Written by Sabrina Carcone on July 14, 2016
in Consumer Behaviour, Strategic Marketing

There is no doubt that the millennial generation (individuals aged 18 to 34 in 2015) is an important segment. From financial services to CPG to insurance, marketers across industries have their eyes on this lucrative group, projected to encompass 75% of the Canadian workforce by 2028. They are demanding, tech savvy, connected, and engaged – pressuring companies to evolve, predominantly in the digital/social media space.

However, to successfully speak their language, marketers need to recognize that the millennial segment is not a “one size fits all” bunch. Within the 16-year millennial window, there is a plethora of psychographic, demographic and sociographic factors – all of which play a role in defining the target, identifying marketing strategies and tactics, and curating relevant content and creative.

Millennials are a critical demographic to the financial services sector in particular. Viewing and categorizing them as one broad, homogeneous group does not provide an accurate assessment and can lead to missed opportunities. For example, in a survey conducted by the Shullman Research Centre, millennials were asked if “meeting daily living expenses” was a main financial goal for them. The results were as follows:

  • 6 of 10 millennials aged 18-24 say that having enough money to meet daily expenses is a main financial goal. This drops to 4 of 10 in the 25-29 age group, and jumps back up to 5 of 10 millennials in the 30-34 age group. (Source)

The trend makes sense. The younger group is likely fresh out of school or perhaps just embarking on a career. They may be left with a big student loan and are likely making entry-level income while striking out on their own, sometimes for the first time. The middle group likely has a higher income and are able to meet their expenses fairly easily. As we approach the older end of the millennial spectrum, however, the realities of adult life set in and their concerns shift once more. They are likely experiencing life-altering events like marriage, buying a house, or expecting children.

This is one example that illustrates the interesting stages that the millennial generation can fall under. Depending on where each individual lies in the spectrum, the lives they are living are very different. Priorities change and shift, and distinct characteristics emerge that fragment the 18-34 age group. A 23-year-old simply has different needs than a 32-year-old. Yet, many marketers still think of both as millennials and millennials only, expecting them to react to the same broad marketing message in the same way.

The spending power of millennials is substantial, projected at 200 billion by 2017, and the individuals in this segment cannot all be painted with the same brush. To successfully target them, it’s important to break them down into smaller sub-segments, allowing marketers to effectively tailor messages that resonate with them. While early-segment and late-segment millennials may share some of the same macro-level views or characteristics, they have very different views on many issues. Millennials don’t have to be daunting – they are people, just like previous generations. Defining the various sub-segments that exist and capturing and analyzing relevant data will allow for a deeper understanding of their individual needs and wants. From there, brands can begin to build loyal, engaging relationships with them.

Sabrina Carcone is an Account Manager at Ariad Communications.

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