"Millennials (also known as the Millennial Generation or Generation Y) are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates for when the generation starts and ends; most researchers and commentators use birth years ranging from the early 1980s to around 2000." (source: Wikipedia)
In my career as a Designer, Art Director and Creative Director at various agencies and magazines in the Bay Area and in Portland OR, the sound knowledge of the customer I am speaking to has been at the forefront of every piece or campaign. The consumer was, and is, in my head all the times. It's a role a marketer plays, as an actor would. I learn your world. Understand how to connect with you. Speak your language.
I became an expert in talking to the GI and Silent generations at a Fortune 500 Management company. I shot photos and created scenarios that screamed "Baby Boomer" for Norm Thompson Outfitters. Now I speak in my generations language, Generation X. Honestly, it's like talking to myself. I find these people the easiest to connect with for obvious reasons. They are my people. Pretty easy to immerse myself in this world. I express my thoughts through Little Bay Root and Sasquatch Trading Post now. I'm talking to different people with different mindsets in these two brands. The customers of Sasquatch Trading Post and Little Bay Root couldn't be any more different. Let's just say, one is more lefty, and one much more conservative. But I talk to both all day, I just adjust my accent.
Then age of the Millennial arrived in a big way, 80-million strong; the largest of any generation. And they didn't come with any marketing analysis for me to go on. They're a whole new breed. One foot in this world, and one foot on another planet. How do I to find 80-million sets of ears? What are they thinking? What are they concerned about and what touches them? Makes them angry, or chuckle. And most importantly, where are they? How do I find them?
Generation Y is a totally different animal. The digital age we have been living in for 70 plus years has brought on an increasingly difficult demographic to reach as the worlds within it multiply and people create their own bubbles of reality. Getting into the bubble is the key.
The Millennial might physically be standing on the corner of Market and Grand, but don't bother to put up a neon sign there. They're most likely only looking at the device in the palm of their own hands, or taking a selfie to let everyone they know (or don't know) where they are and what they are doing. They are the masters of these devices, quickly finding information and communicating. They are living more and more online. They get most of their information and inspiration online. They find love online. They use the internet to filter the world around them to see what they want to see, in effect creating a reality that is their own personal view. Everyone's (of any generation) ability to tell the difference between the real world and the online reality we want to believe in, is getting less and less easy. Did I send you that as a text, or tell you? I forgot...
I know where the Millennials go. I go there sometimes. Not as often, but more and more. I know where they are when they're standing right there, but you can't get their attention, they are on another plantet. Planet Me.
I think of Planet Me as a world that each of us has created from our own desires through a process of relationship-building online. Everyone has a Planet Me, Millennial or not. Our own online world which we created. Our online communities. The biggest difference I see in the Millennial is the amount of time spent on each planet. The Millennials spend much more time away. It's not necessarily "good" or "bad" time away. It's just away. For all the advancements that technology has brought to us, the online world took a part of us away. It pulls us from those most important things around us. We forget to keep that door open for the person behind us because our heads are on another planet. We text while driving. We operate in two worlds at once.
And so, here I am, seeing all you Generation Y kids with one foot here and one foot on Planet Me, now having kids...wondering where those kids will live. Here? There? Yet another planet? I hope not. I hope your kids come back to you. I hope your kids find a balance between the two worlds that leaves two feet firmly on this planet without losing grasp of all the great things technology brings us.
I've made a conscious decision to continue to connect on this planet. I hope to find more and more of you there, because that online world we made, Planet Me, it's not real.
Let's have lunch.
or just shop our Little Bay Root apparel and gifts.