Thinking everyone born between 1988 and 2000 fits in the same cluster is a very costly mistake
do the job, research, learn about your target audience not just millennial it
The task at hand is building a relation between Brand and Market. The problem to be solved is the same: Communicate the existence of a product or a service to a specific audience.
To sell something a brand must find a way to communicate with its target audience.
At the end of World War II the United States Census Bureau needed a way to qualify and quantify the generation born during the years that followed the end of the war, from 1946 to 1964. The need to build a particular segment for this generation was to follow children which a military father in a war scared nation.
On the positive side, it was a generation with a strong economy around and a lot of new technology brought on by inventions during the war effort. So Baby Boomers became how we call the generation born after the war.
Marketers and advertisers got hooked by the catchy name and loved how naming specific generations sounded when selling a strategy or a campaign. So they called Generation "X" those that were born between 1965 and 1986 and now Millennial is how we cluster a generation of people born from 1987 to 2000.
But Baby Boomers were not segmented as a target audience to be more effective at selling them stuff, even if that were the case, it made more sense to study a generation with that specific nation-world wide background that it does clustering whole generations into a same bag.
Communication problem did not change, there were a lot of new and different products and brands, and Television became a New communication's Media. By the end of the 1950's every family had a TV at home. The appearance of the TV is more of a disruptor than a date someone was born.
What we need to know is The Brand: what are it's values, it's philosophy they way it sees the world. The Product: What is the main attribute who it's stronger competitors it's strengths and weaknesses and The Market: Who are they, where are they and what are they doing. How do they communicate what are they talking about. What worries them and what are their needs.
A good example should come from a world wide recognized brand and one that has been on the market for more than 200 years, so let's talk about Coca Cola.
This has been Coca Cola's Communication platform since 1886:
1886 — Drink Coca-Cola and enjoy it.
1999 — Enjoy Coca Cola.
1939 — Coca Cola has the taste thirst goes for.
2016 — Coca Cola Taste The Feeling
1979 — Have a Coke and a smile
2009 a 2015 — Open Happiness
Enjoying Coke's taste and smiling has been the message from the start, by the way, that's branding!
So what changed? Not the need of Coca Cola to sell it's product, neither the need from people to enjoy a Coke and smiling.
What changed was the way the message is transmitted. In the 1800's audiences were reached by street advertising and POP presence, by the end of the 1900's magazine and radio were added to the mix and by the mid 1950's television was king. Today Coke is present in Social Media at everybody's finger tips.
Who are they talking to? What is the message? both stayed the same. The magic comes from the way the Brand knows it's target audience. They know who they are and what they do and they have great storytelling to convey the message: Enjoy life with great taste.
Fitting whole generations of people in one bag is as much as believing in horoscopes and good luck, just because someone was born in a certain month in a certain day makes them the same sign which means they behave and feel the same sounds as crazy as calling millennials millions of people because of the span of time they were born in.
Geographic factors, family and economy is important data to know. Assuring that millenials are nature lover's with green minds while at the same time being ego and money centric is not wanting to do the job. Do the research know the market.
New technologies make communication easier and faster, every time since forever. Back when printing was invented it changed everything, along came radio and everything changed and TV was a revolution. Now we can tell our story in real time to the whole wide world, all new again!
And every New generation is referred to as more informed, more concious and better prepared.
Think about the Renascence, Humanism, and Illustration. Not everyone born during the Renascence were great artists, same thing with people born during the Illustration not all of them were revolution fighters. Most people were concerned in making a living, eating, not getting sick and taking care of their families. Of course these social movements change the world and how we live but the problem is still Letting a specific group of people know about a specific service or a product. Even know in the middle of the third industrial revolution connecting a brand with it's target is the problem to be solved.
Not every person born at the end of the 1980's are the same, they are not a mass to which brands talk the same way at. Yes we all are immersed in a digital world as has been the case every time. People listening at radio by the 1900's were not just those born between 1850 and 1900 grandmas loved the radio too and when television entered every home babies and grandparents were all watching!
So now we all are in Social Media with our phones at hand. Communication is in real time but everybody has access to it people that were born in 1940's to 2016 are in more or less measure digitally communicating. Marketers and advertisers have the same job as always: Know the Product, Know the Brand and Know the Audience.
We are not going to find a whole generation having a latte at a Starbucks with an iPhone in their hands. Some of them are drinking Tea at home with a Galaxy. Soe are wearing Nikes but some others identify more with Converse. There are hundreds of them that are great Entrepreneurs and are starting up their own company but most are employees. Some love UBER but millions use the subway or ride bikes or walk.
Human Beings for generations are trying to satisfy their basic needs, having a good time and smile more than they cry.