The Myth of Marketing to MillennialsJune 25, 15
Anyone else confused? It turns out that all this marketing to Millennials and putting the young, hip, technologically savvy consumers in a special (and exalted) category of their own might not be as wise as marketers have led us all to believe. This is not because the Millennials are not worth going after – they are – but their dollars are fickle and it turns out that there are still heaps of other people to target.
This is the conclusion from a recently published research report by Forrester Research. At this point, I have to be honest and say that at almost $500, I haven’t read the full report (though maybe we could start a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for me to do so). However, the company’s top sheet gives some interesting insights into what the report contains.
The report’s author, Sucharita Mulpuru’s key takeaway seems to be that retailers should stop “obsessing” over Millennials and instead turn their attention to older generations with greater financial power. Yup, that seems obvious. It makes more sense to target those people with real disposable income – perhaps Baby Boomers who have paid off the mortgage, are still working and are having fun “skiing” (Spending the Kids Inheritance).
Mulpuru’s research also debunks three supposedly common myths that she proposes drive retailers’ obsession with attracting Millennials.
First, says the report, Millennials are fundamentally different from other generations because of their exposure to technology. Certainly, they have been exposed to it, but technology is not solely the purview of those born after 1980. Further, as Mulpuru states, “every generation over the last several decades has experienced some extraordinary change during its youth.”
The second myth that the research debunks is that Millennials have very different tastes and habits, which is why marketers and brands struggle to attract them. Calls keep going out in the jewelry industry saying that Millennials do not want what their parents have; that you have to offer them something new and something “different.” Perhaps, however, that is not quite true. In Mulpuru’s view, Millennials are not fickle; rather they are financially strapped and consequently frugal.
While plenty of Millennials are working in highly paid jobs (the early technological exposure is a great leg up into the world of hi-tech), not everyone is earning top dollar. Millennials have come of age a tough economy and a difficult labor market.
Which brings us onto the third myth: Millennials are headed toward economic catastrophe because they are in unprecedented debt. Says Mulpuru, this is not entirely true as today’s youth are “making major life decisions that traditionally affect income at an older age,” however, they don’t necessarily have the disposable income that retailers believe them to have.
Perhaps the most important opinion is Mulpuru’s point that there is no such thing as "a customer for life." That is certainly true and perhaps, rather than targeting one type of a customer over another because it seems to be the popular thing to do, cherish the customers you do have, no matter if they are Gen-x’ers, Baby Boomers or yes, even the coveted Millennials.
Have a fabulous weekend.