According to demographers, the millennial group can also be called Generation Y, a group whose generational birth began in 1982 and ended sometime in the mid-1990s. They’re a scary, plotting group, who have maliciously killed dozens of honest, hard-working businesses. They’ve killed beer. They’ve killed Applebee’s. They’ve killed credit cards. They’re a generation dedicated to the death of social norms, and the rise of a tyrannical technological age. Want to know something scarier than that? You’re reading a set of words written by a millennial. That’s right. I, Tucker Partridge, copywriter for Engine E-Commerce am a millennial. Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! Now, as a millennial, I feel it’s my duty to kill your sense of security. Prepare for a difficult truth: millennials aren’t killing your businesses — your business sucks and is killing itself.
Hyperbolic, clickbait journalism would have you believe that Generation Y is systematically seeking and destroying everything you love. I hate to break it to you, but that’s just not the case. If you’re in business, you probably adhere to the principles of free markets — consumers determine who succeeds in business. Well, if an entire generation of consumers have decided not to consume your product, isn’t that on you? That’s what I find hilarious about terrible sites describing millennials as “business killers.” Businesses aren’t evolving with the times, and are dying. Why is beer dying? Because Bud Lite is terrible, and millennials have become the first generation to admit it. Why is Applebee’s dying? Because their food is warmed up Kid Cuisine, except that’s insulting to Kid Cuisine. Why are credit cards dying? Because we were raised in a financial crisis that we didn’t cause and are wary of an industry that caused the collapse of the U.S. financial system.
Millennials are just another generation. We aren’t some indecipherable monolith of anti-consumerism. It’s just another group of people that businesses need to figure out. So, to avoid being perceived as an old man, shaking his fist at a cloud because of “these dern kids,” I’ve got some tips to help you get started on marketing to millennials.
1. Use Different Media
The rise of streaming has provided a bevy of content across a multitude of platforms. Everyone is on Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube now. What’s the problem here? If all of your advertising is going to television commercials, Millenials will never see the ads! Advertising on television is about to become the equivalent of advertising during radio broadcasts of The Lone Ranger. No one will see the ads if you don’t diversify your media portfolio. Quite frankly, it might help you out, because ads on Youtube are way cheaper than ads on television.
2. Don’t Be Fake
Millennials are smarter than you think and are wary of blatant corporate sellouts. Brands that are honest, and have something to say will fare far better than brands who don’t. Want to know why boutiques, mom and pop coffee shops, and local restaurants are succeeding right now? They’re honest and open. They’re trustworthy. It’s way easier to trust an owner you can meet in person than it is to trust the CEO of a multi-billion dollar organization. We were raised to be skeptical of everything on the internet, and our comedy culture is self-aware. If you’re not being honest, it will easily be seen.
3. Get Online
“I don’t do social media” is a refrain I hear from a lot of people of a certain age. The ethics of social media can absolutely be discussed at another time but, to be matter of fact, everyone is on social media now. If you aren’t using that space to advertise, you’re going to have a bad time. Like I said with the tip about streaming services, no one is watching television ads. People will, however, notice your ad in an Instagram feed. With the tools the networks provide, you’d be foolish to not give affordable, easy social media advertising a go.
4. Stand for Something
The artificiality of the internet has been good for something — it taught millennials to be genuine. Generation Y cares about causes, and brands that embrace a cause are much more likely to succeed than brands who don’t. What do TOMS, Patagonia, and Nike all have in common? They took stands and their sales exploded. That’s because millennials are aware of the profits corporations bring in, and are encouraged when profitable businesses share a piece of the pie with those who don’t get any pie.
5. Treat Them Like People
The beginning of this article ridiculed articles bemoaning the fact that “Millennials are doing ____.” We’re online and of purchasing age now, and we don’t like being patronized. I personally remember every brand that has posted some demeaning content or used my generation as a scapegoat, and I don’t buy from them. I’m sure I’m not alone. If you just treat millennials, who are people, like people, they’ll be like any other consumer. Maybe the customer isn’t always right, but they can at least be treated with decency.
No, millennials aren’t killing everything. We’re just another generation of people. Previous generations have shaken their fists at every younger generation since the dawn of time, but time and time again, they are revealed to be foolish. Progress is not bad. Don’t you think when the first generation complained about “These kids and their darn fire and their wheels” could benefit from fire and the wheel? Your business could benefit from millennials too. So no, millennials aren’t a scary, indecipherable force. We’re just people, and that’s perfectly okay.