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Avoid doing impressions — take a closer look at Millennials

By Tim Barlow | May 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

MarketingMarketing, Consumer, and B2B Insights

The world has been talking about Millennials for so long, it’s no surprise stereotypes have built up over the years. Even the term “Millennial” has become a four-letter stand-in for hipsters or any young person doing something cringe-worthy or annoying — probably involving avocado toast or Ja Rule.

But much like doing an impression of someone else’s impression, these Millennial caricatures often don’t capture the true nature of this highly nuanced and often divided generation. There are over 80 million Millennials out there, and (as of this year) they range in age from 24 to 41 years old. That’s a lot of different people living a lot of different lives.

Over the last few years, Gartner’s Consumer Insights Research Team has focused much of our Millennial research on breaking down not only the stereotypes of this generation but also the various subsegments and life stages this cohort is navigating. It’s critical for marketing leaders to understand and empathize with these nuances and not fall into the trap of marketing to (or with) a Millennial impression. Here are a few recently published pieces to get you started on your real Millennial journey:

  • With the combined impacts of the Great Recession and the uneven recovery, Millennials continue to struggle financially. But middle-income Millennials ($50K to $120K HHI) are uniquely burdened. With the highest rates of student and auto loan debt, members of this segment don’t yet think of themselves as middle class and they aren’t spending like previous generations of middle-class consumers. They also aren’t taking these challenges lying down. Middle-income Millennials are focused on long-term financial stability and willing to put in the work and sacrifice to get there. To win over middle-income Millennials, focus on lowering the barriers to entry and marketing tiered product levels that can grow along with incomes.

For more, read “Best Practices for Marketing to Middle-Income Millennials.” (subscription required)


  • From values and priorities to money and spending, children change everything for new parents, or at least they used to. The majority of Millennials are now parents (58% and growing), but not surprisingly, Millennial parents are approaching this disruptive life stage with some disruption of their own. Rather than revolve their lives around their children, Millennial parents are increasingly opting to incorporate their brood into a wider range of their own preferred activities. To win over Millennial parents, marketers need to look for opportunities to facilitate win-win scenarios for both young parents and children.

For more on how to do this, read “Best Practices for Marketing to Millennial Parents.”  (subscription required)


  • The oldest Millennials are officially over the hill. But what does the big 4-0 mean for a generation that’s had accusations of Peter Pan Syndrome following them throughout their adult lives? Well, it turns out Older Millennials do have a jaundiced eye toward the future, but it’s not because they’re scared to grow up. The late ‘80s and ‘90s in which Older Millennials came of age offered a comparatively stable and rosier starting point for this cohort, but now serve as a stark contrast to the unpredictable and complicated world they find themselves in. To best connect with Older Millennials, marketers can leverage nostalgic throwbacks to their past, promote simplicity for their complicated present, and offer comforting assurances for the future.

For more, check out: “Finding the Marketer Opportunity in Older Millennials Bracing for 40” (subscription required) and “Best Digital Marketing Practices for Older Millennials.” (subscription required)

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