Millennials are complicated (and so is marketing to them)

Posted by: blogadmin on Oct 4, 2014

I recently read an article that discussed marketing to millennials. The message that the research presented was, simply put, that “millennials” are not as easy to categorically define as marketers would like.

To this, I respond, “Duh.”


It is ridiculous to try to define an entire generation by a few set characteristics. This is especially true when an actual fact about this particular generation is that they grew up using technology. Every day we deal with new and emerging technologies that are complicated and different, even when they help make our lives easier. The complexity of this up-and-coming technology mirrors the complexity of the group of people who use them.


Ask an owner of a Galaxy S5 to use an iPhone 6, and they will point out plenty of differences between the two platforms. Both are smart phones, but the platforms are made for different people who are looking for different things in a mobile device.


Now ask a marketer to pitch an idea to sell to a millennial. They can use stereotypical characteristics such as entitled, lazy, environmentally-friendly, and technically-savvy to craft a pitch, but at the end of the day that’s not going to be enough to send a coherent and convincing message.


Stereotypes might work for a general picture, but it does not work for a targeted marketing campaign. Millennials are all the same in that they were born within a certain time-frame, but like the Galaxy S5 and iPhone 6, they are part of very different stories. The message you want to send to a 24 year old working at a startup and living with his parents should be vastly different than the message you send to a new mother who just bought her first home.


Any marketer worth their salt will tell you that you need to know your audience in order to be effective. It’s about time that we acknowledge that “millennials” is not a target audience. An entire generation is too broad, too vague, and too complicated. If you identify your audience by specific characteristics (not just when they were born), then you are much more likely to send a message that they actually care about and will respond to.


What do you think about marketing to millennials? Let us know @HoooleyCorp.


Photo credit to Susanne Nilsson 
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