From Pepsi to the BBC, companies have been mocked for their attempts to engage millennials. So why not try talking to them like they're normal people?by Mollie Goodfellow / April 5, 2018 / Leave a comment
They’re the problem child of each generation: the Young Ones. I’m sure when my parents were my age, their generation were considered a pain, much as us millennials are the target of choice now. They’re also a source of confusion for those trying to harness the age group as a demographic to sell or market to.
True, we may ingest information in different ways to generations before us. We much prefer to ingest our information via smartphone or tablet for example, rather than picking up a newspaper. In a report by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in 2016, of the 18-24-year-olds surveyed, 28 per cent said that social media was their main source for news.
It is a good thing that people are hired to look into how companies can better angle themselves at appealing to younger people, it’s the way that is translated into reality that is the problem. Too often young people are treated as a caricature of themselves. Entitled, attached to smartphones, with attitudinal problems and a lack of interest in politics.
In this context, younger people can often be bundled up in cotton wool, not yet old enough to have refined palates, needing culture and products spoonfed lest the full-on adult experience overwhelms them. When I see the phrase “aimed at younger people” referring to the not quite teenager but not quite thirty-year-old demographic my response immediately whiplashes to the gif of Steve Buscemi holding a skateboard, asking “how do you do, fellow kids?”
Recently, the BBC announced a new commissioning editor for podcasts, who was hired with the aim of engaging younger listeners. I have to admit, I rolled my eyes. Alongside the article announcing the hire was a picture of said editor, Jason Phipps. I’m entirely sure Jason is a lovely, capable man who brings with him great experience—however, it’s the “engaging younger listeners” which tends to get my back up.
Often, when things are touted as being “aimed at young people,” young people are absent from any decision making. They aren’t hired to be gurus for aiming products at young people. Instead, there’s a preconceived notion of what it means to…