Why Millenials Aren’t Who You Think They Are

Brands need to understand the mindset and attitudes of the ever changing generation to be successful in their branding and advertising.


by Jeff Fromm, courtesy PSFK

A Quick Recap of The Facts

The word “Millennial” almost seems like a buzzword these days instead of a generational moniker. They’re all over the place, and you probably feel like you’ve heard all about Millennials by now. Barkley partnered with Boston Consulting Group and SMG to study the trends in a report called “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation.” If you know many of the trends then this short video isn’t really that bitchin’ so skip it.


Myth #1: Millennials Are a Homogenous Cohort

Our research led us to break down the Millennial cohort into six segments.  The six segments include: Hip-ennial, Millennial Mom, Anti-Millennial, Gadget Guru, Clean and Green Millennial and Old School Millennial.


Myth #2: Millennials Aren’t Influencing Your Sales Growth Today

The Millennial generation is comprised of 80 million people in the United States alone. As such, Gen Y already accounts for 21 percent of consumer discretionary spending. In other words, Millennials are pumping $1.3 trillion into the economy, according to Christine Barton from the Boston Consulting Group. And that number doesn’t even include the influence Millennials have on other generations when it comes to their purchases from technology to travel to restaurants and more.

Myth #3: Millennials Will Be Just Like Older Generations Once They Get Married

Millennials are more comfortable than earlier generations with marriage being a bond between two people—any two people. The latest research from Pew Research shows that 70 percent of Millennial support same-sex marriage.

However, the cohort is waiting longer to get married. The average age for getting married is now 28.6 for men and 26.6 for women. Adding onto that, 44 percent of Millennials think marriage is obsolete.  Only 35 percent of Boomers feel the same way.

We can draw a couple of conclusions from all of this. First, don’t assume that Millennials are getting married anytime soon. Second, when you’re showing them couples and families in your marketing, keep in mind that Millennials are comfortable with a lot more permutations than advertising has traditionally shown.

Myth #4: Brick and Mortar Stores Are Dead

Do Millennials love technology? Of course. In fact, Millennials are more than 2.5 times more likely than other generations to be early adopters of new social, mobile and digital technologies. But do they want to do all of their shopping online or on their mobile phone? Not at all. According to research by the Urban Land Institute, 48 percent of Millennials say they enjoy shopping in stores. However, going forward it may be important to connect the digital and the physical worlds in order to draw in Millennials and keep them coming.

Myth #5: The Traditional Drivers Of Brand Value Hold True

Not at all.


Millennials created a Participation Economy. In the Participation Economy, the definition of brand value has expanded to include “participative benefits.” This means that Millennials want to co-create the products and services you sell, the customer journey and the marketing and social media.  Too many brands only focus on the marketing and social media.

Further, Millennials want to share with their friends, many of whom are online. One of the top ways to get a Millennial to share their brand with others is to make them feel good when they buy it. Two of the most likely ways to create shareworthiness are either to disrupt the status quo and or to have a purpose.  Millennials love brands whose purpose (or “why,” if you prefer) inspires them.  The next Billion Dollar idea is likely in the upper right quadrant of the graph below.

participation Copyright© 2013 by Barkley. All rights reserved.


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