To be sure, the Millennials have arrived with great fanfare and the keen attention of marketers. And why not! According to Pew Research Center and U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2015, residents who are in the 18-34 age cohort number around 75 million, overtaking the Baby Boomers as the largest American generation yet, with dramatic collective buying power.
Not surprisingly, a Google search on “Marketing to Millennials” yields a plethora of “tips” and “guidelines” on understanding what drives this emergent generation and how to convert them to brand adopters.
Social media, blogs, websites, smart phones with generation-focused content are recommended as the media that will reach and ultimately deliver the Millennials target.
Just talk their jargon, target them via the right channels and they’ll beat a path to your brand!
The mistake is to think that since Millennials are clearly unique compared to other generations that they are homogeneous in mindset and behavior.
We are in good company. In a recent perusal of articles and thinking about all of this, I came across a timely perspective by Timothy Morey and Allison Schoop: Stop Designing for Millennials (HBR, June 10, 2015). Quoting from their article:
“While this line of thinking is seductive, we think it is misguided. Millennials, like all generational cohorts, have as much that divides as unites. Treating them as a homogeneous entity is likely to fail – or worse – backfire.”
RTi’s segmentation research initiatives continue to demonstrate that brand strategy based solely on Life Stage and Demos is no longer a relevant or reliable basis for insight or a platform for growth.
The reality is that people within the same life stage group, especially large cohort groups like Millennials, will have divergent needs, attitudes, desires, emotions and behaviors that cluster into underlying segments. These underlying segments are where the growth opportunities await marketing initiatives. Marketing to Millennials as a whole ignores this reality and has marginal chance for success.
A recent strategic research/segmentation initiative conducted for an RTi consumer packaged goods client clearly showed that Millennials fell into “segments” (see chart), confirming that they do not think, feel or make brand choices as a monolithic group.
Attempting to target Millennials “en mass” would miss the underlying differentiated opportunities.
So if your organization is considering strategic or tactical research initiatives among Millennials, we invite you to have a chat with RTi before you proceed.