Thursday, 23 February 2012

Don’t let a millennial determine your strategy

Mark Tamis wrote a hype-busting piece this week entitled “go with the customer flow”. He pointed out that currently only 1% of company / customer interactions take place on social media in France (Les Echos). Yet many businesses are getting caught up with “shiny object symptom”, focusing on the 1% channel and “ignoring the rest of the engagement platform”. Spot on.

Building on Mark’s logic, I’m often concerned by companies who try and re-invent themselves by focusing on or piloting an new initiative with Gen Y / Millennials. These are the digital natives, the logic goes… the ones who have created a connected, always-on world. What better place to pilot our shiny new social engagement strategy?

Time for a reality-check. To be clear, I have no problem at all with Millennials, they represent a vibrant, innovative segment and one that can reap huge rewards if you are able to engage with them successfully and on an ongoing basis. But they are also the most over-targeted segment of our time. It seems that suddenly everyone wants to create Millennial super-fans who blog, tweet, answer support questions in a forum and create viral YouTube videos on the company’s behalf. As a category Millennials are swamped with offers and are notoriously fickle in swarming from one offer / device / network to the next (Groupon coupon anyone???). Their loyalty is extremely difficult to attain and on average their disposable incomes are relatively low, compared to other segments of the market.

Graham Hill pointed me to research from David Demery and Nigel W. Duc on Demographic change in the UK. The research is few years old now but it states that by 2025 the largest age groups (at least in the UK) will be aged 45-65 (27%) followed by those aged 65 and over (20%). In addition, the fastest growing age groups will be aged 65 or over followed by those aged 45-65. The smallest and fastest shrinking age group are those aged up to 30 (only 16%). On that basis the 45s and over are where the growth is and where the money is. As Graham Hill says “it's time to move beyond the Millenial hype and focus on demographic and monetary reality of an aging, cash-rich and increasingly time-rich population".

Tom Peters adds another dimension in his book ”The Little Big Things”. He points out that the two most powerful markets that most companies ignore are women and boomers/geezers. “The boomer-geezer market is exploding around the world – and is ridiculously under-served: “What an opportunity for the next 25 years – in fact, market opportunity #1”. The sweetest market, he says, is baby boomer women, quoting the brilliant article in the Economist “The importance of sex” which leads with the provocative opening line “Forget China, India and the internet: economic growth is driven by women”.

Moreover, digital is not exclusively the domain of Millennials. In their 2009 research “The Broad Reach of Social Networks”, Forrester state that seventy per cent of online adults aged 55 and older tap social tools at least once a month. People over 34 have become the largest segment using Facebook and much of te growth in social networking usage is being driven by people over 34.

Before you rush to create target personas who live and breath digital, start with the basics of customer strategy by analyzing your total target market, defining your unique customer value proposition and thinking outside-in about how you can help your customers segments create value. Millennials may seem like an attractive starting point but they are not the only game in town and they certainly aren’t the only segment that has embraced digital.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share This

Share |
Creative Commons License
The Customer Revolution Blog by Laurence Buchanan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at