The Millennial Split

The Millennial Split

Businesses often mistake millennials as one homogenous group. But in reality they are far more diverse than we thought, in both age and their actions. Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are the generational demographic following Generation X, starting around the early-1980s and ending in the mid-1990s. They are the largest generation thus far and account for 80 million United States citizens, and 2.5 billion people worldwide

The word ‘millennial’ is widely dragged around, but the definition is actually so broad that it can refer to somebody as young as 22 and as old as 39. That’s a pretty large gap not only in age but in life experiences and overall interests. Millennials are diverse with varying levels of interests. There’s a huge difference between millennials born in 1982 and 1996. For this reason, millennials are further divided into two groups: young millennials (22 to 31 years old) and old millennials (32 to 39 years old)

Communication differs drastically between the two segmented millennial groups because of the rapid advancement in technology in the last three decades. Older millennials, born in the early-80s remember a childhood free of the internet and cell phones. They likely did not get their first cell phone until their mid-twenties while younger millennials can remember getting their first phones at 10 years old. Cell phones have affected face-to-face communication, and though older millennials have plenty of experience of a life without cell phones, younger millennials… not so much. Constant exposure to advertising clutter has left millennials virtually unresponsive to traditional methods of marketing. It is important to take this into account when marketing to millennials and their subgroups. The biggest mistake a business or agency can make is to assume all millennials are the same. The only thing similar about young and old millennials is they are staying unresponsive to traditional marketing tactics.

Young Millennials

  • Median household income is $67,800
  • 50% are working full-time
  • 44% own their home
  • 37% are parents or step-parents

Contrary to the millennial trope of being careless slackers, younger millennials are actually defying convention by exercising control and are more likely to be fiscally responsible than older millennials. When a brand can recognize who a young millennial really is, and then support them in their unique life stage, they’ll have better success. Content that’s realistic and aspirational, rather than condescending, will always be more well-received. When marketing to younger millennials it is important to remember to be transparent, challenge their creativity, inspire them to act, and be personal and authentic. Younger millennials put an emphasis on experiences versus “stuff” in their lives. They also want to learn, improve, and embrace opportunities for themselves. Brands can connect by developing products that help and assist with their daily lives.

Old Millennials

  • Median household income is $75,000
  • 64% are working full-time
  • 64% own their home
  • 65% are parents or step-parents

These millennials are more likely to be hopping into parenthood and have reprioritized their values. They are less fiscally-responsible than the younger millennials but with the introduction of adulthood and families, they have learned to prioritize balance and sexuality versus freedom and relaxation. Be aware that older millennials were new into their careers during the 2008 financial crisis and are still feeling its wounds. When marketing to older millennials, appeal to their values, sell your purpose as opposed to your product, and understand that reviews matter.  

Over the next few blogs we will understand how to strategically adapt our marketing and advertising tactics to appeal to this massive generation from a millennial perspective.