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Targeting Millennials as a Marketing Segment – Great Idea or Sweeping Generalisation?

Over the last couple of months, I have seen a lot of articles and blogs focused on targeting ‘Millennials’ as a marketing segment – there are definitely split views on this, so I wanted to explore it further.

A quick google search brings up a plethora of information on so-called ‘Millennials’ or ‘Generation Y’, and not a lot of it is great reading… some descriptions include ‘entitled’ and ‘lazy’ and we seem to get a lot of abuse for ‘killing’ a whole range of industries including beer, marriage and the film industry (apparently!) Typically, a ‘Millennial’ is someone that was born between the 1980’s and early 2000’s – so that’s a pretty broad age range right? This brings me on to today’s discussion, should brands be targeting ‘Millennials’ as a segment?

When it comes to Marketing, ‘Millennials’ have supposedly changed the game, they are ignoring traditional marketing channels, such as television and focusing more on social media and influencer marketing. This may be true, for the majority – but surely such sweeping comments cannot be made for 2 billion people?! I do not think it is possible to bundle billions of people together, just because of the year in which they were born. In a time where personalisation is key, a generalisation such as this is never going to work because we are all so different!

As most marketers know, if your segmentation is wrong, your targeting will be wrong too – so why are brands still targeting ‘Millennials’ as a segment?

Take for example Air France’s new ‘Millennial’ airline, Joon. According to Air France, ‘Joon is especially aimed at a young working clientele, the millennials (18-35 year-olds), whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology.’. Even the uniform of the flight attendants will be ‘inspired by the new fashion codes, basic and chic.’ . Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but when I am looking to book a flight, I am more bothered about price and quality, as opposed to what the flight attendants will be wearing – so as a Millennial, I don’t feel this is targeted at me at all. I would say this is more of a stereotype than a segment.

On the other hand, a lot of Telco brands are also exploring youth brands, Vodafone, for example, have recently launched ‘VOXI’ a youth sub-brand targeting under 25s, and offering unlimited data for social media apps and Three have also launched a ‘Go Binge’ plan which offers free Netflix, Deezer and Soundcloud streaming (both are incredibly appealing ideas.) There are some great benefits to these offerings but again, I do not necessarily think it needs to be age-related, as I am sure my Mum uses Facebook more than me – so something like this would not only be relevant to me at 23 but also to people of 30, 40 and 50+.

To summarize, I believe there are some fantastic offerings and propositions in the market at the moment (take Vodafone and Three for example!) but should ‘Millennials’ be targeted as one colossal segment? I don’t think so, we may all sit within a certain age bracket but the majority of us could not be more different from one another.

Written by Enya Haughey, Consultant – Digital and Online Marketing

LinkedIn: Enya Haughey

Twitter: @Enya_RedCat RedCat Digital

Facebook: RedCat Digital

Google+: RedCat Digital

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