Playing the generation game, a Millennial perspective

Playing the Generation Game, a ‘Millennial’ Perspective

6th January, 2018 by George Peckham

Do you know what’s the worst about being a millennial? You’re always being called a millennial… No matter what the topic, generation references or ages will at some point creep up into any conversation.

So the aim of this post is to consider if it might be time to consign generation titles to the annals of PR and marketing history – or at the very least to encourage us all to pause and think long and hard about if and when they are really necessary.

For example, there is one highly respected business magazine in the area of marketing that has already made it clear that they consider catch-all target audience phrases like ‘millennials’ both lazy, too general and – sin of sins – increasingly unimaginative and over-used.

Yes, there may be some general characteristics that we so-called millennials exhibit that make us a key target for brand X or Y. For example, it may be true that the majority of us just love our avocado brunches. And it’s fair to say that many of us do tend to constantly have our heads down in the street looking at the latest Instagram Live video from our favourite influencers.

Yet, despite our similarities, Coca-Cola famously captured the idea of millennials (sorry, I mean ‘young adults’) being individuals with its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign, coming up with the brilliantly simple idea of putting 250 of the most popular names on their bottles. Not only did this campaign boost sales of their soft drinks by 2% in the U.S. but, more importantly, it gave young people a new connection with the brand without overtly and obviously targeting them as a catch-all marketing group. It no doubt also appealed to older consumers, who also liked the fun and personalised nature of the campaign.

Another example of a campaign with widespread appeal is the #THISGIRLCAN campaign, a project to remove the fear of judgement by others when participating in exercise. The campaign creatively used a tailored algorithm that sent encouraging tweets to women who were themselves tweeting about exercise or fear of hitting the gym. The campaign – funded by the National Lottery and designed by Sport England – had mammoth appeal across a wide range of consumers with incredible results.

And although undoubtedly aimed predominantly at younger, social media savvy women, more than 1.6m women of all ages have started exercising as a result of the campaign, with its video content  being watched more than 37 million times on Facebook and YouTube – both platforms with a wide age-range of users.

In other words, by not overtly falling into the millennial trap, both Coca-Cola and Sport England scored a hit with wide audiences.

Food for thought? We certainly think so.