Let’s Cool It On Those Damn Millennials


Because, really, what other choice is there?

Since the term “Millennial” became commonplace in our day-to-day conversations, around 2000ish when the first members of the generation graduated high school, it’s mostly been treated like a four-letter word. Millennials have been described as whiney, lazy, entitled, blah blah blah – as if it were just a foregone conclusion. But now, as Millennials age into your target audience, it’s not just silly to keep up the “freakin’ Millennials” attitude – it’s potentially detrimental to your brand.

All the head-butting? It’s cyclical.

To summarize the complaint: Millennials are different from their predecessors, Gen X and Baby Boomers, who walked both ways uphill on their corded phones to the malt shop. But guess what? The disconnect between generations isn’t new.

Par exemple: Two popular movies were released about Gen X:Slacker andMall Rats. This lifestyle probably didn’t go over so well with their Boomer parents, who fought in Vietnam, or their Silent Generation grandparents, who invaded the beaches of Normandy. And Millennials will probably be critical of Gen Z and their holographic work meetings and peanut oil-fueled hovercrafts.

But the conversation – the tit-for-tat between generations – needs to shift. Neither side, particularly when it comes to their business interests, has much of a choice.

You can’t live with ‘em and you can’t market without ‘em.

Millennials are no longer a problem demographic or niche audience – they’re the population, as in they make up the largest age base in the U.S. So, complain and criticize at your own peril. There’s a solid chance – whether you’re making recruitment efforts for employment or college enrollment, pitching an online personal stylist service, or trying to sell home-delivery meal prep – that Millennials are part, if not the majority, of your target audience.

No matter how you view Millennials, they’re the current job seekers, the core consumers, the college-aged student body, the workforce, and the proverbial movers and shakers.

Now consider this: Millennials are unattached to brands and employers, which makes them quick to seek out greener pastures. At the moment, there is more information available (to anyone with internet access) than ever before. This means if a person, say, is unsatisfied with his or her job, school or shaving experience, it takes about four seconds – the unofficial time of a Google search – to find a superior alternative. If you don’t want your brand to be the catalyst of a rapid-fire internet search to replace your product or service, it makes sense to evolve your message.

The other side of Millennials. 

The good news is Millennials are socially conscientious, open-minded and passionate about making a difference. To their credit, they’re also not going to settle in a miserable job for 30+ years or stick to the status quo if a better consumer experience is available. While this can be seen as being entitled (a common adjective associated with Millennials), it actually holds brands to higher standards. Millennials expect you to have principles that reach beyond the bottom line. So whether it’s supporting a shoe company that strives to give back to the less fortunate or wearing socially conscious eyeglasses, Millennials are embracing brands and working for companies that disrupt the market and inspire change. And this is better for all of us.

What drives this noble spirit? As a whole, Millennials are the most educated generation in U.S. history. They went to college, en mass, and they want to use that experience – and level of awareness – to have a positive impact in the world. This is especially significant since they are, as studies show, destined for jobs their education-level exceeds with compensation that falls short of what the previous generation earned.

Learn to attract those pesky Millennials.

Millennials aren’t some Rubik’s Cube or marketing black hole, especially once you know what they’re looking for and how to talk to them. Consider:

  1. Appealing to their sense of purpose – show Millennials they’re doing something that matters or has a positive impact, whether they’re employees or consumers.

  2. Engaging them – this can be as simple as making Millennials feel like part of the team where they play a valuable role and have influence.

  3. Providing growth opportunities – it’s a common belief that Millennials don’t want to pay their dues in the workplace. True or not, the potential for growth or clear vision for their future can be a useful incentive.

It is what it is – for now.

Are Millennials flawed? Of course. They basically invented Instagram to share food and cat pictures. But what generation wasn’t: 1. flawed and 2. mercilessly ridiculed by their cantankerous seniors? It’s the natural order: the youngest living generation tends to anger the median-aged generation while the elder statesmen and stateswomen of the American populace tell everyone to get off their lawns.

That said, basic math mixed with human mortality tells us that the Millennial ideology is the prevailing one. And wanting a brand or employer to have social awareness or cultural significance seems a fair tradeoff given the harshness of the market that only embraces them out of necessity rather than a genuine interest in engagement.

Need help crafting a Millennial-focused messaging? Hit us up.


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