Millennial Max: We’re The Same But Very Different
Max Thorpe loves Chipotle Mexican Grill, Snapchat is his social media app, he’s an avid Netflix watcher, he doesn’t watch much TV, and he was born in the early ’90s. A marketing manager by day, CMO.com’s new blogger will write about how marketing is evolving, technology is advancing, and consumer behavior is changing—all through the eyes of a Millennial.
Hi, there. I’m Max, and I’m a marketer. I’m also what you would call a Millennial. I love Chipotle Mexican Grill, Snapchat is my favorite social media app, I’m an avid Netflix watcher, I don’t watch much TV (when I do, it’s only sports), and, oh yeah, I was also born in the early ’90s.
The Millennial generation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, was born between 1982 and 2000. A plethora of stereotypes are associated with us, some accurate, some erroneous; each stereotype has its moments of truth. Not every Millennial loves Chipotle. We don’t all use Snapchat. The important point to understand is that while people in my generation may share certain traits and habits, we are each unique individuals with digital playing a central role in our lives.
As a marketer, it is important that you understand us, since we are one of the largest demographics—more than 83 million in the U.S. We wield $2.45 trillion in purchasing power and by 2020 will make up nearly 50% of the American workforce. Thus, marketers should make it their goal to build brand affiliation with individual Millennials on their own term because brand loyalty has the potential to generate an optimal lifetime value with your business.
Many marketers are struggling to understand Millennials because we seem so different than the generations before us. The fact of the matter is, we are different. People change, and if marketers want to connect, communicate, and collaborate with Millennials, then they need to change, too. The traditional spray-and-pray method of promotion in which marketers target people based on demographics, such as ethnicity, location, or industry, will yield diminishing results. This generation is way too diverse for the typical mass-media and mass-communications approach. In fact, even the simple persona is not specific enough to attain my attention and win my dollars. In the future, marketing is not going to be about targeting segments and personas; it’s going to be about being of service to individuals, like me, at scale.
During my four years at the University of Oregon, I learned about traditional marketing strategies, tools, and channels. In the eight months I’ve been out of school, I’ve worked at mCordis as marketing manager. My daily role includes creating content to drive inbound traffic, promoting our upcoming educational courses, and staying up to date with the latest developments in the digital space. While actively participating in the practice, it is becoming more evident to me that marketing is and will continue to evolve at an unprecedented pace—faster than the processes and technologies that marketers have available to them. This is creating a capabilities gap.
From attending a variety of marketing conferences (MDMC16, eBev, CES 2016, SVEN CMO Future Series, and MarTech) and numerous private events, I’ve identified some recurring themes related to understanding and coping with this rapid pace of change. These include data, automation, content, building out a martech stack, pervasiveness of mobile, and so much more. On the data front, it is clear that the vast majority of marketers have not harnessed its value; moreover, they are putting quantity over quality. It is important to realize that data is like bacon: Everybody wants it, but too much of it will kill you. Data collection in itself is of little value without the analysis to translate it into actionable insights.
In my upcoming articles I will continue to explore and document my opinions and experiences on the themes above as well as new ones that arise. My perspective comes from that of a marketer and consumer. So, please, join me on my journey to see how marketing is evolving, technology is advancing, and consumer behavior is changing—all through the eyes of a Millennial.