We’ve all been there. You receive a brief and you’re asked to target Millennials. That’s the description of the target. Your immediate reaction is, “Great. Targeting this group will be a piece of cake.” After all, by now we’ve all spent years learning everything there is to know about Millennials, and we get them. First, they were the misunderstood generation—the one thought to be lazy and selfish. Now, we idolize Millennials for their drive and unrelenting passion to create their own path.
Targeting the Millennial demographic is no-brainer… until you actually get to work, and realize the term perhaps means less than you thought it did.
It’s true, marketers know a lot about Millennials. Their buying power is so strong that we would be foolish not to invest in them. But are marketers really talking to them as people—or as a group? That’s the danger of thinking in demographics.
We must remember: All Millennials are not created equal. They must be considered across multiple segments, based on their traits and behaviors. For marketers to really reach Millennials, they need to speak to their behaviors and not just their demos. Here are three reasons why…
- Demographics are too broad: It’s highly unlikely that someone’s age is going to tell you whether they are willing to buy a certain product. And in most cases, these briefs only really give us Millennials as an age bracket. Demos don’t go deep enough to tell us what people want or need.
- Demographic targeting treats all consumers equally: Demographics label people into one group with little consideration of their beliefs, behaviors and feelings. We cannot rely on targeting the “typical consumer” anymore. That doesn’t exist.
- Behaviors can be changed: As marketers, we can’t really change a person’s demographics, but we can change their behavior. Learning about certain behaviors helps to shape our strategies and better target the right individuals.
All of this is not to say that demographics are useless. They were once our primary perspective on relevant consumer information. But now with the addition of behavioral segmentation, marketers are better equipped to tell a more complete story.
It’s not rocket science—think of them as people. Build behavior into your strategy. Build that strategy based on the actions of individual people versus the assumed collective trends of a group that just happened to be born at a certain, large span of years.
Don’t assume you know Millennials. Keep digging.
Carly Smith is a strategist at Momentum Atlanta