Millennial Obsessed? Here is What You Need to Know


String Millennial mania with other Digibabble and you get requests like the following:

We need to create viral immersive mobile experiences in a digital-first environment in order to reach the powerful, elusive, unreachable Millennials who are just so different from any other generation…anything we have ever seen.

In the last week alone here is a sample of just some of the fixation:

“10 Things You Need to Know About Marketing to Millennials” — Forbes, 8/2/17

“The marketing that millennials want to see from brands” — The Drum, 8/9/17

“Billboard Is Targeting Millennials With Music Documentary Series for Snapchat Discover” — Fortune, 8/5/17

“Why millennials are the next tourism frontier” — BBC, 8/11/17

This is pure essence “Digitaling,” not Marketing, and frankly if you are in this camp, your future success is bleak.

KNEE JERK alert – of course every generation has its quirks and nuances. Of course they create and nurture their own look, style and taste. Of course they adopt and use whatever technological advances, evolutions and applications they can. And of course sooner than they imagine, they find themselves part of another generation sandwiched between a former and a latter. As Henry David Thoreau so rightly said: “Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”

The problem is, we have become truly obsessed and over the wrong issues related to the Millenial generation.

You see here is the truth…they are not what analysts make them out to be — not in spending, not in what’s important to them, not in focus. In fact, I believe we have created a myth around them that empowers more wasted spending than it does success.

USA TODAY last month spelled it out:

Hey advertisers! Take a break from fixating on Millennials and check this out: Baby Boomers and their elders are making up an outsize share of consumer spending….

“The 50-plus and 60-plus population is clearly playing a large role in consumer spending and older consumers are going to become more significant as these trends intensify,” says Wayne Best, chief economist of Visa.

In the first quarter, Americans 55 and older accounted for 41.6% of consumer spending, up from 41.2% late last year and 33.5% in early 2007, according to government and Moody’s data. Toss in 53- and 54-year-olds, and the Boomer- and-older set comprise about half of all consumption, according to Visa and Moody’s Analytics. In other words, they’re spending somewhat less than they did when they were younger but more than their predecessors….

Advertisers, meanwhile, focus their campaigns almost exclusively on Millennials, says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst for the NPD Group, a consulting firm on consumer behavior and retail.

“The fastest-growing segment is the Boomer consumer,” Cohen says.” And they have a higher level of discretionary spending power.

Back in 2015, the warning sirens had already begun to sound but few seemed to listen — as described in a piece by The New York Times:

 …millennial mania that is overtaking all manner of businesses, and seems to be getting more obsessive by the day…[b]ut some analysts and consumers have begun to ask, what about the rest of us? After all, the millennial generation has less wealth and more debt than other generations did at the same age, thanks to student loans and the lingering effects of the deep recession. Though millennials are hailed as the first generation of “digital natives,” the over-40 (and 50 and 60) sets have become pretty adept when it comes to smartphones and other devices.

And in the same year good friends from TAXI Canada fired a brilliant warning shot:

Older people have the spending power. So why are ads obsessed with youth?

Advertising’s obsession with youth is well-documented, and most recently parodied by advertising agency Taxi Canada. In a video created for an award show recently, the agency mocked the focus on “millennials” (those in their 20s and early 30s) and proposed targeting consumers while they are still in the womb.

Watch the parody here.

As my favorite rock legend, Jim Morrison, once said: “Each generation wants new symbols, new people, new names. They want to divorce themselves from their predecessors.”

A truth as old as humankind.

But society advances and evolves because we mash up and cross over and mix and blend and mingle and synthesize the new and old and the older still until the sharing economy of today starts to resemble the sharing economy of the Great Depression; where the short-form serialization of stories mimics early motion pictures and where word of mouth can still be portrayed by an old Norman Rockwell painting.


So as much as we talk about cutting the cord, it’s the thousands of strands that still connect us that actually make the difference and are, in fact, the key insight to Marketing vs. Digitaling.

Or as Fast Company put it: “Your Obsession with Millennials Won’t Survive 2017”:

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett may have more in common than any two, randomly chosen Millennials.

This content is appropriate for people of all ages. And that’s the point. The days of targeting media and products at people based on their age is over.

Whatever demographers may say, the “millennial” moniker has worn out its usefulness. I propose an alternative–one that transcends generational boundaries, which aren’t reliable guides to traits or behaviors in the first place.…

In a recent article in the ABA Banking Journal, it’s suggested, in fact, that “attitudes and habits that are widely thought to be millennial-specific may actually be quite widespread among the general population.” Relevance belongs to every age, not only during the period of a generation’s ascension to power.

I have written and presented about this before. I call it Generation World, a study conducted by Y&R’s BAV (BrandAsset Valuator) across developed, semi-developed and developing countries that looked at adults 18 to 65+. Our key findings were:

They do not define themselves by age or demographic.

They are:

  • Ageless — 55% say age doesn’t define me, it’s not central to who I am.
  • Hyper-connected — 77% rely on social networks to stay connected.
  • Evolving — 53% say my identity — who I am — is a work in progress.

And we see it come to life in the way people favor brands.

BAV data shows there has been a significant convergence of leadership brands across the world for 18 to 29 and 50+ over the last 20 years.

Even their music taste is not too dissimilar. BBC Radio’s head of music shared, “If you look at the list of the 1,000 favorite artists for 60-year-olds, and the 1,000 favorite artists for 13-year-olds, there is a 40% overlap.”

So while Millennials are being given their own airlines

These days just about every marketing campaign is geared toward Millennials. So it was only a matter of time until the generation got its own airline.

Air France on Thursday announced it will launch Joon, a new airline-inside-an-airline geared towards anyone born after 1980. Joon will be “aimed at a young working clientele, the millennials (18 to 35 year-olds), whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology,” a statement said.

Details about the new carrier are scant, save for millennial marketing buzz words. But it will start flying European routes from Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in the fall and expand to long-haul flights in mid-2018, the airline said.

Remember this as well, from this week’s New York Times Vows:

She’s 98. He’s 94. They Met at the Gym.

She was looking ahead to Aug. 20, a day when the newlyweds will most likely have to work together to blow out the candles on Ms. Mokotoff’s birthday cake — all 99 of them.

“So I’m 99, 98, it’s just a number,” Ms. Mokotoff said. “But today, I’m still 98, right? So let’s not rush things.”…

Age doesn’t mean a damn thing to me or to Gert,” he said. “We don’t see it as a barrier. We still do what we want to do in life.”

But most importantly, if you are a Marketer and not a just a Digitaler, post this where you can see it as you work…listen:

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” Margaret Mead

There you have it….

Celebrate Generation World…it is you who are unique…not your label…

What do you think?

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