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10 May 2017

There's more to marketing than millennials

The digital marketing industry is full of very clever, creative and innovative people. It's full of people who are ready to push the envelope, break boundaries and think in new and exciting ways.It's because of this, I’m so frustrated that the industry as a whole still seems to be fixated on millennials. Where to find them, what they want, how they consume media, how to advertise to them and even how to employ them.

Millennials, or those aged 18 to 34, make up one in four adults in the UK and are forecasted to make up 17 million of the population by 2019. So, yes, they are an important group but that also means that three in four adults are not in this sector.

So there are two sides to my frustration. Firstly, it's just lazy thinking. At the recent Advertising Week Europe, I saw countless panels where both agencies and media owners preached to the audience about how they were working hard to ensure that their proposition was aimed fully at a millennial audience. We saw well-known retailers tell us that they were changing their image to appeal to a more ‘edgy’ millennial demographic to address falling sales. My question is, why not improve your message to those in other age ranges? If you have a car which has always sold well in the 40-55 age range, keep selling it to them. If your clothing range which has always sold well to women over 40 starts to drop in sales, look at your product and your marketing, not to a whole new audience.

The same can be said of the employment market. I recently saw the ever eloquent Rory Sutherland bemoan the amount of experience which is being lost to the industry to ‘piss around on a golf course’. So is the same lazy thinking that applies when looking at marketing being applied when looking at staffing? How many good people are being lost to the industry just because they don’t fit in with the perceived idea of what a digital professional should look like?

Admittedly there needs to be a skill base in place first but should it matter if the head in which that knowledge resides is covered in grey hair or even no hair at all?  I cannot tell you how frustrating I find it when I meet former luminaries of the digital scene who find it difficult to pick up decent roles primarily because of their age.

The clever organisations out there will understand millennials and how to work with them. That’s a given.The even cleverer organisations will understand that there is a wealth of older more experienced talent out there as well. People with years of experience are in short supply in this market and in most companies. Think of the benefits that bringing that experience into your organisation would bring. Maybe they will be the one to point out that if your product isn’t selling well, you don’t always have to sell it to millennials. Because three out of four of the population still matter.

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