Why hello there Blogger. It has been a while.
My disdain over articles like "Millennials want this" and "Gen Y expects that" and "Why Every Social Media Manager Should be Under 25" (Under 25) has become too much to fit into 140 characters. Also, I think I hit a nerve, hence some downvotes, on my small rant in the comments of "5 Things Millennials Want From a Brand" (5 Wants). Thus, here I am on another forum to explain myself in greater detail.
In that “5 Wants” article I posted my first comment in response to someone saying they, at 66, want the same things that are credited to millennials wanting. The comment continued to explain how we shouldn't make too much of age distinctions, I agreed by saying:
"Digital natives" aren't necessarily millennials. Early-adopters from any generation have experienced the growth of tech and social media, and some have the additional perspective of having watched broadcast TV do the same. Just as, not all millennials take to digital like what is assumed of them. (Mind you, most of the millennials I know that aren't very well-versed in digital are on the older side of the age spectrum).
Let's talk more about how we market to INDIVIDUALS at a certain stage in their life, not generalize based on age.
Now let me point you to one of my very old blog posts about generational targeting. (I’ll take this moment to apologize for the outdated photos on some of my old posts, which I will attempt to find and replace shortly). The article I am discussing in that post is a great example of my comment above. As the AdAge article puts it,
Appealing to Generation E [everyone] requires a massive shift away from the standard "What are they looking for in a product?" to "What does this brand say about me as a person?"
According to the "5 Wants" article, I, as a person who falls into the age range of a millennial (although one who, per “Under 25,” shouldn't be a social media manager, which is oddly one of my responsibilities in my corporate communications role), want to LOOK like I care. No. If I care, I really care. I don't buy into brands just because of their advocacy campaign to broadcast to the world that I am changing it for the better. I volunteer for and/or donate to causes because they mean something to me. When I do that, I don’t feel the need to make everyone aware of my good deed. Sure, I may ask others to participate if they can, but I don’t sensationalize what I did.
Since people, both millennials or others, are making these sweeping statements (the author of the “Under 25” post included) about a generation that, quite frankly, spans too many ages, others are quick to judge me and my peers. As I put it in another comment to that "5 Wants" article,
"It is because we, to paraphrase Bill, "make too much of age distinctions" in these types of discussions that fuels the vitriol about GenY being a group of entitled, lazy kids, which is not true of all of us."
Proving my point, someone else later responded to the article:
The difference between this generation and previous is this one places the highest value on fame, getting noticed, being noticed ... As noted, it is more important to look like you care, and feel good about yourself for caring, than really making selfless sacrifice. Thus the cause-marketing fashion statements. Most in their 20s are self-centered.
Truth be told, I did fit the above description for a time in my life—my early 20s. I bet all of us no matter what age we are now did at that age or maybe a little earlier. This isn't about Gen Y; it is about an age when we, as individuals, are trying to launch ourselves into the "real world" and really have no idea how best to do that.
As for the arguments that this generation grew up in the age of “digital,” so WE are changing the way business works. New technology is what is changing advertising and the workplace. Stop thinking that just because we were born into this digital era we are the only ones that can understand it. What generation built these new technologies? Can't be the ones being born into it!