Millennials. The fabled avocado-eating, coffee-drinking, money-wasting demographic that many organisations want to get their content in front of. Well, it’s a waste of time.

Let’s break down the supposed demographic you are targeting to. By most definitions, millennials are anyone born from the 1980s up to late 90s. That’s it. That means your content could be made to target a 38-year-old as well as an 18-year-old. They most definitely do not have the same life goals or intentions.

The stereotypes are wrong

There was a recent social media campaign by a travel company aimed at the below 30s where the main slogan was ‘Save 9 coffees and afford a trip deposit’. The backlash in the comments was phenomenal.

Millennials aren’t an obsessed generation pining after that last cappuccino that their paycheque won’t allow for. Judging by some of the replies, it’s insulting to people who do work and save hard with the opportunities they can access. The video below hits every stereotype you need to avoid in a concise manner that attacks every brand that’s ever tried this as a tactic.

Engagement

These stereotypes, unfortunately, help people to make choices in their social media engagement with the millennials. Let’s take this example from T-Mobile. First of all, what? Second of all, this is a colossal waste of time and I hope zero ad spend was put behind this. Emojis can be useful for engaging with younger people but if it backfires you will look like a grandparent stating ‘how cool’ something is.

It’s way too broad

The basic problem is that targeting a millennial audience is way too broad a spectrum to try and market to. As I previously mentioned, there’s a 20 year age gap between the oldest and youngest, they have very different priorities in life. Your marketing needs to be based on people who have specific interests. Artisan coffee might actually count here, as long as it’s not telling young people the reason they can’t save for a house is because of their coffee habits.

It’s a case of returning to the drawing board. Can you create remarketing campaigns targeting users you know are already engaged? Aim for those with specific interests; targeting a millennial is essentially just picking an age range and hoping for the best.

How can I target millennials then?

If you want to speak ‘in their language’ memes can work, but only when done very well. There’s this example below from Diet Coke highlighting their rebrand. They’ve teamed with an influencer who already has built up a relevant audience and then created a meme that doesn’t try too hard. It’s simple, effective and I imagine extremely costly.

T minus 12 hours till my next @dietcoke #DietCokeFlavorRoom #Ad

A post shared by Claudia Oshry Soffer (@girlwithnojob) on

There needs to be a focus on experiences and relevant interests. The ‘Light You Up’ Adidas campaign hit the audience with mobile banner ads to then push them to a live experience to promote their new football boots. It worked as it was a fleeting experience that you were either a part of or missed out. This worked as they were hitting the audience on the right apps and were doing it in a genuine fashion.

Pretending to engage with an app simply because you know your desired audience is on there is a bad strategy. I see lots of businesses getting Snapchat for the sake of it because they want to ‘get down’ with millennials. It’s important to be genuine.

Ultimately, your goal should never be to target an entire generation, but if that’s your brief, you need to be smart when tackling the problem. Stop marketing to millennials, market to the people behind the demographic. Don’t even get me started on Generation Z.

George Driscoll

Digital PR Executive

SEO Executive specialising in creative copy, unconventional Digital PR campaigns, and refined keyword targeting across an array of service areas. Outside of work, I'll be watching Netflix, the latest films, or avidly defending the DC Cinematic Universe.

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