Martha Stewart, the millionaire who committed securities fraud, has criticised millennials for not being as successful as her. In a gushing profile piece by Luxury Listings NYC, the lifestyle icon became the latest old guard celebrity to condemn “generation snowflake” for failing to follow the same domestic and professional templates set by baby boomers and Gen X.
“I think every business is trying to target millennials. But who are millennials?” She says. “Now we are finding out that they are living with their parents. They don’t have the initiative to go out and find a little apartment and grow a tomato plant on the terrace.”
According to Stewart, still living at home is a symptom of immaturity and indolence, rather than a common side-effect of living in an economy where the cost of living has steadily risen and owning property has been consigned to little more than a daydream for many.
“I understand the plight of younger people,” Stewart insists. “The economic circumstances out there are very grim. You have to go after it.” She then goes on to talk about how she “immediately got an apartment” after marrying at the age of 19, so it’s probably fair to say she doesn’t actually understand younger people at all.
While Stewart lacks any sense of irony in her comments, she does pose a valid question. Who are millennials, exactly?
Ever since the term was coined, we’ve been inundated by generalisations. Some of these stem from common sense (people born into a digital world are more likely to be early adopters), but increasingly, “millennial” has become a catchall for the lazy, self-indulgent cry-babies imagined by Martha Stewart and others.
It’s folly to assume that everyone born roughly between 1980 and 2000 will have the same attitude or outlook on life. So why are advertisers spending money trying to reach this nebulous consumer?
“Trying to hit overly broad categories means companies aren’t specifically focusing their efforts,” says a new report by YuMe, entitled Millennials: Evolved. “This makes it hard to ensure every dollar is spent with maximum impact in mind.” The paper, published this week, challenges common assumptions made by advertisers, and breaks the 18 to 34 year old group into five more specific personas which brands may be interested in engaging.
1. Mobile Mavens (19%)
Predominantly white, female and younger than the other groups, the Mobile Maven has old-fashioned values when it comes to staying connected to family and friends, but she uses new technology to do so. Mobile Mavens consult online reviews before making purchases, and respond well to ads which are funny and thought-provoking.
2. Tech-Savvy Savants (19%)
Tech-Savvy Savants are less sociable than Mobile Mavens, instead using technology to entertain themselves; they are more likely to binge-watch a TV show than any other persona in the study. They also like to research products and brands before making a decision, and they prefer ads which are clear and up-front with information. Once Tech-Savvy Savants decide they trust a brand, they stay loyal.
3. Cross-Training Cord Cutters (22%)
This segment is the most diverse in terms of ethnicity, and combines ambition in the workplace with an active social life. Cross-Training Cord Cutters are the most likely group to have given up on cable TV altogether, instead opting to watch short video content on smart devices. When shopping in-store, Cord Cutters use their mobile devices to make sure they get the best deals.
4. Thrifty Traditionalists (22%)
Thrifty Traditionalists are unique in that they prioritise values and causes, be that their families, their country, or the planet. Traditionalists tend to be older and less diverse than other segments, and less responsive to the majority of advertising. They are also less connected than other personas on social media, with 69% of Traditionalists believing the internet is unsafe for children.
5. Casually Connected (18%)
Less affluent and driven than Mobile Mavens, this largely white, single and childless consumer is “content with meagre pleasures” such as free online entertainment. A Casually Connected millennial might feel more comfortable interacting on social media than in a real-life social setting. They’re less likely to be big spenders, but when they do shop, they take friends’ recommendations to heart. 70% ignore video ads, and 68% hate it when they are forced to watch an ad that is irrelevant to their interests.