The ongoing fashion in the marketing sector is to aim messaging towards the significant purchasing power held by millenials, but an analyst warned that this strategy will backfire if certain historical developments are not taken into account.
In his November 22 column for Canadian Business
, markets observer Bruce Philip cited a BMO Economics report that right now, those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s are earning more and enjoying a higher net worth than Baby Boomers were at the same point in their lives.
However, the inescapable fact that the oldest of the millenial generation is now dealing with the responsibilities of adulthood—such as home ownership—means that a more refined approach towards enticing them is needed.
“As fun as broad brushes are, there is a time in marketing for nuance—and if your business thinks in terms of households rather than individuals, this is it,” Philip wrote. “Thinking about consumers as generational cohorts can be a useful shorthand. But for marketers, its value has much more to do with shared experience than with birth year.”
Philip noted that millenials should not be treated as a monolithic entity, considering a historic event unique to their generation.
“[Occasionally], a great disturbance upends the tidy 20-year rhythm that defines generational cohorts. For millenials, that epoch began in 1993 with the birth of the commercial web,” he stated.
“Spend any real time with someone born in the early ’80s, and a different picture of who the leading-edge millenial is starts to emerge. Far from the digital natives who hijacked this generation’s identity, these people remember a time before the Internet.”
In particular, the rise of the “millenial mom” should provide ample food for thought among those who are planning to capture this market.
“Kids may dictate fashion, but 30-somethings buy homes. And the furniture and appliances to go in them. And the cars. And the groceries for growing families. Not only do they spend more, but the brand preferences they form tend to stick.”
“Millenial moms and their families are happy to affect the clothes, gadgets and selfies of their generation at large, but the worst mistake you could make is to dismiss them as merely older specimens of marketing’s favourite hothouse flowers. They are at least different, and at best vanguards of the kind of consumer all millennials may eventually become,” Philip concluded.
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