The Boston Consulting Group has conducted research that looks at this enigmatic group of people (which is almost 80 million strong in the US alone) that range in age from 16-34 years old. The study is very interesting and if there is an overarching theme to takeaway from the information it’s that you should be cautious not to clump all millennials into one neat package.
In fact the report (which you can get here but you will need to register) breaks the group into six smaller ones, all of which we have probably seen to one degree or another.
This approach should be taken with any larger group since this kind of segmentation can reveal VERY different lifestyles amongst a group. However, if any marketers have developed a personal bias and see all millennials as one type of person they could be making a grave business mistake.
What is most interesting for marketers is the caution that the report gives in the stereotyping of this group. They have increasing buying power but a skewed view of what a millennial is and what they represent could cause marketers to miss opportunities. A closed mind can crush the bottom line. Take a look at how millenials view themselves v. how non-millennials view them in this word cloud comparison.
It’s usually the case that outsiders tend to view groups, especially those younger than themselves, in much less flattering terms than the group itself does. Some of the less than admirable traits as seen by non-millennials are very emotionally charged like lazy, spoiled, selfish. Funny that millennials are not very afraid to call themselves lazy so maybe there is some agreement there.
At any rate, it is imperative for marketers to set aside any image they personally have of any group. If there is disdain for the millennials and what they stand for but they are the prime market for your product you better put aside the bias or expect a smaller bottom line.
Millennials are a very unusual segment in that they are coming up during a time of such rapid change that they are either driving or are directly participating in. They are experiencing change at a greater pace than any other group, arguably, in history.
The Internet era is this century’s version of the Industrial Revolution. Things are changing but unlike the times of change in the past where mostly adults were the beneficiaries of the change, today’s change impacts people of all ages. In fact, one could argue that the younger the person is the more tech savvy they are thus the less connected they are to groups older than them who are trying to learn these new things rather than being raised on them.
Sure the same could be said for the PC era but this is different. Today is very different and if marketers don’t figure that out and set aside their own preconceived notions of the millennials place in this world, they do so at their own risk.