There’s no shortage of adjectives to describe millennials: tech savvy, adventurous, entitled or, as Time magazine described them on its cover a few years back, “The Me Me Me Generation.” But is it fair or accurate to paint all millennials with the same brush? LoyaltyOne doesn’t think so. The marketing agency is aiming to set the record straight with its new report, Debunking the Millennial Myth: Data Over Demographics.
“We felt the entire marketing world was, frankly, starting to get lazy, saying that if you’re born between this year and this year, you’re all going to act exactly the same, and you’re going to act a total 180 [degree turn] from how your parents are acting,” explained Melissa Fruend, partner at LoyaltyOne Global Solutions, when asked what prompted the research. “None of that is true.”
The risk of not understanding millennials can have a serious impact. “If your communications are not appropriate for them, they’re going to tune you out,” says Fruend. Here are the three big millennial myths that are identified—and debunked—in the report:
MYTH #1: Millennials are marketers’ most valuable demographic
REALITY: Although millennials are a much-coveted demographic, they don’t have the spending power of other groups. According to Statistics Canada, boomers account for about 46% of all income earned, while millennials bring in just 21%. The takeaway: Millennials are the earners of tomorrow and shouldn’t be discounted, but “more lucrative” opportunities remain with older demographics (gen-Xers and boomers).
MYTH #2: Millennials have different needs and expectations
REALITY: Sure, there’s an age gap between millennials and boomers and they access information differently, but the LoyaltyOne report found that many in both groups appreciate similar things, such as convenience and good customer service, when shopping.
MYTH #3: Millennials are a cohesive group
REALITY: According to the report, a preoccupation with the similarities millennials share as a cohort ignores their differences. For instance, while 45% of younger millennials (aged 18 to 24) rely on friends and family for purchase advice, only 28% of older millennials (aged 25 to 34) do. Bottom line: By targeting millennials as one unified group, you may miss reaching them altogether.