Sigh, as they say in the online forums.
In marketing circles, real or virtual, you can’t move for people blathering on about millennials about the moment. And how to target millennials. And what millennials want to buy. And what millennials think. (And magazines are full of it, too.)
It’s like someone has just realised that every product and service in the world is only bought by this newly discovered group of people. If you’re not talking to (and about) millennials, you’re a loser, an idiot and clearly know NOTHING about marketing.
There are two problems with this.
One, all these people raving about millennials seem unclear as to who these god-like creatures actually are. What they’re not, is people born at the turn of the century as their name might suggest. Because they’re only 16.
The descriptor seems to refer to people who are young, but not too young, but love their technology and like engaging with all the digital stuff that 20 year old marketing executives think is important.
At least, I think that’s what they are. The people getting all over-excited about the importance of millennials clearly don’t have time to stop and write a clear definition that we mere mortals can fathom. Perhaps they are in their twenties? Or thirties? Or forties?
Two, nobody seems able to say WHY this group is so important in any objective way. They don’t spend nearly as much as older people, for example. They have less disposable cash. They’re quite hard to reach through advertising.
So why is everyone so obsessed with them? Take this page of slobbering drivel amongst the gazillions on the internet. I’ve pasted this here as it’s absolutely stereotypical of the mind-bendingly dim stuff that is written about millennials.
“Who is the Millennial consumer?
Millennial consumers overwhelmingly prefer access to goods over ownership of goods, delaying purchases of large ticket items like cars and homes—and fueling a new “sharing economy” in the process.
While Millennials are often portrayed as impatient, tech-obsessed and egocentric, their spending habits tell a more comprehensive story. The Millennial group is highly loyal to their chosen brands, valuing philanthropy, authenticity, and higher purpose in business practices—and paying little attention to advertising.
This group rewards brands that respect their independent decision-making skills. These values mean that a company that can capture a Millennial customer will be richly rewarded, and for a very long time. As Millennials begin to enter into their phase of purchasing power and consumer dominance, their loyalty is more important than ever.”
This is absolute tosh of the highest order. You’ll note that there is no evidence put forth for any of these assertions. Because there isn’t any.
Who writes this patronising, idiotic garbage? More worryingly, who believes it?
Take the first point: they’re not creating a sharing economy, whatever that is. They’re delaying buying because they can’t afford a mortgage. They’re not a religious movement, they’re skint.
Second point. There’s no evidence they’re any more loyal to a brand than any other group. Recent studies have shown that brand loyalty is, in any case, not nearly as important as people used to believe. It hardly exists in any meaningful way. Customers described as ‘loyal’ can still only be buying your stuff twice a year. And will buy other brands regularly and readily if their preferred brand is unavailable. (Which is why real marketeers know that distribution plus shelf position etc is often considerably more important than advertising.)
They apparently value authenticity (whatever that is!) and higher purpose in business practice. Do they? Again, where’s the evidence? Who are these paragons of nobility? Are they superhuman? So who are all these young people eating at McDonalds and Starbucks and happily supporting massive tax-evaders like Amazon? Who are these gangs of young Londoners drunkenly throwing bottles at the Man Utd team bus?
Can’t be the Millennials because they are all angels in human form.
“This group rewards brands that respect their independent decision-making skills.” What does this even MEAN? Nobody rewards brands. People buy stuff.
As for the second half, ask anyone in a survey whether they like/respond to advertising and marketing and they’ll say no. But, of course, the fact is they do, just like they always have; and any sensible marketing director has banks of evidence to prove that good old-fashioned advertising works as well as it ever has.
Finally, the idea that you capture a young buyer and he stays with you when he gets lots of money in later life has been disproven so many times it’s tragic that people are still rolling it out under the Millennials banner as if it’s something new.
As the majority of people working in advertising or marketing today would probably consider themselves to be millennials (ie under 45 perhaps?), I have a horrible suspicion that what we’re really seeing here is their own idealised portrait of who they think they are (or would like to be)…
A group of smiling, white-teethed twenty-somethings that work in a children’s hospital, drive a vintage VW camper and have somehow, magically, stepped out of a FatFace ad to become living, breathing flesh and blood.