Stop marketing to millennials!

Alex Keyworth-Wright

Millennials are defined by the Cambridge English Dictionary as “born in the 1980s, 1990s, or early 2000s”. They are essentially the generation between Generation X and the latest Generation Z (or Snowflakes but we know they don’t like to be called that). They remember a time before the internet, before social media, before smartphones but at the same time, the introduction of these technologies at a young age, meant they adapted and became highly skilled.

Millennials were first referred to as a target market a lot more recently, because they have jobs now and (in theory) disposable income, they’re a viable target market for a lot of companies, but should you be marketing to them? The answer to that is no. This generation that encompasses everyone from age 18 through to 38 is just too broad. The millennial generation has roughly 75 million people spanning a 20-year age gap. The priorities for an 18-year-old are very different than those of a nearly 40-year-old and their values and objectives vary wildly.

I’m a Millennial, by which I mean I was born in 1989, I remember a time before the internet, I remember dial-up and I’m never more than 5 feet from my smartphone. In this blog I’m going to look at how to narrow your target audience down to make your marketing efforts more successful.

Make it Inspiring

Nike’s recent run of ads, ‘Dream Crazy’ and the follow-up ‘Dream Crazier’, are nothing if not inspiring. Speaking specifically to young people who are interested in sport, they feature controversial American football player Colin Kaepernick and one of the most famous women in sport, Serena Williams. The ads focus on inspiring young people to aim high and whilst they have been received both positively and negatively, the stats speak for themselves:

  • 2.7 million. That’s the number of mentions of Nike (and counting) since last Monday–that’s a 1,400% increase from the previous day. Nike brand mentions increased by 135% compared to the previous week. (source: Talkwalker)
  • $43 million. That’s the cash value of media exposure the campaign generated in less than 24 hours since it first revealed the ad on Twitter. And, most of that coverage was neutral to positive, according to Apex Marketing Group.
  • 1,300%. That’s the jump Nike saw in mentions on Twitter between Sept. 2 and the day of the announcement (source: Brandwatch).
  • 28,958,781. That’s the number of views the “Dream Crazy” ad has on YouTube. After releasing its campaign, Nike had the most single-day video views for its social media channels over the last 90 days. It’s also the most views for any Nike video on YouTube in many months–and it’s not close.

Make it Innovative

If you’re disrupting the market and saving the consumer money, as well as being a fun and new product – then you’re a lot like Dollar Shave Club back in 2011!

We’ve blogged about this company before (read it here) but their message still stands – be new and be exciting. Whilst Dollar Shave Club isn’t exclusively targeting millennials, (they’re targeting anyone who uses a bathroom these days), their message still stands firm. Be original and win your audience over by making them smile. An emotional connection will always be successful.

Make it Shareable

At one point in my life, nearly every person I knew, had a Coca-Cola bottle with their name on it. Even people who didn’t drink it, had the bottle. Around 76,000 digital coke cans were shared online, and the campaign received over 18 million media impressions. Whilst the campaign was run in many channels, the main one where it really took off was Facebook. The name of this campaign? ‘Share a Coke’.

When it comes to marketing to millennials, bear in mind that a lot of them are on social media and want to share their content. However, don’t misfire on this one, not everything needs to be shared online – take Aldi’s attempt:

Aldi Tweet

Unsurprisingly, Twitter came up with a lot of NSFW suggestions, including ‘horse’, ‘your mum’ and some that I absolutely cannot repeat here!

Don't be preachy...

The latest campaign from a giant of the shaving world has left a lot to be desired in the eyes of its consumers. Gillette’s latest The best a man can be has not been met with a glowing reception, and in fact, a lot of people seem to be offended by the idea that their choice of razor could make them a better or worse person.

The video currently has 1.4M dislikes on YouTube and whilst some have applauded them taking a political stance, the general feeling is that it’s both preachy and accusatory.

It can be argued that Gillette was trying to talk to the millennial generation with this, following the recent #MeToo movement, but instead, all they did was anger their customers. So far, they haven’t posted any decline in sales but, it was only a few months ago… however, this did gain them massive media attention. And the reach of this campaign went way further because of this.

Developing a proper buyer persona is the most important lesson to take away from this – you can’t just go around saying ‘our customers are millennials’ or ‘baby-boomers’ or ‘Gen-Zers’ because those labels don’t mean anything!

Buyer personas should be specific, down to earth and true reflections of real people. You need to get inside the mind of your target market and understand exactly what makes them tick – after all, you’re selling an improvement to someone's life, not just a product.

If you need support with developing your buyer persona, why not give us a call? We can support you in identifying your customers, and more importantly, developing campaigns that show how you are best equipped to solve all their problems. Talk to us today on Twitter @TBT_Marketing, email [email protected], or phone +44 (0)1373 469270.

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