I spent two days at the Millennial 20/20 conference this week. It was brilliantly informative, high on future gazing, light on navel guessing, and much more unwittingly retro than I would’ve predicted. With much discussion of QR codes, augmented reality, and the importance of social listening to inform your digital strategy. The panels were well moderated, in the main, and there were lots of brand side people giving really good insight in how they use social to build their businesses.
My main thought on leaving, was that I’m rather happy not to be a millennial. Although I display many millennial traits, such as frequent phone checking, communicating purely by text, and increasingly just by emojis(1). I prefer going to boutique, pay as you go, gyms like Barry’s Bootcamp, rather than the old school chains. During the week my food consumption fits around work and going the gym, at the weekend I make more of a meal of meals, which is, like, so millennial apparently(2).
My belaboured point is this. If you were to describe me by some aspects of my behaviour alone, I’d probably sound like a millennial, which I’m not. You’re probably thinking well yes, if you described only part of anyone’s behaviour it would be possible to get the wrong idea about them as a whole.
Which is funny as there’s a whole swathe of marketing, media and advertising people who are happy to ascribe an entire set of behaviours to you, based only he year of your birth.
Which is nuts.
It’s like doing marketing by star signs
But I’ve just experienced an awful lot of people telling an awful lot more people how to market and sell to 92 million people based on just that. After a day and a half, I started to feel rather patronised on their behalf.
And it’s not like they were talking about the bad aspects of being a millennial. Like they are a bunch of self-obsessed narcissists who think they are all special snowflakes. A lot of it was more prescriptive, such as Millennials prefer experiences to buying things, or they all go to Instagram for their fashion inspiration.
They all use Snapchat and emojis.
They don’t watch linear TV, ever.
Perhaps I’m more aware of it because of the industry I’m in, or because I”m on the outside of that generation so can be more subjective. Perhaps it’s because there’s just so much more stuff written about millennials and how they are so different.
Or perhaps the industry has gone mad.
The last session of the event was how to engage with generation hashtag. During it one of the panelists made a great point, “Brands forgot all about strategy when digital came along and got too caught up in the tactics.”
It seems that when millennials came along brands forgot all about targeting too.
- I think the emoji thing is a phase, for me at least.
2) Or normal for any person who works full time, has a longish commute, other stuff to do and can no longer kid themselves that Jamie’s 15 minute meals are feasible without employing a sous chef and kitchen porter.