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Marketing to Millennials: A Millennial Speaks Up

content marketing checklistI’m sure, like me, you have read countless articles about Marketing and Millennials.

Maybe it was a “Do’s and Don’ts” article or a “How to,” or my personal favorite “5 Tips For…” But have you ever wondered where their information came from? When I see these articles I’m always plagued by the question–how did they alone solve the riddle to marketing to the massive generation that is Millennials… And why aren’t they rolling in dough?

There’s quantitative and qualitative research

While the quantitative research on marketing for Millennials seems to be flourishing (maybe a bit too much at this point), I’m seeing very little qualitative data offered and used to better understand today’s marketing landscape.

In its most basic definition quantitative research is empirical research. It means studying phenomena from a mathematical point of view–the goal is to discover generalizable results. Qualitative research is about in-depth exploration and is not meant to be generalizable. It’s about observing and understanding the variables being researched within their natural environment.

To see insights from quantitative data on Marketing and Millennials:

The Millennials are Here!

You know where I’m going with this… We need both. 

We need both qualitative and quantitative data to truly understand how to reach Millennials. The biggest issue with the current “marketing to Millennials” articles is the assumptions they make. I can list at least two handfuls of my friends who don’t fit, and honestly I don’t have that many friends. I appreciate quantitative data just as much as the next researcher, but I also know that generalizability means you’re going to miss many nuances and contextual factors that change the outcome.

I’m here to offer a Millennial perspective

I will share my thoughts and experiences and those of other Millennials about how we fit (or don’t fit) the Millennial stereotype. I’ll also explore our reactions to various marketing and branding endeavors: What worked for us, what didn’t work, and specifically why we feel that way. Spoiler: We’re probably going to disagree with each other... Often. We don’t all like the same things all the time. I know, this comes as a shock. Slow deep breaths.

One last question to answer … 

Who exactly is a Millennial?marketing tips

There’s actually some debate about this. In fact, The New York Times and Slate ended up in a bit of an argument when The New York Times wrote about Millennial trends and used a 37 year-old as an example to back their claims. As Phillip Bump of The Atlantic pointed out, we actually don’t know exactly when the Millennial generation begins and ends. But if we do want to define it, which as marketers we do, Millennials were born between 1984-2004.

Already seeing the issue with quantitative data?

That means you’re looking at a generation that spans 20 years! Right now, Millennials are 11 to 31. (Some stats say they’re 16 to 34 in 2015.) I know I was interested in and delighted by very different things when I was 11 than I am today at the ripe age of 25… And I can’t imagine how that will change when I’m 31.

Quantitative data can quite efficiently and effectively assess whether most of us have cars, want to be home owners, are comfortable with technology, etc…. But that data doesn’t really assess why we own the things we do, why we react to marketing the way we do, and what experiences we’ve had that bring us to those conclusions.

If you’re ready for a deep dive, join me for this journey into the brains of real Millennials (like we’re unicorns or something). Dive in:

And if you ever have a question or an inkling about what Millennials think, just hop into the comments and ask!

I can’t tell you what all Millennials think, or even give you the broad generalities of marketing for Millennials … But I can tell you in-depth what a few think and why they think that way.

About the author

Alexandra Riecke-Gonzales

As a millennial who has also worked in social media marketing and management for the last 2 years, Alex really has the best of both worlds: As a millennial she knows what they want and how they communicate and as a social media marketer she is able to take that knowledge and put it to use for businesses. Of course, finishing up a Master's Degree in Communication doesn't hurt either, helping her understand the significance of context, channel, and messaging. She writes to encourage conversations that help others develop actionable branding strategies but more importantly, encourage conversations about the social media landscape today and how to best navigate it.

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