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Do marketers still care about Millennials?

Do marketers still care about Millennials? Greg Kihlström
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I know what you might be thinking right now: Another marketing article about Millennials? You're probably not alone. You could say that we've all reached a saturation point as far as talk and discussion about marketing to Millennials, engaging with them, and understanding their behavior. Even research by organizations like Forrester has pointed to the fact that this generation is overhyped.

That being said, they are still a major demographic that will spend over $200 billion in 2017 alone. So the answer to the question, "do marketers still care about Millennials?" is definitely yes. What has shifted over the last several months and years is how Millennials are segmented, prioritized, and analyzed by marketers.

This article will discuss a few reasons why marketers care should still care about Millennials, as well as a few reasons why they care less about Millennials in particular.

Why marketers care about Millennials

Let's start things off with a few reasons why marketers still care about Millennials, and why you should continue to pay attention to this generation in your marketing and advertising efforts. Despite suffering from overload of discussion about them, there are good reasons to pay attention and actively watch this group.

Purchasing

There is no denying that Millennials have a lot of money to spend. While older generations may have more money, and the younger generation is doing some interesting things and establishing their own voice, there are still a lot of reasons to pay attention to the Millennials.

As Generation X ages and Baby Boomers are now all over the age of 50, the Millennial generation is coming into their own as professionals, parents, home buyers, and entrepreneurs. This means that this generation is just starting to exercise its purchasing power and this isn't going to change any time soon.

Their behavior is an influence on past and future generations

As America's largest generation, Millennials are a huge influencer of those that preceded them and follow them. One example of this type of spread of influence is how social networks like Facebook or Snapchat often start out being used by younger demographics, then are gradually adopted by older generations as they become assimilated into our culture.

This phenomenon extends well beyond social networks to shopping, banking, and many other activities. As Millennials continue to establish themselves in all aspects of being consumers, their extensive purchasing behaviors will no doubt continue to influence other generations.

Some of this influence will be direct through word of mouth and other similar methods, and some will simply be because tailoring products to the Millennial generation is going to have an impact.

Why marketers don't care about Millennials (as much as they used to)

Now let's explore a few of the reasons that Millennials are not quite as notable as they used to be. Despite the large size of this generation, as time goes on, marketers are softening to the hype that surrounded it for several years.

It isn't nearly as easy to stereotype a typical Millennial as it once seemed

It's great when you can clearly define an audience as all thinking, acting, and being motivated by the same things. But with the Millennial generation being the most diverse in our history, it has proven next to impossible to define a typical example of one.

This means that as interesting as they are, Millennials are often easier to define in terms of groups of people encountering different phases in life (e.g., buying a car or house, starting a family, etc.) than simply being born between two arbitrary dates. Because of this, they are less interesting as Millennials than they are as people encountering life moments, which might even be shared with people from other generations.

Older generations are normalizing to some of Millennials' behavior

As Millennials age, they are being faced with the same challenges, life decisions, and day-to-day minutia that Generation X, Baby Boomers, and those before all faced. This means some of the idealism and unique behaviors of this generation -- which was not forced to deal with every aspect of reality before -- is now beginning to encounter the same things that all other "grown-ups" have been dealing with. In other words, Millennials are becoming a lot more like "us" the older they get.

By the same token, it also means that as Millennials' behavior, preferences, and styles have been in the popular vernacular for several years now, they have all become "normal" to those around them. It means that older generations are picking up on what the "kids" have been doing, and thus many of the things that used to make Millennials unique have now become normal behavior.

For marketers, this simply means that Millennials as a whole are now less unique and more a part of the rest of society. For this reason, they have become a little less interesting.

It's time for the next generation

Finally, one reason marketers care less about Millennials is that they are now becoming enamored with the next generation of consumers. Generation Z, or Gen Z, are capturing the attention of those trying to find what is coming up next from the younger cohort following in the footsteps of Millennials.

Some of this may have to do with our short attention spans, and some may be related to the reasons stated earlier. What is clear is that the attention being paid to Millennials in particular is waning a bit as of late, as different approaches to reaching consumers are being used, and as the younger generation is captivating marketers' attention.

Conclusion

I hope you've found this article to be different than the "average" article about marketing to Millennials. While they are and will continue to be an important demographic to understand, engage with, and activate, as Millennials have continued to grow up and infiltrate the workspace, buy homes, have children, and encounter the same challenges and opportunities as older generations, they have become less of an anomaly and more of the norm.

This means that while marketers still care about Millennials, they and their habits are becoming the baseline that marketers are using to plan their efforts. Their diversity across many spectrums makes it difficult to target them as a single group, and the newer generation of young consumers also seems to be capturing the attention of marketers.

Like all marketers, it's highly likely you will be reaching out to this generation for years to come in your advertising and marketing efforts, but it's clear that Millennials' hold on our attention is already waning.

Greg is a digital strategist and creative director who has worked with top brands on a number of campaigns, including AOL, AARP, Ben & Jerry's, Geico Direct, MTV, Starbucks, The Nature Conservancy, Toyota, TV One and Washington Wizards.

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