The Mistake You’re Making When Marketing to Millennials

by Jeff Miller
August 16, 2016

Think of your local Taco Bell commercials-

more than likely they feature a young, hip, 20-somethings out on the town, equipped with a fresh burrito in hand.

Taco Bell has been on the forefront of advertising to this age demographic, marketing itself to young Americans dining out on a budget. The message: You’re young, you’re cool, and you’re poor. We’re cheap, we’re tasty, and we’re hip. It’s working. Nationally, Taco Bell sales have increased 4% in the most recent quarter, blowing its competitors out of the water.

The current trend in advertising is targeting Millennials, evident on almost every television channel, news publication or website that we come across. But what does being a Millennial actually mean? This isn’t a narrow slice of our culture we’re talking about; it’s a twenty-year age range comprised of tens of millions of Americans. With such a wide margin, why have brands become so obsessed with winning over the “Millennial” audience? More importantly, why do brands think an 18-year-old girl and a 30-year-old man fall into the same sphere of marketing influence?

That’s not to say that an 18-year-old girl doesn’t have the same taste in food, music, movies or television shows as a 30-year-old man. But take into consideration the difference in vocabulary, the difference in education, the difference in income, the difference in culture… you get the picture. The circumstance calls for two completely different angles. The level of diversity in this particular generation is too broad to be pinned down to one comprehensive term.

Before boldly declaring your target audience as “Millennials,” take a step back—you are not Taco Bell. You need to critically think about whether or not your product appeals to Millennials. If your company provides funeral services or end-of-life planning… probably not. If your company provides fashionable phone cases that provide an extra boost of battery on-the-go… probably so.

Next, you’ll need to think about if your product and/or business appeals so broadly to a 16-32- year-old target market. You may want to do some research. Analytics platforms can offer insight and provide much-needed clarification on what kind of Millennial you actually are targeting, in comparison to what kind of Millennial you want to target.

When it comes to marketing to Millennials, the name of the game is “understanding”: understanding who your target is, understanding their interests, understanding that you will need to narrow yourself to a specific age range and ultimately understanding that you may be better off tackling a different generation.