Millenials are the new Gen-X. It’s all the same.

You can’t turn on your computer these days and not hear about Millenials. It’s human nature to want to make sense of things. An easy way is to put things into categories. It’s neat, it’s easily understood, it’s easier to explain. The problem is that most often it’s completely wrong.

I cringed when I first heard the definition of Gen-X. I was supposedly one of them. I was supposed to be exactly like all the people born around the same time. We loved the same things, related to work and authority the same way, behaved in the same manner with our peers and elders. I cringed every time a new Gen-Y, Gen-Z and all the other alphabets popped up year after year. Millenials are the latest.

The truth is that definitions of Millenials probably make them cringe too. How can they all be the same? How can they all be so different from me?

Yes they are young. As such they don’t experience technology they were born into the way previous generations did. Neither did our parents with the Walkman or our kids with YouTube. Is that enough to define a generation, or to use these definitions as insights that will help us better communicate with them?

While it can be interesting around the dinner table, as marketers we should work harder. Instead of focusing on artificial definitions, we should look at real life instead. We all know fun people, people who love to explore new things, and some that are more scared of change. I’ve met people who were old at 16, who never wanted to try anything new. I’ve met a granddad who tries new things all the time and is up to speed with most of the latest technologies. In which groups do they fit into? Baby-boomers? Noughties?

To better understand our target audiences, it’s probably better to look at the human truths that unite them rather than just an age group, a gender, or a nationality. These little boxes give us the illusion to better understand and control the world around us. Comfortable yes. Effective?

Arnaud