Keeping up with the millennials

Millennials, Gen Y, the internet generation; no matter how you refer to 18- to 30-year-olds, we’re all aware of the marketing jargon used to group them together.

WEB_millennials_Flickr_Elizabeth_Hahn

This smartphone wielding, dual screen watching crowd have been the focus for many industries – including ours – for a few years now, thanks in part to the reams of literature stating that they are at the forefront of the digital revolution.

But with so many advances in technology influencing consumer behaviour, should these terms be solely for those within an age bracket?

I personally don’t think so.

The general consensus of millennials is that those within this group are constantly consuming digital content in different ways; through new technology and new platforms such as Snapchat.

They are often seen as a barometer for a new app, digital platform or product’s success.

But with 50% of 55- to 64-year-olds joining the “smartphone revolution” according to Ofcom, it’s clear that ‘acting like a millennial’ has permeated into older generations. From Gen Z right through to the Baby Boomers, many of us now flit from Facebook to Twitter whilst watching the latest docuseries on Netflix.

It’s clear that being a millennial is no longer confined to a specific age range. Instead, we should be using the term as a catch-all phrase for all tech-savvy consumers.

Ensue the panic of “how do we target audiences if we can’t segment them?” It’s simple. The issue isn’t segmenting the audience itself, but rather how we’re segmenting them.

Instead of concentrating on an age bracket, marketers and the media alike should be communicating with audiences through the tech consumption habits and the digital spaces they already inhabit.

Creative ideas shouldn’t be based solely on the stereotypes of the platform or the technology being used to implement them, but rather on the audience itself. Goals, needs and interests cross age ranges and unite people regardless.

You can be passionate about healthy living – see the reams of gym selfies or healthy food recipes across social media – at the age 21, 41 or even 61. Although you’re at completely different stages in your lives, you’ll share a common set of goals and needs based on that interest – whether it’s the latest information on health trends or sport and cooking equipment.

The likelihood here is that based on this interest, you’re all likely to consume it from the same digital sources.

This is why brands should step away from the old method of “. By trying to communicate with an audience based on age, you’re actually alienating a huge proportion of an audience you may be unaware of, and in the process actually alienating those you’re targeting based on stereotypes of their age.

Just because a younger audience interacts with each other using emojis doesn’t mean they will suddenly pledge allegiance to your brand because you’re shouting at them in full colour winky faces.

So the next time you’re approached to interact with a millennial audience, remember they’re not all under 30!

By Paul Saville, joint-managing director at Wasserman