What's up with Millennials? More importantly, what is up with marketing people and all their conflicting beliefs about Millennials?
Well, the first thing that could be tripping up marketing types who want convenient labels for people is they aren't even buying into being Millennials. These terms for generations are now rolled out every 5 years and they remember they were called Generation Y a few years before they were suddenly being called Millennials. I feel their pain. I am part of Generation X, except I was part of Generation X only after I was part of the Baby Boomer generation, except the Baby Boom was originally just a spike in births after all the military soldiers returned from World War II at the same time (the occupation forces had its own draft to let the combat soldiers go home) and had babies a year later.
It was so well known that the Baby Boom was not a generation that when Billy Idol was creating a band with his friends, he called it Generation X because he was born 10 years after World War II ended - yet now he is a Baby Boomer to Wikipedia readers, even though he was a founder of Generation X and Generation X had originally been used as a term for people born right after the Baby Boom. not 20 years later. Whew, did you get all that? I am not done.
So when I was young, I missed the cutoff for being Generation X because Baby Booms had been declared a whole 20-year generation by then. Then later it became 18 years. I kid you not, someone said it and so it became, without any rhyme or reason, because mainstream media controlled knowledge. Then a guy wrote a book in 1991 capitalizing on the name and declared that Generation X was between 1965 and 1980, so now a generation was only 15 years. How can you have a generation every 15 years? Are people commonly having babies at 15?
And here I had always thought we were called Generation X because 13 was an unlucky number and we were the 13th generation of Americans. See why I am not in marketing?
Millennials have access to the Internet (good) but also Wikipedia (bad) so they have been trained to believe little without verification by websites that match their confirmation bias; they know even their label is just cynical marketing people selling Powerpoint presentations about them to cynical advertisers. They are not buying it, or much of anything else that makes sense to people who need the world to make sense statistically. Millennials have grown up with PR campaigns telling them all they need to be ethical is to buy organic food, yet they don't believe it because they have also been told that American cars cause global warming but Mexican, Chinese and Indians cars are exempt from blame. They are a paradox, just like every other generation in history has been a paradox to older people.
Yet marketers insist that these Millennials are notably different than all generations before. They prefer small-batch artisanal cuisine. we are told, which sounds a lot like foodies projecting their Utopian ideal onto the next generation. I have raised Millennials and I am incredibly food conscious and yet I have never heard small-batch artisanal cuisine mentioned even one time. Oh, and they want food different from whatever Baby Boomers want, marketing people say.
Baby Boomers? What, Generation X is ignored entirely now, even by our own descendants? That part sounds like Gen X marketing people want to force Baby Boomers to retire, so they imply Baby Boomers are exactly wrong for understanding Millennials. And Millennials are too slacker-ish to do the job.
Other marketers say Millennials are instead about interactive vending machines, not shopping at Whole Foods and hosting Giada De Laurentiis Appreciation parties; they want energy drinks and to use Paypal, they want a machine to hand them a Starbucks coffee without having to hear a Fine Arts major correct them with fake Italian when they order it, and they want their foods to be without any of the allergies they are not sure they really have but they were told by their parents they have so they want to be certain.
That Millennial generation wants a relationship with their machines, say marketers.
Which is real? Are they really that different from previous generations?
Here is a set of truths about young people that marketing types say society needs to accept: they are are frustrated, hopeless and cynical; they want to break away from their parents constraints yet still have to live at home longer because of the economy; they are more health conscious; they hang out in coffee shops and smoke cigarettes even though they know better because they can't get jobs in this economy; they are less afraid to challenge authority; they are also more environmentally, economically and socially conscious than the greedy generations before them;
Wow, these Millennials really are complicated, right? No, all those things were said about Generation X during the wealth of the 'dot com' boom and the Clinton years when we had a budget surplus. Basically, ever since marketing became a business, they have tried to claim only marketing people can figure out young people.
Are you as upbeat, liberal, self-expressive and confident as Pew says Millennials are? You can take their quiz at that link and find out. Apparently, personality quizzes are how Millennials figure out who they are, according to pollsters.
- Generation X Versus Baby Boomers: Who's In Worse Health?
- The Myth Of The Green Young Person
- Baby Boomers Don't Enjoy Going To The Gym- But They Do It
- Starting Thanksgiving, 80 Percent Of You Will Regret Your Holiday Food Choices
- 51 Percent Of Consumers Think An Organic Label Is Just An Excuse To Charge More