Regular readers will immediately notice the new look of this blog’s banner. The Ageless Marketing Blog is now sponsored by Immersion Active of Frederick, Maryland, the only marketing agency in the U.S. specializing exclusively in online marketing to 40+ markets. Immersion Active’s founders, David Weigelt and Jonathan Boehman, have recently authored Dot Boom, a book that builds on the principles of ageless marketing that I have articulated. They expand the concept of ageless marketing, adapting it to the challenges the Internet poses to marketers. Their chapter, “A Model for Meaningful Online Engagement” alone is worth the price of the book and then some by a goodly margin.
Fast Company ran an article last week entitled A Millennial's Guide to Millennial Guides. It was written by Dan Macsai, a Millennial who reflects on various claims made by sundry authors about Millennial attitudes and behavior. Millennials are generally regarded as those born between 1982 and 2001.
Macsai regards a number of claims made about the attitudes and behavior of Millennials as “half-truths.” Interestingly, however, many of the same claims were made about boomers decades ago. Remember for example when boomers were being called the most selfish generation in history? Macsai talks about Jean M. Twenge’s claim in her book Generation Me that Millennials are absurdly self-involved. “GenMe takes for granted that the self comes first," she says. Forty years or so earlier boomers were first described as the “Me Generation.” The claim was made with the clear implication that boomers were the first generation of youth in history to be consummately self-absorbed.
Macsai sarcastically cites a litany of claims that various authors say distinguish his and his fellow Millennials’ behavior in the marketplace, workplace and play place. But substitute "boomer" for "Millennial" and you come up with how marketers saw boomers decades ago.
For sure there are stylistic differences between boomers in their earlier years and today's Millennials. However; to a remarkable degree the substantive elements of Millennials’ attitudes and behavior mirror the attitudes and behavior of boomers in their youthful years.
I modestly regard myself as something of a “homegrown” expert on generational behavior. I have a 24-year-old daughter named Stephanie who is a Millennial. My oldest is 50-year-old Sabrina who is a boomer. The next two kids, Laura and Karen are boomers, too. Then came my two Gen X-ers, Brian and Michelle. In short, I have sired children in each of marketer's current three favorite generations.
While each of my children have distinct markers of their individuality, like babies crawling across the floor together, all six kids have developed in a more or less predictable fashion. Their development has been consistent with the observations of Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Erik Erikson, and other luminaries in the field of human development. Even into their middle age years they continue developing in somewhat predictable fashion, all without sacrificing their distinctive individualities.
A focus on consumers in the context of generational positions began in the early 1960s with a landmark agreement between the television ratings organization Nielson and the ABC television network. ABC was running third in the three-network television industry when it came up with an idea for more effectively competing against NBC and CBS.
ABC's audience was somewhat younger than NBC and CBS audiences. ABC sold Nielson on adding to their reports on household viewership reports on viewers by age. This was the foundation of generational marketing. This change in viewership reporting made it possible for ABC to sell advertisers on the idea of getting young people into their brands before they made lifetime decisions. Though research has shown that few consumers make lifetime brand commitments in their youth, claiming such in the early 1960s proved to be a winning marketing ploy for ABC in its quest for increasing the inflow of advertising dollars.
In eschewing sweeping generalizations made about the attitudes and behavior of Millennials in his Fast Company article Dan Macsai has put marketers on notice that they invite disappointing results in their campaigns if they take much of what self-styled experts say on Millennials at face value.