Myth 1: Millennials are monolithic
All snipes about hemp bags aside, Millennials are in fact deeply diverse in their habits and worldviews. One cannot hope to understand them merely by rounding up the crowd clustered around the Genius Bar at the Mac store and subjecting them to several rounds of ethnographic research -- though you sometimes get the impression that this is precisely where Millennial stereotypes originate.
For a healthy antidote to this blinkered thinking, check out Boston Consulting Group's survey of 4,000 Millennials, which uncovered such diverse sub-species as "Anti-Millennials" -- the 16 percent who are conservative, disinterested in sustainability, and averse to change -- and the "Gadget Gurus," the 13 percent who are predominately male, gadget-obsessed, and (it almost goes without saying) mostly single. BCG's study is a reminder that we marketers risk missing our targets when we over-generalize a generation, a habit for which I am now coining the term "generationalization."
Myth 2: Millennials can only be reached through social media
It's true that Millennials are more likely than other demographics to interact with the brands they love through social media, but the "love" part is not to be overlooked. Brands that succeed with Millennials in social media tend to be "naturally" social, with high customer engagement, product quality, and brand loyalty built across multiple channels.
And even these hardworking brands don't have it easy when it comes to connecting with over-connected Millennials: If you're lucky enough to be one of only nine brands, on average, among a Millennial's 200 Facebook friends, your updates are still showing up in their Timeline an average of 16 percent of the time, by Facebook's own estimates. While social media remains an essential arrow in the marketer's quiver, you're still going to need the whole quiver. Which leads me to...