This article is part of our content series with Brandwatch, one of the most powerful social media monitoring and analytics tool used by pioneering brands and agencies all over the world, and a Global Supporting Sponsor of Social Media Week.

This article is a continuation of the part series we started prior on the reasons why some brands are getting it all wrong in their approach towards marketing to Millennial as their standard for shifting in marketing videos.


Are Millennial and Baby Boomers really that different?

Millennial own more devices than generations before them. Of course they do. Baby boomers today owned more than they did a decade ago too.

Millennial want to engage with brands. Also true, and technology has enabled all demographics to engage with brands more than ever before.

Research has shown that Millennial care about the environment. They care about social issues like same-sex marriage. They expect brands to give back to society and not just make profits. They expect brands to be there when they have a complaint.


All of these things may be valid, but they simply represent wider social trends.

None of them are unique to Millennial, and talking about targeting them shouldn’t just be a shortcut for brands to ‘get with the times’.

Doing these things can be very valuable, but they aren’t a kind of silver bullet for commercial success either. Targeting Millennial is not an effective strategy if generating revenue is the only goal.


Consider the Baby Boomers; the over 50s. Baby Boomers own 63% of all wealth in the US.

At 111 million strong, Boomers are the largest consumer-age demographic in the United States, far exceeding Gen X’s 61 million and Millennial’ 75 million.

Baby boomers get 10% of brands’ marketing dollars, but provide more than 50% of national consumption. Millennial, meanwhile, get more than 50% of marketing budgets, yet provide a much smaller fraction of revenue.

Essentially, any brand talking about targeting Millennial is really ensuring they’re prepared for what’s next. It’s about working out what shifts are happening, and being ready for them.
There’s the idea that the next generation of consumers aren’t influenced much by advertising, for example.

Only 1% of Millennial surveyed said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. According to HubSpot, among countless others, authenticity is also increasingly important.


This shouldn’t translate as ‘let’s target Millennial’ by using emoji and speaking like a child.

Those people don’t want to call up a brand and have a conversation. What it means is that expectations are changing, and brands will need to adjust to stay relevant in the long term.


It means maintaining an active and responsive social customer care program, or having transparency processes in place.

As Louis V, strategy planner at a major finance and media brand puts it: “they’re engaged with the corporate climate. They’re engaged with all these different things that we would have narrowly written off had we not been paying attention to. And missing out on these things as they’re bubbling up is how you lose relevance as a brand.”

People aren’t buying more cars just because you’re using emoji

So if targeting Millennial is really just about preparing for the future and preventing getting left behind, what can brands do when they think about targeting in a way that carries more meaning?

In terms of targeting, for reasons we’ve been through, Millennial isn’t a particularly helpful term to be talking about.

Instead, brands should be talking about gardeners with Snapchat or Pinterest accounts. Or people that own tablets that also like NFL. Or people that drink soda twice a day and live in New England.

There’s so much more nuance and potency in targeting at this level of granularity than sweeping terms like Millennial, Generation Y or Baby Boomers can ever offer.

These are the kinds of groups that can be targeted with meaning, and not only have a genuine impact upon the nature of a marketing strategy, but will also transcend the buckets we’ve created to label the world.

So the next time you’re having a conversation about targeting in marketing, please think more about who it is you’re trying to target, and why you’re trying to do it.

Identifying audiences, and finding a way to connect with these consumers in a way that’s relevant to your brand, is the most effective way to think about targeting – and if more marketers take this advice, then I hope it means I can finally turn my snake people plugin off.

Joel Windels

VP Inbound Marketing, Brandwatch

Joel Windels is VP, Inbound Marketing at Brandwatch, one of the top ten fastest growing companies in the UK. Brandwatch’s technology has been built to listen to conversations happening across the web, and allows the world’s leading brands to make sense of them. Before joining Brandwatch in 2011, Joel worked in marketing in the videogames sector, working with publishers like Sony, EA and Disney.

SOURCE: Social Media Week 2016

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