It’s Time to Segment Your Millennial Audience

A few weeks ago, I sat down with the media director within my agency to talk about a client pitch. We were drilling down their marketing objectives, when we both stopped at a line in their strategic brief that made us roll our eyes.

Their target audience? Millennials.

It got us thinking – there are certain things you just don’t hear people say. If you ask someone what they want to drink, they don’t answer with “liquid.” If someone asks you what you’re having for lunch the answer isn’t “food.” You don’t hear anyone say they are going hunting for “animals.”

So why do marketers keep saying they are targeting “Millennials?”

We get it, it’s a buzzword and it’s everywhere

But let’s look at this more closely. Millennials, as defined by Pew Research, are anyone aged 18-34 (as of 2015). That is a vast age range to target.  But it’s not just age that should be considered. The Millennial generation is also the most populous generation, with 74.9 million people. There are very few brands that can appeal effectively to an audience of that size, much less one with such significant behavioral discrepancies.

Beyond the size, there are other factors to consider

Our media director falls into the tail-end of the Millennial generation at 35 years old. I fall right in the middle at 23. You know who else falls into this generation? Zach’s 18 year old cousin, who’s living at home this summer, loves Justin Bieber, has no clue who Molly Ringwald is and thinks he’s “old” (seriously).

The three of us fall in the same generation, but we couldn’t be more different. We do share one defining characteristic of Millennials – each of us is active on social media – though none of us is an active user of the same platform. So, does the mere fact that we are in Gen-Y mean we need to be placed in the same audience bucket?

Absolutely not, right? One of us is a homeowner; married with kids. The other has just completed her first year in the working world after landing a job straight out of college. And the other lives in a dorm, went to prom just over a year ago and is going to be a sophomore in college.

No brand should be targeting all of us

Separately, each of us can be valuable to certain marketers – there are brands for which one of us might be the ideal consumer, while the rest of us miss the mark. We simply have different interests, behaviors, motivations and buying processes.

This is why you need segment your Millennial audience.

Who is it that your brand is really trying to reach? Because only in the rarest of circumstances is it “Millennials.” Rather, doesn’t it make more sense to divide that exceedingly large group into an audience that displays the specific interests and behaviors relevant to your brand?

Go with what you know

It’s hard to narrow down your target audience or audiences to the degree that they need to be honed – it takes research, knowledge, the understanding of your brand’s pain points and more.

Try starting your segmentation with any current customer demographics you may have. But of course, building an audience persona is more than just age, gender and location.

Get in their headspace

You’ll also need to understand the behaviors, psychographics and buying motivations in order to impact their purchase plans.

Having an idea of the brand-to-customer experience can help identify where the individual is in the buying cycle and what can be done to move that customer to conversion. If you’re not currently set up with a platform that captures data on your converter, try customer and prospect interviews and focus groups. Talk to them about what influenced their purchase, what type of comparison shopping they had done, how long the buying cycle lasted and what touch points were most impactful from the consumer perspective.

Once you have a grasp of the motivations that are influencing various segments you can adapt your marketing plan to engage and target by segment.

Reap the rewards

Diving deeper into Gen-Y seems like more work than it’s worth, but it pays off with a more effective and impactful marketing plan that generates real ROI. Let’s face it, a strategy that informs more specific and influential creative to sway purchasing decisions on a deeper level is more cost effective than mass-marketing.

So grab the proverbial shovel and some buckets and get to digging.

Article Written by Hannah Young of Social Media Today