Brands Must Avoid Assumptions When Targeting Millennials

by Gregg on December 7, 2012

I ran across a great infographic this week about Millennials that has plenty of food for thought for brands. Millennials are people in the 18- to 29-year-old age range that make up 20 percent of the adult U.S. population, according to Scarborough Research, author of the infographic (which is a free download).

What strikes me about Millennials – both from the infographic and the ones I happen to know – is that they’re intelligent. Arguably, they grew up with more access to knowledge than any previous generation, thanks in large part to the Internet. That’s profoundly shaped their values and, hence, what they choose to support, including brands.

I think there are negative perceptions about Millennials; indeed, a story posted today on Ragan’s PR Daily says Millennials have a "PR problem … [T]hey’re deemed lazy, selfish, spoiled, entitled, cheap, murderous, despotic—you get the point." But the statistics in the infographic seem to refute those charges and make them look like assumptions. And to me, any brand making those assumptions is missing a prime opportunity to engage and connect with an audience that is likely to be brand loyal for the long term.

Here are my insights on the statistics in the infographic:

  • They’re not really impulse shoppers, so they’re going to compare brands. Fifty-nine percent classify themselves as "Savers" rather than "Spenders," and just 27 percent would buy something on credit instead of waiting. A whopping 65 percent compare prices across different websites before buying online.
  • They expect their brands to be socially responsible. Thirty-seven percent want their brands to support social causes, while 46 percent are more likely to buy a brand that supports a charity. Forty-seven percent are willing to pay more for an environmentally safe product.
  • They value their diversity. Forty-three percent of Millennials – almost half! – identify themselves as other than Caucasian, compared with 38 percent of Generation X (my generation) and 26 percent of Baby Boomers (my folks’ generation).

What’s the bottom line? Millennials are looking beyond the price of a product; they want to support a brand that cares about the same things they do, and are willing to seek out those brands. They grew up with the Internet and cellular technology, so they have the means and the understanding to make cogent comparisons and decisions. They’re social and aren’t afraid to share their opinion, especially through social media channels.

Good line from the Ragan’s PR Daily article: " [B]rands that communicate a purpose and a cause often break through … Overall, [Millennials] demand value: How are you adding value to their lives?”

But to me, those most important thing is this: All of those qualities are ingrained in Millennials, which is bad news for any brand not willing to contour its strategy to account for that.

Image credit to Scarborough Research.

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