Millennials, Strategy and Segmentation: How to Get it Wrong

Finally, millennials are getting some good press. Although it’s easy to stereotype this group of young adults as technology-obsessed, financially-frivolous extroverts, a recent Carat survey (among other sources) state that only 42% of millennials are that KIND of millennial. The other 58% fall into different sub-groups, each with vastly distinctive goals, values, and outlooks. Millennial-loving marketers have come across a major “ah-ha” moment, and as a member of this demographic and an advertising practitioner, I say it’s about time. Some audience groups that are also commonly generalized in advertising include moms, the elderly, and the evolving family unit structure. The portrayals of these segments in advertising haven’t changed much in the last fifteen years, despite massive changes in culture and consumer behavior.

So what can this tell us about strategy? Understanding segmentation is key. The more you assume and generalize about a target audience, the greater chance there is for missed communication, unsuitable media placement, or a faulty tone. So dig deeper into target audience subsets and segments by conducting more in-depth research to understand them and their habits both on- and off-line. Incorrect generalizations can often come from only assessing the digital data. If a millennial visits a food blog four times in a month, does that make them a foodie? Or just a hungry guy killing time on their lunch hour? Examining digital data only goes so far, and it’s important to remember that even the “technology-obsessed” have lives off-screen.

Qualitative data digs deeper, leads to stronger insights, better targeting strategies, and more effective creative work. You’ll resonate with your audience on a deeper level. Living during an era when advertising is consumed more cautiously, authenticity and understanding make your communication more real to the target. Take a note from the continuously stereotyped millennials, moms, grandpas and blended families: shoot for understanding their habits both on the web and out in the everyday world to form a well-rounded strategy that truly resonates segment by segment.