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We need to talk: A plea from a ‘Millennial’

Next time you want to use ‘Millennial’ in a meeting, a strategy or a report, stop and think: Who are you really talking about?

Next time you want to use ‘Millennial’ in a meeting, a strategy or a report, stop and think: Who are you really talking about?

Fellow comms people, we need to talk. About Millennials. Even writing the word sends a shiver down my spine.

As soon as I entered the workplace, people called me a ‘Millennial’ – a term no one could explain, but everyone used anyway. As much as I appreciate we need ways to define our audiences, we run the risk of alienating groups based on this sweeping generalisation.

Google the word ‘Millennial’ and look at the news articles from the past week. You’ll find a ton of completely contrasting articles and it’s pretty difficult to identify a common thread.

The general consensus is that ‘Millennial’ includes everyone born from the early 80s to late 90s. This is a huge bracket and this is where we’re coming unstuck. We discussed how fundamentally flawed it is as a term more than five years ago. Yet here we are, half a decade later and we’re still tarring everyone with the same brush.

Reinventing the wheel

I’m not saying we need to redefine the generation – it does have its uses. But there needs to be another level to analysing audiences.

If we can’t look deeper into our target audiences’ values, how can we be sure that our work will resonate?

The game has changed massively for generation definitions; long gone is the time when everyone was on a relatively level playing field over a decade gap. Recent technological advancements mean that even a three-year gap between consumers can have a huge impact. A perfect example of this is Musical.ly – a 14-year old is unlikely to have an interest in this but speak to an 11-year old and they’re all over it.

We need our campaigns to consider wider factors such as PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal & Environmental), so we can truly understand our target and fine-tune our approach accordingly.

As comms experts we need to educate and encourage the correct use of the term, leading from our industry outwards.

Stop saying words

Finally, I want to share some of the phrases that infuriate me and Millennials across the globe:

‘You don’t know what it was like before the internet’ – as a matter of fact, we do – especially those at the older end of the Millennial bracket.

‘You can deal with the digital things, you’re a Millennial’ – My Grandma has Facebook and Instagram so there’s no excuse!

‘You’re down with the kids because you’re a Millennial’ – Firstly, no one should ever use the phrase ‘down with the kids’. Secondly, at the youngest end of the bracket are 21-year olds, who don’t want to be considered a child by the brands they buy from.

Respectfully yours, Jessica, a 23-year old who is more than just a Millennial. #JustSaying

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