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PART 1: THE FALLACY OF THE MILLENNIAL

BY ROB MCGOWAN, STRATEGY DIRECTOR

Wikipedia contains the following opening description on its’ page about Millennials,

“Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation[1] or Generation Y, abbreviated to Gen Y) are the demographic cohort between Generation X and Generation Z. There are no precise dates for when the generation starts and ends. Demographers and researchers typically use the early 1980s as starting birth years and use the mid 1990s to the early 2000s as final birth years for the Millennial Generation.”

A review of other sources identifies that most cite a span of between 15 and 20 years, usually those born between mid-80s through to the early 00s. For the purposes of this blog, let’s assume the range is 1985 through to 2000. Most obviously then, the problem of unifying this cohort under the term ‘millennial’ is that someone born in 1985 is now 31, and the person born in 2000 is 16. Does the 31 year old, struggling with his or her first mortgage and new baby consider themselves the same as the 16 year old they drive past on their way to work? The 16 year old who is off to sit GCSE level exams and dreaming of getting their fake ID sorted for Friday night down the pub? Probably not.

But just looking at age is too simplistic. Hence those that classify millennials attempt to describe them, typically using phrases to describe them such as ‘free or independent thinkers’, ‘adept with technology or digital natives’, ‘looking to tread their own path or challenging to established ways of working’, ‘looking for authentic experiences or craving the experience over the product’. I can understand this, but there is a large part of me that just thinks that all the previous phrases do is describe ‘young people’ from pretty much whatever era you choose.

Part of the problem with attempting to classify ‘millennials’ and how they think and act is the lack of acknowledgement that as we grow, exactly how we think and act continues to change. We are rarely the finished article at 65 let alone 25. And while many of us thought of ourselves as free from the man and about to forage our own path when we were 16, an equally large percentage of us will feel differently as life progresses.

 Young people, just like those in middle age or those kicking back in retirement are interested in different things, are driven by different passions and respond differently to different ideas and messages. Lumping them together under one banner is lazy.

Over the next couple of blog posts I will look at some of the more interesting facts, figures and research about this cohort of individuals and give some thoughts on how we can use the data and technology now more readily available to us to better target and respond to their needs.