Your shout: Stop saying millennial

When was the last time you met 75.4 million people who are all the same, asks Hayley Lawrence, director of events at agency Brand and Deliver.

Hayley Lawrence, director of events at agency Brand and Deliver, discusses millennials
Hayley Lawrence, director of events at agency Brand and Deliver, discusses millennials

Millennials. They want everything for free and think offices should have slides. Bloody millennials, am I right? Of course not. But for every silly stereotype about the 18-34 generation you can be sure there’s a brand sincerely looking to tap into it. When "because Snapchat" is your rationale for a campaign it might be worth taking a step back.

Let’s get one thing clear: the age group is a lucrative market. You should absolutely target it. But if you’re lumping 18-year-old girls in the same market as 34-year-old men you’re missing a trick. In fact, 18-year-old girls aren’t exactly identical to 18-year-old boys.

No, what I’m saying is the word millennial needs to go. Because when you talk about millennials, you mostly just mean everyone.  According to a Pew Research Center analysis of US Census Bureau data people aged 18-34 now make up 34% of the workforce, overtaking Gen-Xers to become the largest in America. And as of April 2016 they’re also America’s largest generation, with 75.4 in the population. While that data is from America it’s not unreasonable to suggest there’ll be a similar pattern here in the UK.

It’s not going to stop there, either. PwC estimates that millennials will make up 50% of the workforce by 2020. (You’ll even find people suggesting that number will climb to 75% by 2025 but good luck finding a reliable source for it.)

So how do you engage the largest generation in one fell swoop?

In a word: Events. In a few more words: For a generation who’ve mostly accepted it’s far less likely they’ll own a house, they might as well enjoy the cash they’ve got. It’s experience millennials value and if something is brought to life they’ll go. You think people are paying serious money to go to Secret Cinema to see the film itself? 

Those who fear young people are stuck online are ignoring the evidence that ‘access’ is everything. Events are far from a dying side of promoting your brand. No. They’re more vital than ever. Even if they’re only at those events to get content for social media, who cares?  People used to talk about what festival they’d go to that summer, now they talk about what festival they’re going to that weekend. The adult colouring craze helped the sale of printed books rise last year (while e-books fell) and tickets to see Harry Potter on stage are more sought after than a black-market kidney.

After all, what else are they going to fill their Snapchat stories with?

You could try and force engagement by adding a few reaction gifs and dank memes to your marketing plan or you could host an exciting event and let the social media create itself.

Hayley Lawrence is director of events at agency Brand and Deliver.

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