5 Reasons to STOP Marketing to Millennials

May 09, 2016 by admin in Strategy


Ethology’s Senior Content Strategist Dustin Diehl presented “Five Reasons to Stop Marketing to Millennials” at the Los Angeles Digital Retail and Fashion Masterclass on April 26. Brands in attendance included Jimmy Choo, Charming Charlie, Stance, O’Neill, Guess, BCBGMAXAZRIA, Halston and more. Dustin’s assertion that brands and marketers are incorrectly targeting millennial audiences captivated the corporate-level marketing attendees from several high-end and luxury fashion labels.


So, what are five misconceptions about marketing to millennials, and how can you adjust your tactics accordingly?


1. “Millennial” is a demographic, not a customer.

Members of the millennial generation aren’t all the same, just as members of the Gen X and baby boomer generations aren’t all the same. One inclusive age range does not equate to one shared generational personality or even congruent value sets from person to person. Think back to when you were 21 years old. How did your concerns and values compare then to those of your 28-, 30- or even 35-year-old self? I’ll bet they’re radically different … unrecognizable, even.


2. No one agrees on what a “millennial” actually is.

Statistics from various demographic research sites define the millennial generation as the segment of the population born during the years 1980 to 1995, 1981 to 2000, 1982 to 2004, etc. Without strict boundaries of birth years, it’s impossible to completely categorize and recognize everyone who might be a true millennial.


3. Marketing to “millennials” is lazy.

You’re spending more resources on more marketing campaigns that will target more people, but are they the right people to begin with? Rather than throwing your resources at the wall to see what sticks, narrow your focus from broad-stroke “millennial” to a specific age group, gender, income, etc. Know your audience and understand that one generation does not equal one personality.


4. The “millennial” label doesn’t allow for empathy.

Hearing the word “millennial” instantly conjures up an image of a young person who is entitled, narcissistic and glued to their phone. We’ve heard it all before, and many times over. While these descriptors may apply to a select few, most millennials resent this stereotype because it simply isn’t true. As a generation of innovators, visionaries and independent thinkers, millennials wish to be recognized as more conscious and individual than currently perceived.


5. Not all “millennials” are created equal.

Age. Income. Lifestyle. Location. Spending habits. Consumer values. Relationship status. These variables come together in approximately 80 million different ways to create the force that is “The Millennials.” With such a variety of personas, this provides brands with countless opportunities to target a niche market.


By lumping a diverse group of consumers under one umbrella, you actively avoid examining the personality quirks and lifestyle variations that comprise the population. A 32-year-old married mother of three, like the “Millennial Mom,” won’t respond to the same advertisements and marketing tactics as a 24-year-old single male graduate student, like the “Brogrammer.” Yet both of these personas are technically millennials. Know your audience.


What are the next steps to properly market to millennials?

Create personas. Understand your target audience — who they are, what they think and feel, how they live, etc. Explore your customer’s journey with a journey map. How are they influenced by each touchpoint they have with your brand? Speak with them. Conduct interviews and surveys to get a more in-depth understanding of their perspectives. Finally, test the user experience.


Insights and content strategy points made in this piece by Ethologist, Dustin Diehl


“Professionally, I get inspired by the smart people I work with. It’s great to be challenged and encouraged by such a great group of fellow co workers. It’s also amazing seeing our clients meet their goals and, ultimately, help their customers achieve success.
In my role as Senior Content Strategist, I help my clients marry their brand goals with the needs of their customers. Together, they form the basis for brand content creation, messaging, auditing, editorial planning and more. “


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