Millennials get lumped into a stereotype, and there’s plenty of conversation on how to reach them. However, new research from Google suggests that Millennials aren’t as narrowly defined as once thought. How do advertisers connect with these real, young people?
Why Do Millennials Get a Bad Rap?
Perhaps you’ve noticed the Millennial generation getting a bad rap in recent years. Sure, older generations have always lamented the habits of “kids these days,” but for some reason, Millennials seem to have a worse reputation than did, say, Generation X.
There’s no shortage of examples. A quick Google search on the “problem with Millennials” yields plenty from both sides of the argument. A Business Insider article from 2012 bemoans participation trophies, helicopter parenting, dependence on friends and social media.
A Mashable piece from earlier in 2017, while less stuffed with dated stereotypes, still frames Millennials as a problem. The conclusion is that it’s up to professional leaders to accommodate for their “shortfalls” and help younger employees grow.
Interestingly, the group talking about the faults of the Millennial generation includes Millennials themselves. This video of a young woman listing off the problems with Millennials was all over social media, and watched more than 40 million times (according to the YouTube creator’s interview with Fox News).
One psychologist explains a possible reason for the tension in an article on Millennials’ bad rap. Brenda Bauer, Psy.D., introduces us to the term “generativity,” which is a general concern (typically) middle-aged people develop for younger generations, and the resulting need to guide and nurture them.
Bauer suggests that the current rift between Millennials and older generations can be attributed to a failure of generativity. This failure has always existed and created tension between generations. Yet, Millennials are often thought to be particularly lazy, self-centered, entitled, etc.
She provides the example of a 52-year-old patient who was hoping for a promotion, but was distractedly concerned that a Millennial colleague would get it instead. He enjoyed making fun of the Millennial’s mannerisms and clothing before remembering that he himself had worn some unconventional things in the 1990s.
Perhaps Baby Boomers have a hard time with young people because they’re having a harder time with aging than previous generations did. According to a 2016 article from Time, Baby Boomers face higher levels of isolation than their parents, and report fewer meaningful interactions with those closest to them. Interactions with social 20-somethings might be an unwelcome reminder of that fact.
Looking back at Millennials, Bauer highlights the specific differences between them and older generations – factors making them historically unique and giving them a new world view. Everything from perpetual war and general distrust of establishments to inactivity on climate change and the ethics of consumerism comes into play.
Because of these things, Millennials want communications to be straightforward. They want careers that feel meaningful. They are civic-minded and care about local and global communities. Like the Mashable piece, Bauer then calls on older generations to guide Millennials in these pursuits.
Millennials are Motivated, Honest and Open-Minded
Think with Google provides a counterpoint to the negative stereotypes and bad raps of Millennials. Based on new research about what Millennials watch on YouTube, Google video marketer and Millennial Matt Anderson paints a more nuanced, positive picture of this much-examined generation.
Millennials are Motivated
Unlike the idea of young people raised on praise for every action who now waste time on their smartphones, Millennials are actually self-starters and doers. They use technology to learn how to do things differently.
In the past year, 70 percent of Millennial YouTube watchers used the site to learn more about their interests or how to do something. Topics vary from athletic skill to recipes for children.
Millennials Want to Improve, Not Promote
Millennials aren’t watching YouTube to see perfect portrayals of life. They seek videos to help improve their physical and mental health – something 47 percent of Millennials say they’ve done. This generation is looking for honesty and supportive communities, not fame.
Millennials Like New Perspectives
This generation wants to understand others’ outlooks, and comes to YouTube to hear the perspectives of people different from them. In the last year, 39 percent of Millennial YouTube watchers have gone through life-changing moments or shifted perspective while watching YouTube.
Better yet, 45 percent say that YouTube creators have inspired them to make changes in their own lives.
Anderson closes the piece with a reminder that advertisers can use: Millennials’ buying power is on the rise, and brands that can connect authentically (perhaps with YouTube ads) will be the brands that benefit.
Advertising to Millennials on YouTube
If you want to advertise to Millennials on YouTube, we’ve got a few things you should keep in mind.
Earlier this year, eMarketer reported that almost 60 percent of Millennials watch ads until they can hit “Skip Ad.” While it might be disheartening that they don’t watch the whole thing, know that almost 30 percent of Millennials actually watch entire ads.
For advice on how to keep Millennials watching and engaging with ads, check out these tips from Social Media Week. They cover everything from targeting to data to relatable content.
Need inspiration? Read along as Think with Google examines how HP creates YouTube ads that catch Millennials’ attention.
Millennials comprise a large and varied generation, and while they might be very different from Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, they’re open to quality advertising that speaks to them. Use platforms like YouTube to speak their language, and remember to connect with the people, not the stereotype.