The Problem of Conventional Wisdom when Targeting Millennial Consumers

There’s a lot written about how the behaviours of people born in and after the 1980s will require businesses to change the way they deliver products and services. Conventional wisdom is that Millennials reject everything favoured by the preceding generations such as talking on the phone, owning a car and living in suburban homes. When it comes to interacting with businesses, it’s said that Millennials prefer doing everything using social media through their phone.

A lot of the ‘thought leadership’ on Millennials is based on a priori assumptions instead of actual data. For example in 2014 there was a new story everyday about Millennials shunning cars because they couldn’t drive and Facebook at the same time and that ride sharing was a better substitute. A year later it turns out the Millennials are buying more cars than the preceding Gen Xers.

So, let’s have a look at some of the “conventional wisdom”:

  • Myth or reality? Millennials don’t use email.
    Myth. According to a study by Adobe, published in the Harvard Business Review, Millennials check email more often than anyone else.
  • Myth or reality? Millennials don’t like calling customer support Myth. While Millennials don’t like calling for support (who does?), they will do so as much as Boomers if they think it will lead to a quick resolution.
  • Myth or reality? Millennials don’t have the attention span for anything more than 140 characters.
    Myth. Millennials consume more long form content (books and news) than do Gen Xers. They are more informed consumers and want that long form marketing content and support documentation.

The next time the topic of engaging your millennial customers comes up, perhaps it’s better not to lump generational cohorts in the same technological competence buckets. Think instead about the rise of the Digital Consumer, which probably skews to younger generations but does not automatically exclude or include anyone. Digital Consumers live their lives online while at work, at home and on the go. The best way to engage them is to make sure you are living alongside them online.