Understanding the millennial age gap
Who exactly are the millennials?
Well, for starters, there are 94 million of us, making us the largest generation in American history. And we grew up with the internet, so we’re also digital natives. However, because millennials were born as early as 1981 and as late as 2000, we have vastly different life experiences. Some of us are parents or married homeowners; some of us are just finishing high school.
So not all millennials belong in the same box. The generation can be broken down loosely into two segments: juniors and seniors. Senior millennials are generally those born between 1981 and 1990; junior millennials were born between 1991 and 2000.
We were brought up in a world of fast-paced change and globalization. Brands need to understand millennials’ nuances, because variations in our life stages, levels of income and points of reference affect the way we use technology and consume media, how we spend our money and what is required to get us to buy in.
Consider the different ways that junior and senior millennials consume information. A 2015 Media Insight Project study found that millennials ages 18 to 21 are more likely than millennials ages 30 to 34 to get their news from a social media platform such as Twitter, Reddit, Tumbler or Instagram. Millennials ages 22 to 24 also tend to look for articles or links posted by their friends more than those ages 30 to 34 do — by 11 percentage points.
Brand takeaway: If you want younger millennials to read your content, you’re going to have to make it short, sweet and shareable.
You should also be considering what social media your target audience is on. The Media Insight Project study also showed that older millennials tend to use Facebook more often and that they use it more for social interaction, connecting with friends rather than for news and information on current events.
As you would expect, junior millennials are often more plugged into younger social media networks, such as Snapchat and Tumblr, than their senior counterparts. According to a 2016 ComScore study, Snapchat, Tumblr and Vine — before it was bought and later shut down by Twitter — were the only three social media channels analyzed to have more users who are junior millennials than senior millennials. In fact, almost 50 percent of Snapchat users are junior millennials. If your brand is looking for a younger crowd with a disposable income, this is where to find them.
These are important factors to consider when developing your content and your activation strategy. Understanding these subtle differences in social media usage and content consumption between junior and senior millennials can help brands tailor their strategies to their true target audience, increase brand awareness and drive more millennial consumers to the purchasing funnel.
Generally speaking, millennials ages 18 to 24 are more likely to be surfing social media channels for news and information — this is where video content and influencer campaigns can make a real impact for your brand.
Millennials ages 25 to 34 are spread fairly evenly across all social networks, but they tend to use it more so to connect with friends, so if they’re really your target audience, you may not want to be investing as much in paid social or native advertising. Instead, scale your social and look to other outlets such as email.
Some millennials are buying new homes, and others are buying hoverboards and futons. To whom would you try to market a fancy new vacuum? Brands must keep in mind that a blanket approach to millennial marketing may not be effective because of the wide age gap and diverse lifestyles. Further still, millennials crave personalization, and that can only be achieved when the brands that we love understand us — and all of our nuances.
In the next post, we’ll dive into the differences in millennial spending. Stay tuned!