4 ways to get it wrong with "Youth"

We're proud to present a guest blog post form #YMS16 NYC partner, Amy Henry from StrottmanAre you making these millennial marketing mistakes? Read on to find out:

Today’s marketers are virtually mesmerized by Millennials. Whether they belong to this coveted cohort or not, marketers often recognize that this group represents both the future mainstream, and simultaneously, the most individualized demographic “slice” in history (so far).

This anxiety to connect, coupled with a fear that Millennials are an elusive kind of species, has sometimes proven to make marketers move towards extremes instead of recognizing the reality of today’s youngest adults. We’re not naming names, but here are a few of the biggest faux pas we’ve seen, and, of course, some practices to promote instead.

1. Treat them like kids.

We don’t debate that today’s Millennials define adulthood very differently than generations of the past. They not only embrace playful practices – scooter to the office, spend the weekend at a color run – but they also experience “adult fatigue” earlier in the life/work cycle than in the past.

Treating them like adolescents, without acknowledging their shifting needs, tastes and responsibilities can risk making them feel disrespected. Instead, embrace their playful side, but work hard to find the sweet spot where the openness and freedom of childhood meets up with their adult mindset.

2. Follow the drama.

In theory, data makes for sound stories. But the problem with “Millennial Mania” is that there is a never-ending amount of statistics that suggest the Millennial narrative. It’s important to keep in mind that this data only matters when it’s placed into context. For example, when making generational claims, what were Gen Xers like at the same age.  When it comes to beliefs and values, are a vocal or overly represented few suggesting a more extreme point of view than applies to the whole group? Instead, resist the temptation to quote the most extreme stats and seek out subtleties for the most meaningful insights into today’s youth.

3. Assume they’re all “pre-“ family.

This “don’t” has two downsides…First, many Millennials are in fact parents. More and more of them are prioritizing kids over marriage. These younger parents consider themselves “youth” in many ways, but juggle very different demands on their time and their focus.

Second, many Millennials will follow the trend of staying childless by choice. And Millennials are more likely to resent brands that assume that they are just waiting for their adult lives to begin, when they have, by their own definition, already begun. Instead, consider cohort influence (i.e., what being a Millennial means to their mindset), but don’t stop there.

4. Forget about physical – they’re all digital.

Millennials status as “digital natives” has been oft-cited and invoked to suggest that Millennials no longer have a need for the tangible, the physical, the 3D. But we know that Millennials have strong and complicated opinions when it comes to digital…Sure, they grew up with and utilize more tech tools than generations before them, but they have also embraced artisanal approaches to just about everything.

Whether it’s the Maker Movement, a re-embracing of cooking crafting and even coloring, or creating of any type, today’s Millennial know that matter matters…Instead of ignoring their non-digital side, seek to connect with it – enhancing your digital offerings with IRW experiences and considering the need for an online, on-screen application of the product or offering you have.

Amy will be speaking at Youth Marketing Strategy NYC, 21-22 September 2016.

Get your tickets for YMS NYC 2016 here.