectedness, you can’t just say “we’re going to target millennials” because that’s a lazy strategy that just won’t work.

Instead, advertisers need to spend more time finding behavioral and psychographic information to target subsets of millennials. Instead of saying, “we’re going to target millennials,” let’s say “we’re going to target millennials who go to live music events once a month and have traveled outside the country in the last year.”

More than ever, we as advertisers have to be extremely precise about what kind of person we are going to target inside the age range of millennials because if we aren’t careful, we will end up firing a shotgun from 200 yards away rather than a rifle.

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