At a Glance – Millennials

Hard to reach?

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are the bane of businesses across the scale. They are difficult to connect with, seemingly apathetic towards brands and infamously five times more expensive to reach with advertising. This would be less of an issue if they didn’t make up such a large proportion of the population – in the U.S., they amount to 25%. What makes it even more difficult to engage with millennials is the fact that although everybody recognises the problem they pose to commerce, it’s still uncertain as to who they really are. Which people are classed as millennials, and why are they so important?

Although there’s a lot of debate over who the term millennials actually refers to, a general definition includes anyone born between 1980 and the early 2000s. Therefore, a millennial is essentially a young adult within the age range of around 15 to 35. Marketers know how to engage with younger children and older, loyal customers, but teenagers and young adults are less susceptible to ad campaigns. In fact, they seem to reject them. They present a challenge for numerous industries, including automotive and housing, because they are notoriously unwilling to invest in these kinds of material possessions. They are also a challenge to social dynamics as they are more uninterested in early marriage and having children than their predecessors in Generation X, and demonstrate progressive tendencies. As businesses are so unsure of what makes millennials tick, they end up spending far more money on advertising in an attempt to target these difficult consumers. However, the recent success of Augmented Reality game Pokémon GO demonstrated that although it’s not easy to get millennials on board, it is possible – and on a mass scale. Another example of how to attract a millennial customer-base can be seen in the rise of new FinTech and InsurTech startups, which offer a combination of flexibility, personalisation and an aspect of ‘social good’.

Businesses will inevitably continue spending big chunks of their ad budgets in order to successfully reach millennials. The size of the global population aged between 15 and 35 is far too large to ignore, however by following the example of honest, individually-focused startups, established businesses may be able to persuade millennials to engage with their product and brand.