Welcome to the Age of Millennials.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the generation defined in the public consciousness – rightly or wrongly – by smartphones, social media and selfies, overtook Baby Boomers in numbers in 2016.
And yet, businesses, academics and the media continue to struggle to define who Millennials truly are, what they believe and how to market to them. So, beyond the buzz and an apparent propensity to live, breathe and shop online, who are they really – and are they really even one thing?
LoyaltyOne Global Solutions recently explored the subject with “Debunking the Millennial Myth: Data Over Demographics,” offering an overview of millennial consumers in 2017.
In our recent segmentation of U.S. shoppers, we explored the types of shopper personas that emerge when we exclude demographic differences like age and gender and concentrate solely on behavioral data. What we discovered was illuminating, if not a little surprising: beyond age, so-called Millennials are far from being one cohesive group at all. In fact, they fall into a multiplicity of groups with a variety of shopping preferences and attitudes.
In particular, as we crunched the numbers, three key myths emerged:
- Millennials are marketers' most valuable demographic – nope. While their numbers and purchasing power may be on the rise, Baby Boomers still account for nearly half of all income earned, while Millennials bring in less than a quarter. In other words, Millennials may be the earners of tomorrow, but tomorrow is not here just yet – opportunities that are more lucrative still lie with Baby Boomers and the often-forgotten Generation X.
- Millennials have different needs and expectations – sort of. It's true that Millennials rely more on their smartphones to shop than Baby Boomers do and they are certainly more at ease shopping online but, while the modes of communication might vary, both generations appreciate similar experiences when it comes to shopping, seeking out information, convenience and helpful customer service.
- Millennials are a cohesive group – smh. This misconception more than any other has the most far-reaching effects for marketers. Because viewing Millennials as one group of like-minded individuals risks missing very real differences – in age and life stage. For instance, only 18% of younger Millennials are employed full-time, while 66% of older Millennials are. This then impacts the allocation of disposable income, and tech-savviness.
So, if Millennials are more complex and dynamic than the caricature we tend to see, where exactly does that leave marketers? How do they reach, and build relationships and loyalty with this increasingly powerful generation of shoppers moving forward?
The answer lies beyond demographics. Taking a careful look at shopping preferences and attitudes, and leveraging a variety of powerful segmentation techniques and data sources. In other words, the future of customer engagement with Millennials will not focus on age but on something deeper: customer-centric loyalty programs that get to the heart of how individuals live and shop.
To get a clearer picture of Millennials – and all your customers – download Debunking the Millennial Myth: Data Over Demographics, a thought-provoking report from LoyaltyOne Global Solutions.