It seems unavoidable to escape the opinion that the millennial generation is the worst. Everyone seems to thrash on this generation for being selfish, lazy, spoiled, and entitled. Even those of us that fall into the appropriate age bucket often roll our eyes and wish our generation could just get its &?%! together. The media loves to play up the stereotypes from every angle, and without question, there are a number of millennials whose personal vendetta is to enforce them. That being said, with over a trillion dollars in purchasing power and over 80 million strong in the U.S. alone, it is better to try to understand this generation rather than to just label them.
Myth No. 1: Millennials are Young and Naive
When many people think about millennials they often picture someone in their early 20s: The newbie adult aimlessly wandering the streets of life in search of direction and purpose. The reality is that millennials range from 18-35 years old. This is a huge age gap. Labeling a group this big and assuming that they all act a certain way is a complete fallacy. This is the most educated generation yet. 47 percent have a college degree, and 18 percent already have a graduate degree or PHD. In addition to that, 40 percent of millennials are already parents. As hard as many try to avoid adulthood, the reality is that millennial adults are projected to outnumber Baby-boomers this year in the U.S.
Myth No. 2: The Attention Deficit Generation
Millennials are often thought of as having a short attention span. This is the generation that marketers have tried to connect with, yet millennials pay zero #$!? when it comes to investing in content that does not immediately capture them. The problem though lies less in the rise of ADHD and more due to the fact that millennials are consuming more content on mobile. Mobile-only internet usage, according to ComScore, is becoming the norm for Millennials. Now 21 percent use mobile to go online, instead of desktop computers. Mobile consumption has very different usage patterns compared to desktop. At StumbleUpon, we see this exhibited with our mobile millennial users. Their average session length has decreased, but the number of times they logged on in a given day has skyrocketed. They also are logged on more frequently for a shorter a duration of time, consuming content at lightning speed with just a swipe. TL;DR Millennials are digesting more and more content via mobile, wherever they are and at every moment in the day. If you want to catch their attention, you need to convey your message in succinct bits that can be clearly delivered on a 6 inch screen.
Myth No. 3: Millennials Hate Marketing
Often we hear how difficult it is to reach the fickle millennial generation. As a tech-savvy group of individuals who grew up with the internet, millennials also grew up with options to avoid consuming what they don't want to see. From Tivo and DVRs to effortless swiping through content, millennials have grown accustomed to ignoring what does not bring them value. The caveat is that they engage and invest in what does provide value. It is not that millennials hate marketing, but instead that they hold to a different, or shall we say, higher standard. Brands that offer value and experiences outperform click bait's fetching of eyeballs and impressions. At StumbleUpon we see that Millennials engage with branded content 52 percent more than other generations proving that they don't care if content is sponsored, they just care if it is good.
Millennials will continue to get pummeled by the press until Gen Z comes of age and takes the spotlight. Regardless of the flood of stereotypes, it is important to remember the power and opportunity that lies within this generation. Brands need to understand this generation's diversity, think mobile-first, and create authentic content that provides value.