An open letter to brands, agencies, political pundits and anyone else who’s let that word pass their lips.
Dear Mr/Ms marketing director/agency head/journalist (delete as appropriate).
Stop it. Please, stop it. Stop calling me a “millennial”.
The very word make me cringe. Not that its synonyms are any better — “Generation Y”, “Generation Me”, “Echo Boomers” and whatever other bullshit catch-all terminology you want to add to the list of terms describing… Wait, who exactly are you trying to describe? A quick search of “millennials” throws up a whole host of half-arsed definitions that all disagree slightly about what a “millennial” actually is. But anyway, let’s average out all the ‘experts’ talking about them and go with anyone born between the early 90s and the early 00s.
I’ll write that again.
Anyone born between the early 90s and the early 00s.
You really want to use a single term to talk about everyone that’s currently between the ages of 14(ish) and 27(ish)? You think that everyone in that age bracket is so homogenous that there are no conceivable differences between them? You think that I — the 24 year old, privileged white guy who lives in Bath and works in marketing has the same goals/dreams/desires/interests/motivations as the 19 year old black builder in Luton? The muslim teenager in Egypt? The 16 year old in Mogadishu? What about the same tastes? Do we all like artisan coffee, Red Wings and reject the traditional 9-5 in favour of flexible working, as the millennial stereotypes dictate?
I understand that segmentation is a contentious issue. That you may well have read about P&G’s decision last year to scale back on their segmentation in favour of broader campaigns. It stands to reason, therefore that these catch-all terms are fine, right?
“Companies and their brands need to reach out and speak directly to consumers, to honor their values, and to form meaningful relationships with them. They must become architects of community, consistently demonstrating the values that their customer community expects in exchange for their loyalty and purchases.” – Simon Mainwaring
Whether you like it or not successful marketing relies on you understanding the complex, ever evolving needs of your customers. Despite what economists may tell you otherwise, we’re not rational actors. We’re emotional, prone to mistakes and intensely individual.
If you have so little respect for me that you’re not willing to spend time learning about me and would rather shoehorn me into some catch-all group because it correlates with some articles that you read on Mashable, Business Insider or Forbes then don’t expect my custom.