While researching this topic I noticed a slight difference in the definition of the group Millennials. WJSchroer defines them as born between 1977-1994. Pew Research says this of Millennials in the chart below = Generation Y (1981 -1998).
- McCrindle Research Center defines Millennials as being 1980-1994 and “Gen Z” (i.e. post-millennials) as being 1995-2009
- Strauss and Howe use 1982 as the Millennials’ starting birth year and 2004 as the last birth year.
We use the term Millennial very liberally in 2016. They are seen as the group that will decide the future of many things, including Television. We constantly hear that Millennials do not consume TV like the other groups before them. They have a dislike of pay-TV services and do not have Televisions in their homes (Errrm! What if they live with people of a previous generation?). Is all of this noise around Millennials a true gauge of the future of the world of business? I have a feeling that if you were to look at those born in 1981 and those born in 1998 you would see an enormous difference in their perception of the world and how they function in it. Millennials are not all born equal.
‘Millennials’, like the Gen X group, is just too broad a group for it to mean anything. It has become a psychobabble term for writers and speakers to put some credibility on a particular target market, to justify their reasoning for their theories on how to win them over…It gives them kudos, and we do not question. I am however, questioning the use of this term as an accurate or relevant marketing justification.
We use this pigeon-holing method because we need factual evidence i.e. numbers to support our ideas and conclusions on modern consumption. e.g. Millennials don’t do this; Millennials don’t do that, and by the way here is a pie chart to prove it. These Millennial statistics worry me because they can easily deliver misinformation, they do not go deep enough to find the real cause of a generation behavioural shift. I just read a fantastic article on this subject by Laura Marsh @lmlauramarsh – The Myth of the Millennial as Cultural Rebel | New Republic. In it, she talks about reasons why Millennials car share, flatshare, dont buy houses, marry late etc. She states that ‘Millennials in the USA are feeling the pain of lower living standards,’ which therefore naturally impacts their spending and attitude towards the world around them. Laura hits the nail on the head many times in this wonderfully written piece. She writes, … when headlines of “Millennials are killing the X industry” could just as easily read, “Millennials are locked out of the X industry.” There’s nothing like being told precarity is actually your cool lifestyle choice.”
Just to wrap this up – My argument is that Millennials are not any different than previous generations, other than they live in an era where technology has enormously changed the world they live in. In fact it has changed the world for all generations still living. I recently read that we have now reached the tipping point in society where technology is actually causing more unemployment than the creation of new jobs. This could be a life-event factor as Millennials have less disposable income. Millennials also choose to stay single longer. However they do have many ‘life-events’ just like everyone before them … So while they are young, adventurous, virile and sporty, why would they plonk themselves in front of a TV. I see a lot of them down the pub having fun, socialising or out playing sport. What I believe is that as they grow older Millennials settle down, get married, have babies, buy houses and eventually flop in front of the TV when tired after a hard day in the office. Marketing to them in that mode changes, but they are still considered somehow a different audience.
When you dig deeper, it is indeed revealing that there is a flaw in the narrative regarding the group we call the Millennials. The people who are killing industries with their non-conformist lifestyle.