Older Millennials Aren’t “All-In” On Personalized Marketing: A Completely Subjective First-Person Account.

November 24, 2014

By Michael Berberich, manager, marketing knowledge center

I am a Millennial. I’m a smartphone-dependent, Instagram-obsessed, Starbuck’s Card-carrying member of (don’t call us) Generation Y. However, I am also on the, let’s say “mature” side of 30. I only create a profile on a social network after my cooler friends have deemed it a worthwhile venture (sound familiar, marketers?), and I do expect customization and personalization from brands…but only to a point.

Let me explain: this past year I started traveling for work on a monthly basis (if you ever attend our Members-Only Conferences, I’m the one feverishly typing during the presentations — say hi at lunch!). Occasionally I get to my destination with a little time to spare, so before my trip I like to check out the local attractions by my hotel. One day I Googled the name of the city I was about to visit and the first search result was detailed information about my flight reservation. It showed my name, my confirmation number, everything. Now, it should be noted that the confirmation email from the airline was sent to my Gmail account…which I almost always access via Google Chrome. So it makes perfect sense why Google would “know” I was headed to San Antonio in a few days.

It didn’t make it any less creepy for me, though. And it should also be noted that I didn’t make a new email address, or start using a new browser, or start Binging (sorry Bing). But my brand perception of Google changed that day, and not in a good way.

I think about how my cousin would react to the same experience (she just started college this past September, making her a very young Millennial, and essentially a part of a different generation than me), and I feel like she’d be disappointed if Google didn’t look up her flight info and present it to her so that she could better plan her time in Texas. To her, it’s not creepy that Google knows, they had better know, or the brand isn’t doing its job. I’m reminded of a quote from a recent presentation (and the speaker was quoting a friend of hers, so I guess the quote’s officially gone “viral”): “I feel like sometimes my Google predictive search is the only one that gets me.”

For anyone asking, “So what?” right now, here’s what: targeting 18- to 35- year olds anywhere, as a singular unit, is no longer actionable. Brands need to take a deeper look into exactly who they’re targeting. For big brands, my cousin and I might seem to fit into the same general demographic; in reality, our expectations are different, and in some cases, the opposite of one another.

Would you like to learn more about the generational differences in consumers? Click here!


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