Millennials are not a marketing segment
They’re to blame for everything.
When they’re not causing avocado shortages, they’re busy killing cultural and economic fixtures.
Here's a few of the things that millennials have destroyed: potatoes, liberal arts, sitcoms, housing, the 9-5 working day, focus groups, dinner dates, romance, cruises, napkins, running, soap, golf, relationships, holidays, wine corks, diamonds, casual dining, starter homes, cereal, motorbikes, yogurt, fabric softener, banks, department stores, the high street, designer handbags, gyms, DIY and oil.
And this list is not exhaustive, although it is exhausting to read.
What is a millennial anyway?
Millennials are people who reached adulthood around the turn of the millennium; anyone who was born between the mid-1990s and the noughties – a span of roughly 20 years (depending on who you ask).
As you can see, millennials is just a label applied to a generation of people.
They were preceded by Generation X, and followed by Generation Z.
A generation is a huge group of people. There are roughly 2 billion millennials in the world.
As such, 'millennials' tells us very little about their nature, preferences or behaviours.
While ‘millennials’ is a problematic grouping to use as a marketing segment, there are good reasons to seek to divide customers into different groups, and to tailor communications and promotions to their interests.
If you want to reach a diverse group of customers, you inevitably dilute your messaging in order to appeal to everyone, regardless of age, income, location, religion, language, employment status and interests. It’s very difficult to convince everyone with the same message. With a single message for everyone, you will inevitably lose the interest of some.
On the other hand, if you identify a few different groups within your target audience, you can explore their key differentiators, understand their preferences and build a picture of the kinds of messages that resonate.
You are more likely to send successful messages that get clicks and conversions if you segment your audience.
How big is your audience?
If you have a small target audience, or your offerings have a narrow field of interest, then you may not need to segment.
However, if you have a large, broad audience, then segmentation can help you get a better response from your communications.
What does your data tell you?
The key starting point for segmentation is to consult your customer data and to look at external sources for information about the people you want to reach. Government statistics, market research and industry reports can all provide useful data about your market.
Once you’ve gathered information, it’s time to look for patterns and begin to identify trends. For example, you might notice particular traits that are more dominant in one age group, or location, than another.
After identifying key segments, it’s important to personalise these broad sets of characteristics with tools like customer personas.
You can then build marketing and communication campaigns that connect with the key traits of your defined segments.
However you segment your market, it is likely to be more lucrative than trying to reach an entire generation, such as millennials*.
*And yes, we do realise the irony of having published this article about marketing to millennials.