'Millennials' are the new 'busy mums' - and both terms are meaningless

With the insights and data available to today, it's up to clients and agencies alike to get beyond banal targeting.

'Millenials' are the new 'busy mums' - a meaningless cohort, argues Chris McCafferty
'Millenials' are the new 'busy mums' - a meaningless cohort, argues Chris McCafferty

Yoghurt, soft cheese, cars, websites, TV shows, new banks, coffee, tea and biscuits - what do they all have in common?

OK, I made the biscuits up. I just thought it rounded out my shopping list of genuine brand conversations we’ve had recently with businesses wanting to target the promised land of millennials.

I say the promised land because millennials have a mythical quality about them. The answer to all our commercial needs for the next generation. Somehow always hiding just out of sight, probably at the end of the rainbow.

Quite apart from the fact they are all probably living dairy-free lives, is such a commercial list of products right for an audience that lives in the experience economy where experiences are the new wealth, and you’re only as good as your last status update?

There. I’ve done it myself. ‘They’. Twice in the last two paragraphs.

A homogenous, united and somehow lookalike audience who share the same values, desires and whims. And of course it’s nonsense.

Gen Y is usually recognised as anyone born between 1980 and 1994. That’s around 14 million people in the UK.

One million more than Generation X, and approximately one million less than the Baby Boomer generation.

Add in the 14 million or so under 20-year-olds making up Gen Z, the early adopter’s new promised land, and we have our targeting set complete.

Four audiences. Four mindsets. Four ideas perhaps?

It all reminds me of ‘The Busy Mum’. The target audience of many a brief at the beginning of my career. (I’m Gen X if you’re interested.)

Who are we targeting?" "Busy Mums." "But what about the fact the average age of a new mum in the UK has increased by nearly 20 per cent in the last two decades and the fertility rate for women aged 40 and over has nearly trebled since 1991? "Yeah, but they’re still busy, right?.

Chris McCafferty, founder of Kaper


The Busy Mum is still around sometimes.

"Who are we targeting?" "Busy Mums." "But what about the fact the average age of a new mum in the UK has increased by nearly 20 per cent in the last two decades and the fertility rate for women aged 40 and over has nearly trebled since 1991, according to the Office for National Statistics?" "Yeah, but they’re still busy, right?"

The point is, it’s up to all of us, client and agency alike, to get beyond such banal targeting.

With the insights and data available to us today, the opportunity to get beyond the obvious and into real insights is massive.

What are the triggers? What are the behaviours that surround them? And what does it mean for the creative?

How can we create a suite of creative digital assets that are served in an optimised way according to individual’s needs and progress through a customer journey, not according to a 14-million-strong, catch-all assumption?

Yes, some of the hyperbole around programmatic delivery of creative and storytelling is just that and, in itself, still the promised land. But I’d take the vision over the status quo any day.

So we’re going to try to ban the M word from our vocabulary, just as we’ve turned our back on the Busy Mum. They both deserve way more insight and scrutiny.

In fact, they’re almost as clichéd as the ranty and opinionated agency founder. Don’t get me started.

Chris McCafferty is the founder of Kaper

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