So the title of this blog was going to be way more offensive than I finally decided. I am just getting to the end of my tether with the use of ‘millennials’ as any sort of quality or useful market segmentation method.
Let me break it down for you. Howe and Stauss define the millennial generation as individuals born between 1982 and 2004, Newsweek magazine defined millennials as those born between 1977 and 1994 and Time magazine place them as being born from 1980-2000. So whatever way you cut it – they are vaguely defined as people that right now are somewhere between 16 and 40. Well, go figure, those people are quite varied!
Look, I get it, there are some generalisations that you can make – they are more tech savvy for instance – well woop-de-doo! Do you really think that the 16 year-old London kid, Snapchatting and Pokemon-game-playing their way through high school has much in common with a 40 year-old accountant with 3 kids that lives in the rural West Country? Because if you do, if this is how you segment audience and how you market to people – then:
STOP. RIGHT NOW. TEAR UP YOUR MARKETING PLAN. FIND A NEW VOCATION and STOP BRINGING DISREPUTE TO OUR WONDERFUL INDUSTRY.
Ok, ok – rant over. I even got into a little Twitter squabble this week with Dan Purvis and Amanda Clark about this very subject. I think it is only fair to mention this as this is why our industry is so great. Using the mediums we profess about to share views and have healthy debate. I was unaware of Amanda’s work and – through a healthy debate – have ended up digesting loads of her blogs, which have some truly awesome content in them. Subsequently, I have also enjoyed following Dan’s tweets – some great articles and views shared.
Amanda makes a good point in point 5 of her millennial blog – that “not all millennials are created equal”. And I believe that you can take this much further.
So it wouldn’t be a good blog if a just ranted – so here are 4 tips to think about more than ‘millennials’ and the generation gap when it comes to segmentation:
1. Get ‘micro’ with ages
On a very base level of segmentation – age does play a role and assumptions can be made about ages when building personas. So why not take the ‘millennial’ approach and develop it. Look at smaller segments of the audience by ages and segment ages on a micro level.
2. Use interests
Interests are a great start point for segmentation. I think you can group audience more easily and market to them by their interests rather than some of the more obvious demographic data.
3. Use behaviour
The newest, best and most real-time data for me right now is behavioural data. Axiom, Datalogix, Facebook, Twitter, Google etc all have a world of data about us and know where we go online, what we do, how we interact and as our behaviour changes – so does the data. How about a database of personas that updates itself! Yes, it is awesome and powerful.
This is about so much more that targeting based on location (where you live). With effective geo-targeting I can understand where you are NOW and where you WERE. How is this powerful? Imagine know all the people who are in London Mon-Fri and then Europe on the weekend – i.e. they work in London and live abroad – what could you learn about those people from that data? What would be important to them? What would you say to them?
So that is my 2 cents – but you don’t have to listen – you can keep marketing to huge market segments with a spray and pray approach, who knows, you might get lucky.