Every day, it seems that someone else has something new to say (good or bad) about Millennials. If they’re not ruining the American Dream of homeownership, then they’re killing off all the chain restaurants. OR, Millennials are praised for their resourcefulness and their passion for solving social issues.
Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t deny that everyone is obsessed with Millennials.
As one of True Voice Media’s resident Millennials, I’m often asked for my coveted Millennial perspective. We also spend a lot of time talking about the actual word “Millennial” and both the positive and negative connotations that it has taken on over the past few years.
Time and time again, our clients tell us that they want to target Millennials. But after extensive research and testing, more often than not, it turns out that Millennials are not the target audience.
So why is everyone so obsessed with Millennials? Well for starters, there’s no denying their size and potential buying power. Of course, marketers want to get a chunk of that. Just do a simple Google search of “how to target Millennials” and you’ll get over 14 million results. Everyone (except Millennials) are giving advice on where to reach them, how to talk to them, what they like, what they don’t like, etc.
The harsh truth, though, is that Millennials really just want this obsession with them to be over. Therefore, I’m going to tell you why you why should not target Millennials [pause for gasp].
Here are 3 Reasons Why Targeting Millennials is a Mistake:
1. Millennials Are Just People
That’s right. Millennials are not this mystical or untouchable demographic. They are just people.
Like all people, millennials have their own views, opinions, and perspectives on the world. Therefore, they have their own individual wants and needs. A 27-year-old Asian girl from New York with an affluent background probably doesn’t have the same wants and needs as a 22-year-old Hispanic girl from California who lives paycheck to paycheck.
It’s true that millennials as a whole are choosing lifestyles and have spending habits that are different than their preceding generations. They’re more conscientious of environmental and sustainability issues. And they’ve completely disrupted the workplace by demanding more from employers and their careers.
Despite all these commonalities among Millennials, they still cannot be lumped together in one big robotic category. To make astounding assumptions that all millennials are liberal or like avocado toast is just preposterous. The best way to reach Millennials is to treat them like the individual people that they are and connect with them on a human level.
2. You Don’t Know How Or If Your Product/Service Will Help Millennials
Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation in history, and they will soon be in their prime spending years. From a marketing perspective, this piece of information is both exciting and terrifying. It’s something that marketers should absolutely be keeping an eye on, but it’s not something that marketers should be obsessing over.
What marketers should be obsessing over is the value of what they are trying to sell. The first question that they should be asking is,
“What value will our product/service offer to millennials?”
Think hard before you say yes. Ask yourself, “how do we know it will provide value? Did we conduct research? Did we talk with millennials to hear their thoughts and suggestions?”
If you can’t answer even one of those questions, then you probably don’t know your audience well enough. Just because there is a huge opportunity to target Millennials doesn’t mean that you should. It also doesn’t mean that they will buy what you’re selling.
3. You Don’t Understand Social Media
Is your company on social media?
Obviously, yes. It’s 2017 after all.
But does your company know why it’s on social media? Is it strategically using social media to build awareness, generate leads, and convert customers? Is it leveraging comments, conversations, and reviews to make better changes for the customer? Is it making one-to-one connections with customers to advance a sale or provide customer service support?
If the answer is mostly no, then your company is seriously missing its mark when it comes to reaching Millennials.
Most Millennials have grown up alongside technology and the progression of social media. They spend, on average, 6 hours a week on social media alone. And a whopping 47% of them say that their purchase decisions are influenced by social media (as compared to 19% across all other age groups).
The numbers don’t lie. Social media can be a powerful tool when it comes to reaching Millennials, but only if leveraged correctly. So take the time to strategize how you will accomplish your business goals with social media, create useful content, listen to your audience, and actually engage with it.
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The bottom line is that targeting Millennials really isn’t all that different from targeting other generations. It all comes down to understanding your audience and product and having the right message and platform.
If you’d like to hear more expert advice on Millennials from a Millennial, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.