Millennials: Why Understanding This Group is Key to Communications Success

There are several cornerstones to strategic communications planning, including research, goals, measurable objectives, a strategy, primary message and a target audience. None stands alone but together they make a strong program likely to result in successful outcomes.

Though often overlooked, understanding a company’s primary target group is critical to success. It helps sharpen the focus of all messages and tactics, and determine where resources (time and money) should be focused. Also, having a defined target audience doesn’t mean you’re ignoring the rest of the world; just that you’re focusing on one more than another.

As communicators, we often break target audiences into demographic groups, such as Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (early ‘60s to early ‘80s) and the oft-discussed Generation Y/Millennials (early ‘80s to early 2000s). As strategic communicators, we like to break consumers into groups so we can pay attention to their buying habits, likes and dislikes, etc., and know how we can most effectively reach them. Much has been said about all three groups, but the youngest adults, Millennials, seem to be causing the most challenges for marketers.

One of the biggest changes for retail merchants is this generation does not carry cash. An article from points to the currently favored solutions being payment apps, reward programs, apps like PayPal and Venmo as well as bitcoins. For us Baby Boomers, it’s a new world, but we need to adjust, grow and learn if this is a target audience for our companies.

The Millennial generation is also eating a lot and, not surprisingly, they aren’t cooking at home like your grandmother did/does. Instead, they are eating out, bringing in, and spending a lot while doing so. According to Bon Appetit’s latest culture issue, they are spending $96 billion on food, especially in restaurants. Millennials also love to share on social networks what they are eating. As a result, their reviews have an increasingly large impact on business success and their food photos are securing hundreds of “likes,” meaning lots of attention.

As much as some might want the Millennials to conform to tradition, they are fiercely independent and even challenge the label itself as one not befitting their lifestyles. Communications professionals need to stay abreast of trends such as these so we are sure to reach the target audiences in ways they want to be reached. If you’re interested in learning more, check out my Diigo bookmarks for Millennials, or contact me for a consultation.

The Barber Group

Gig Harbor, Washington


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