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Don’t fall into the “millennial” trap

By Will Morris, Managing Partner at Alchemy Digital

“We’re targeting millennials with our mobile-ready, design-heavy, super retro widget that does everything in the blink of an eye!” – If this sounds like you, please take a step back.

The whole attitude towards aiming a product or service at a group of individuals is misguided; ‘millennials’ are simply a badly designed group. Because in reality, today’s young people are not that unique when you consider the groups of young people from previous generations. They’re just young!

Some characteristics are undeniably true: for example, today’s young people have less money than older people did at the same age. They are also getting married later, having children at an older age (or don’t), and are also known in some circles as ‘Generation Rent’ due to the challenge of buying a home post the 2008 financial crash, unless they inherit.

They are also much more tech savvy than before and have high expectations from the brands they interact with, but as a rule, the millennials are simply far too large to be a real group. For one, how can someone born in 1980 (36-37) can have anything in common with someone born in 2000 (16-17)? Age aside, when people are young, they’re striving to find themselves, identify with subcultures, develop their own interests and habits etc. Believe it or not, not all millennials check social media every waking minute, or love your brand just because it’s buzzy right now!

Young people are also typically early adopters of new technology, but this is not exclusive to this generation whatsoever –  again, it’s just being young. They lose interest when the older generations latch onto what they did earlier in the adopter model. Today’s teens are supposedly leaving Facebook, arguably because it’s not ‘theirs’ any more, with their Generation X parents now largely signed up. Once the late, older majority join in (or laggards), the early adopters move on to something else. On the other hand, we have this mind-blowing reversal of old tech becoming ‘cool’ – I never thought I’d see the day when CDs were considered old hat.

Believe it or not, not all millennials check social media every waking minute

Surely now we’re seeing (in some instances at least) that people just simply buy what suits them, and not what’s marketed to them?

More than anything, this proves to show that marketing to lazily created, pre-determined, generalised customer segments mean that instead of understanding and responding your customers’ nuances, you’re dooming your marketing strategy to failure. Today’s young person is also more likely to buy deals/thrift/prefer sustainable solutions, do their background research before buying, and expect much more from the customer experience. They are driving their own experiences and tailoring their individual journeys with brands and products, and they deserved to be treated as such. The analyst, Forrester, makes a good argument for scrapping this trend for targeting millennials and instead group consumers by how they respond to new technology and products – which can include anyone of any generation.

Websites are a key example. ALL websites must be responsive in their design no matter what device is being used. That it displays correctly on a Galaxy Edge or iPhone 7 isn’t just modernising, it’s simply a necessity – it doesn’t mean it’s specifically targeting millennials. Smartphone ownership in the UK is growing among the over-55s and is now at 42%, having risen 10% year-on-year between 2015 and 2016 – compare this to 90% of 18-24 year-olds, which has stayed very steady in recent times. Easily consumable information in easily digestible, convenient formats compatible with a range of devices – well, that’s just expected.

Ultimately, if you have a product suitable for any person that’s clearly communicated and easy to use, you don’t need to just target millennials; you need to target those for whom it is most useful. Get your brand off the bandwagon and make it work for the right people.

If you’d like a chat about how Alchemy Digital can ensure your website is tailored to your audiences, no matter how diverse or nuanced, give us a call now.