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Same but Different

Category: Andy Marken's blog Published on Monday, 17 September 2012

Millennials Are Individuals, Not Demographics


“There's definitely something in here with us!” – David, “Alien 3,” 20th Century Fox, 1992

Now that we can easily get the information, we love to classify people according to one of the many categories the industry has developed over the years -- Boomers, Millennials, teens, pre-teens; white, Asian, Hispanic, African-American; as well as bosses, us, politicians, honest people.

Marketers like to have this information because it makes it possible for them to tailor their messages and pitch stuff to you. 

It’s really amazing how much your being online and connected 24x7 produces comprehensive piles of data about who you are, what you do, where you go and what you think about. Guess that’s why they call it Big Data.


The generation that most in the industry like to pay attention to is Millennials (18-29) they’re the first generation that has grown up online.

As Ripley explained,
“I've been out here a long time.”

Even a little shift in their technology usage gives you a real good indication of how younger generations will quickly adapt it to their usage – faster, better, more thoroughly.

Blurred Lines

The generational breakdown numbers are pretty impressive for the online generation.

Global Footprint – Millennials (19-29) were the first to be completely in the online world sharing ideas and information on a global scale. They bridge a lot the values and cautions of older generations but need to constantly be in touch with the younger generations. They are key individuals to helping us move across Michael Moore’s technology chasm. Source – U.S. Census

Older generations were first classified as the “Generation We” and were grouped as malcontents, coddled, naive (you know, the “occupy” movement).

Of course, your generation was labeled a pain in the behind just as Millennials have been, right?


Still, someone got that whole labeling thing wrong. Actually, they’re pretty adjusted in their own skin. Ripley added, “I'm on medication.”

Not So Different – While older generations like to portray Millennials as the “We Gen,” they are actually pretty satisfied with their position and their progress in the world they have inherited. Sure, they don’t think their present job is a lifetime career point, but do you anymore? Source – Kenmexa Institute

Heck, they’re more satisfied with the recognition they receive than the older categories (boomers, Gen Yers), more satisfied with their progress, and not really dissatisfied with their work/pay.

It’s true, they don’t plan to stick with the same job (33 percent), compared to the older generations (average of 24 percent); but hey, they were looking for jobs when they found the ones they have now.

Different Focus

Millennials certainly have a different work ethic than prior generations as Pew Research and Tempo, a firm that produces “painless time tracking” recently reported.

Looking at tHe timesheets, Dillon declared, “He's *never* lied to me! He's crazy, he's a fool, but he's not a liar!”

Differences – The things that make generations different also make them stronger, better. The question was open ended and Pew chose the top five most frequent responses across each generation. Differences look pretty similar don’t they? Source – Pew Research

We didn’t realize that companies still waste time tracking time, but Tempo reported that:
· Millennials wasted four times more time than earlier generations
· The more educated, the more time wasted
· Time wasters were iNet usage (48%), coworker socializing (33%), personal business (30%), personal calls (19%)
· Excuses – lack of work satisfaction (49%), underpaid (34%), no incentive (24%), work hours too long (19%), “everyone else” is a distraction (18%)
· Reasons for lost productivity – fixing others work (54%), office politics (47%), waiting for coworker (42%), meetings (42%)

Different Tools

That probably hasn’t changed much with each generation, but what has changed is their use of devices and the way they communicate:

· Their desire to blog has dropped from 24 to 12% in the past five years
· Their use of social networking sites has increased from 37 – 51% in the past four years
· Facebook is the most commonly used location but they’re cautious, skeptical about what they post
· 81% are wireless internet users – 55% on laptop, 55% on a mobile phone, 28% on another device
· Two-thirds own a laptop, while only 58% own a desktop
· While teens own an average of 3.5 gadgets – cellphone, mp3 player, computer, game console, portable gaming device; Millennials have an average of four devices – cellphone/smartphone, laptop, desktop, mp3 player, gaming device, ebook reader, tablet, iPad

Follow Us – Millennials have not only led their elders into the digital community they have also pointed out that the online world is one where you have to be a little more cautious and careful. They tend not to jump into the deep end on each new advance, but try it to see if it is worthwhile to invest their time in mastering. Source – Pew Research

Older generations seem to be obsessed with all of our newfound technology while Millennials and younger just tend to take it in stride, picking and choosing the device and solution that meets their need at that moment.

As Melanie Shreffler, editor-in-chief of youth market research firm, Ypulse, recently noted, “It’s possible there’s too much technology in our lives, even for Millennials.”

Millennials are willing to share their information when it is to their benefit and that includes their brand preferences.

Cautiously Out There – Millennials around the globe are using sites to establish themselves and make their wants/needs known. They share product information but “Like” just doesn’t mean what people would like you to think it means. Like it’s OK!Source - Edelman

The challenge for marketers is to walk the fine line of “talking” with them without promoting at/past them to the older generation that is working side by side with the Millennials and wants to brandish his/her latest technology understanding/expertise.

Different Marketing
You have to remember that Millennials are running just as hard, just as fast to keep up with Gen C teens/tweens who never knew life before the Internet. For them, phone booths, mailboxes and faxes were historical things. Clever generation centric ads usually fail…miserably.

Gen Xers, Boomers who create/target the campaigns might say they’re cool, but really? The same goes for the medium surrounding the message. 



Ad Influence – Many advertisers question the value of their online advertising and struggle to show a tangible return on investment (ROI). Funny isn’t it, the old stand-bys – reading about it, visiting the store, receiving a direct contact deliver the best results, even with Millennials. Source – The Neilsen Company

It’s easy to say that the latest, hottest social media site is where the ads should be to educate, interest, influence and sell ‘em.

Sorry, they just don’t care what tech gadget they’re using to get the information they want.

“Liking” something is okay for older/younger folks, maybe.

Seeing the dilemma, Ripley said,
“Well, I guess I must make you nervous.” After all, there are better places to get the real buying information.

Only a Click Away – Millennials know exactly where to find assistance and information on problems, issues. They jump online to search for the answers or they access the company’s resources to get the answer themselves. Millennials are remarkably self-reliant. Source – Isurus Market Research

Millennials care about the health of the world around them as well as product quality, value, functionality.

BUT…they are also more image conscious than older generations, so cool factors also play in the buying decision.

You think Apple sells boatloads of iPads, iPhones, iTouchs, Macs because of better working conditions, smaller carbon footprint, superior value?

How about bling?

Yeah, maybe a little!

Millennials are very aware of where they do what online, how to manage their privacy, how to manage their digital trail.

As we noted earlier, Millennials have grown up in the digital era and live in a media-saturated environment.

When they have issues, questions or problems, they know where to go to find answers, solutions; which is way different from our approach (call a friend who understands this stuff!).

Organizations already see the impact Millennials are having on their operations with the widespread use of BYOD (bring your own device) and increased organizational/activity transparency.

At the same time, Gen Xers and Boomers are staying in the workforce longer than earlier generations and often they’re the folks in control of developing, changing our customer engagement models.

The challenge is there are no longer generational groups of consumers anymore. There are individual consumers.

Image Source – “Alien 3,” 20th Century Fox

Which is probably why Clemens said, “Now that I've gone out on a limb for you with Andrews, damaged my already less-than-perfect relationship with that good man and briefed you on the humdrum history of Fury 161; can you not tell me what you were looking for in the girl?”

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