As a college student born in the ‘90s, I’m a member of a target demographic that’s lately been overpowering marketing efforts. Millennials are now reportedly the “most powerful generation.” While intimidating, this label holds a good deal of truth to it. Not only do we have the largest population size but we also hold the greatest control over the future of the world. Considering the extent of our influence, it’s unsurprising that marketers are now going to extensive efforts to figure out how to appeal to us.
According to a CEB Iconoculture report, “Inside the Millennial Mind,” marketers have been approaching Millennials completely wrong. These ideas were discussed and summarized in a recent interview that appeared on Forbes. Either companies were marketing using the same tactics that were effective on previous generations or they were honing in on false characteristics.
Several obvious misconceptions about Millennials were debunked, such as the idea that we are all 25-year-old unemployed narcissists mooching off our parents’ funds. There were other subtler notions, though, that were also challenged. Millennials’ stunted adulthood is often blamed entirely on economic hardship, but according to the report, many fail to comprehend the fundamental lifestyle differences between Millennials and older generations. For example, Millennials have grown up in “a world of choice.” Since there are so many options available to us due to the new opportunities we’ve been granted, we often find ourselves searching around for different pathways through life instead of the straight line previously envisioned.
As a Millennial myself, though, I find it strange to find so much extensive research being conducted on myself. I understand the importance of being able to appeal to such an important population. If there is one negative side to this research, though, it’s the tendency toward artificiality. When research centers spew out data in this style, many businesses may fall in the trap of taking these findings and tacking them onto their current model.
As a result, many may run the risk of inconsistency, not only in their marketing approach but in their brand identity as well. One of the primary goals in branding is to determine the unique identity of a business or product. Many businesses, though, run the risk of sacrificing their identity in favor of appealing to some new aspect of Millennials, which in turn, results in both losing their validity as a brand.
While it is true that brands need to learn how to shift and evolve with changing societies, it is important to do so naturally and organically, with these changes occurring at all tiers rather than solely at the surface level. Only then will they be able to fully incorporate the Millennial mindset while remaining true to the story they wish to tell.
Constance Kaita, MSD Intern