Posted by Zach Cochran, VP/Media Director, Door Number 3

There are certain things you just don't hear people say. If you ask someone what they want to drink, they don't answer with "liquid." If someone asks you what you're having for lunch the answer isn't "food." You don't hear anyone say they are going hunting for “animals." So why do marketers keep saying they are targeting “millennials?”

We get it, it's a buzzword and it's everywhere

But let's look at this more closely. Millennials, as defined by Pew Research, are anyone aged 18-34 (as of 2015). That is an enormous age range to target.  However, it's not just age that should be considered. The millennial generation is also the largest generation out there with 74.9 million people. There are very few brands that can appeal to an audience of that size, much less one with such vast behavioral gaps.

Beyond the size, there are other factors to consider

Full disclosure, I fall into the tail-end of the millennial generation at 35 years old. You know who else falls into this generation? My 19 year old cousin, who is living at home this summer, loves Justin Bieber, has no clue who Molly Ringwald is and thinks I'm an "old guy" (seriously). We are not only in the same generation, but in the same family and we could not be more different. In fact, the only thing we really have in common is that we think the other's music of choice is terrible (no offense Biebster). Yes, she is active on social media, just like me. Does that mean we both need to be placed in the same audience bucket? Absolutely not, right? One of us is married, owns a home and has kids. The other lives in a dorm, went to prom just over a year ago and is going to be a sophomore in college.

No brand should be targeting both of us

Separately, each of us can be valuable to certain marketers. There are brands she will be perfect for, who want nothing to do with me, and vice versa. We simply have different interests, behaviors, motivations and buying processes. That's why you must bucket your millennial audience. Who is it that your brand is really trying to reach? Because only in the rarest of circumstances is it "millennials."  Rather, doesn’t it make sense to segment that large group into an audience that shows the right interests and behaviors that makes sense to your brand? It would certainly be more cost effective and allow the creative to be more influential on their buying decisions, because it’s more targeted. 

Go with what you know

We know how hard it can be to narrow down your target audience or audiences. It takes research, knowledge, the understanding of your brand's pain points and more. It can be a daunting challenge but it pays off with a more effective and impactful marketing plan that generates ROI. Try starting your segmentation with any current customer demographics you may have. Demographic and geographic information is a good starting point for segmentation. Of course building an audience persona is more than just age, gender and location.

Get in their head

You’ll also need to understand the behaviors, psychographics and the purchase motivation in order to impact their purchase plans. Having an idea of the brand-to-customer experience can help identify where the individual is in the buying cycle and what can be done to move that customer to conversion.If you’re not currently set up with a platform that captures data on your converter try customer and prospect interviews and focus groups. Talk to them about what influenced their purchase, what type of comparison shopping they may have done, how long the buying cycle lasted and what touch points were most impactful from the consumer perspective. Once you have a grasp of the motivations that are influencing various segments you can adapt your marketing plans to engage and target by segment. 

So, if you need some help segmenting your audience or just want to talk radical 80s movies, click here.

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