If you read any of the content about Millennials being published these days, you get a vivid picture of what they’re all about.
They are: urban-dwelling, bike-riding, single-origin-coffee-drinking, craft-cocktailing, indie-folk-strumming, organic-food-eating social entrepreneurs who craft on the weekends, think tiny houses are awesome, only buy Apple products and moved out of mom’s house last month.
Something about all these attempts to label 77 million people doesn’t sit right with me. When I hear people say, “We need to be more [insert characteristic here] to appeal to Millennials,” I think to myself, “Really? Can an ingredient story about organic lavender win over an entire generation?”
My hypothesis is that as time goes on, Millennial stereotypes make less and less sense. To test this idea, I searched the Internet for broad statements about Millennials that directly contradict each other. I found plenty of good ones, but these are the best:
“Millennials are lazy” vs. “Millennials are entrepreneurial self-starters”
From Today Money: “The youngest generation of American workers is entering the workplace amid accusations that they are self-centered, unable to take criticism and unschooled in the art of working hard.” But Forbes reported that more than half of Millennials want to start a business, and one in five plan to quit their jobs to do it.
“Millennials are self-centered” vs. “Millennials are socially conscious”
A while back, USA Today wrote that Millennials are as civic-minded as The Greatest Generation. Then, a few years later, USA Today commented on the ubiquitous labeling of Millennials as the “me, me, me” generation.
“Millennials are hardboiled urbanites” vs. “Millennials are going suburban”
Are Millennials schizophrenic? Do they have multiple personalities? I doubt it. In this account planner’s humble opinion, Millennials are complex, multifaceted human beings trying to find their way in a nutty world. I’d say that most of the generalities are probably true, even those that contradict each other. Because Millennials (like all human beings) are constantly changing and growing.
So, marketers of the world, when approaching Millennials, here’s some advice: Question your assumptions. There are tremendous untapped opportunities to engage with this important demographic. But if you let stereotypes cloud your vision, you won’t see them.
Did I miss any good ones? Would you like to contradict my contradictions? Take it to the EMA Facebook page and we’ll be sure to respond.
By Jon Itkin, Senior Account Planner