Busting the myths around Millennial men

At YMS NYC on May 20th, Slaine Jenkins, Senior Manager at Insight Strategy Group will be presenting the findings of data collected into the multi-dimensional Millennial man and share how they are shaping the economy, globalization and social media. We caught up with her to find out what our audience can expect from her session.

At YMS, you’ll be talking about the multi-dimensional Millennial man, why this specific area?

Millennials are often talked about as one cohort, but really they are quite diverse, encompassing many different subgroups and perspectives. Much of today’s gender conversation focuses on women’s experiences, which is terrific and so important but there is not yet as much open dialogue about what has changed for men. In much of our recent research, we’ve heard men expressing feeling boxed in and misrepresented by the culture around them, so we set out on our own exploration of men’s experience of gender.

What are the main pre-conceptions that brands have about men?

There are still a lot of stereotypical, outdated depictions of men in the media. We’ve found that 2 in 3 Millennial men feel that brands treat men the same way they always have, when in reality, men are changing and they’re changing quickly. Men today are filling a wider range of roles in their lives and are expressing a wider range of gender traits to succeed in these different roles. Brands however, are not yet communicating to all these different dimensions that men are expressing, and are not all yet fully realizing the extent to which men are more engaged consumers now, which brings a number of new product and messaging considerations and opportunities.

What do brands need to take note of when marketing to men?

Their complexity. While some brands are starting to speak to men as dads and nurturers, most brands are still not reflecting the full range of gender traits that men experience and are expressing with increased fluidity. And when brands play with new marketing territory, they often do so through humor. While Millennial men (like Millennial women) enjoy laughing at themselves, and even tend to use humor to cope a lot of the time, they also want brands to take them seriously and reflect that they do through more serious, thought provoking depictions.

What impact does this group have on society, the economy and other things?

Millennials are proud of progress that’s been made around more freedom and acceptance of gender expression and I have no doubt that they’ll continue to move the conversation forward and continue to break down more boundaries around traditional gender norms.

Millennial men are different than men before them. In careers, they are looking for personal fulfillment and exploring helping professions from teaching to nursing to counseling. In relationships, they’re more emotionally expressive. As consumers, they are actively engaged from grocery shopping to retail. The implications of their evolved gender identity is huge for brands in many industries, especially those that have historically been focusing more singularly on a female target.

With so much debate about gender equality especially in the Millennial demographic, have you found anything interesting in your research on this?

Not surprisingly, our sample perceives more gender equality today. A vast majority of the Millennials in our sample feel that more gender equality benefits both men and women, however our sample also feels that along with more freedom and room for positive change, equality also brings more complexity (since there’s more opportunity), which means a more complicated identity to develop and navigate. So in that sense, they feel they’re making progress around gender equality, and are looking for culture around them, including brands and the media to help support them in transcending historical gender boundaries.

What brands do you think are doing a great job when it comes to marketing to men?

This is a great question, and one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. From my perspective, not many brands have it right yet. Many are focusing on speaking to men as fathers, which is a great start, but I’m not seeing many brands reflecting the true complexity of male identity across different roles in their lives. I would say that Millennial men gravitate towards brands that allow customization to help them be their true multidimensional selves and inspire forward momentum – like Nike and of course Apple.

And finally, what are you most looking forward to at YMS?

Listening to others and participating in the conversation -- + the venue – great space!

Slaine Jenkins of Insights Strategy Group will be speaking at YMS NYC on May 20th, talking about how to market to the multi-dimensional millennial man. Register for the event here.

Image: JD Hancock