If you follow the headlines about Millennials, you might imagine the generation as a roving band of vigilante consumers, seeking the next industry to kill. They’ve already said “R.I.P.” to credit cards, divorce, napkins and Applebee’s — or maybe not, given that Millennials are finally making the schlep to the suburbs. With the generation 78.1 million strong, Millennials’ “kill rate” presents a pretty terrifying picture.
As a Millennial myself (or, an adult born sometime between 1978 and 1995), I find these headlines rather alienating, as do many of my peers. So where are these ideas coming from?
The reality is that this generation doesn’t tend to trust institutions and brands — only half say they trust national businesses, and 88% think private labels are just as good as branded products. Millennials, especially the older half of the generation, feel like the rug was pulled out from under them when they came of age during the Great Recession. All the promises of a lucrative career that would make those student loans worthwhile seemed to vanish overnight. The reality of stagnant wages and the perception that financial institutions can’t be trusted have resulted in a generation of adults who feel like they can’t get ahead.
At the same time, marketers interpreting metrics on dashboards through the lens of these dramatic headlines risk drawing the wrong conclusions. For example, many marketers believe that Millennials are not a worthwhile target for investment services, or that they’re disengaged from society, or that they’re only aware of brands they see on Instagram or Snapchat. But those marketers are wrong. Worse, they are missing out on a massive opportunity to build trust and loyalty with this generation.
It’s not all bad news and murderous headlines, though. Millennials, by necessity, are an extraordinarily adaptable generation and happy to spend their hard-earned dollars on brands that “get them” — brands they actually do trust. Marketers can ensure their brands stay trustworthy and relevant (read: alive) with this generation by demonstrating an understanding of Millennials’ financial reality, acknowledging Milllennials’ ideals and identity, and rightsizing digital marketing to reach the cohort beyond their online lives.
For more on how to do all three, check out “Best Practices for Marketing to Millennials.”