The Road Explorer - Summer 2017 - 12
NOT MY TRIBE:
Beyond Millennial Stereotypes
by Jason Dunkel
o say I remember it like it was
yesterday would be a lie. I don't
exactly recall when or where it
happened. What I can tell you is
that at a marketing research conference
probably four years ago, I was grabbing a
drink at a bar when I overheard a couple
of middle-aged attendees speaking in
what seemed like a very serious tone.
"We really need to do something about
these Millennials," one of the men
said. The other nodded and added in
exasperation, "We just have no idea
what to do about them!"
It wasn't what they said, but how
they said it. At that point "Millennial"
was a relatively new term in some
marketing circles, and these people
were talking about Millennials as if
they were a new species. But not in a
"Wow, this is a really interesting new
species" sort of way; more like a "This
species threatens the existence of
marketers worldwide" way.
Four years ago, Millennials had been
deemed the next big thing in marketing,
so I can understand why these
conference-goers may have felt such an
urgent need to understand them. But as
a Millennial myself, this attitude always
struck me as kind of funny. It was as if
the same people I had been chitchatting
with at conferences were secretly taking
notes on my behaviour, trying to learn
whatever they could about me and
my ilk. It made me feel like a rare zoo
animal: important, under constant
observation and likely misunderstood.
Since then, more and more
conferences have begun to focus on
Millennials. I remember thinking
we may have reached "peak
Millennial" when I saw a sharply
dressed 20-something self-proclaimed
"generations expert" give a keynote
Avid risk takers, but not looking to change the world. They start their day with
Bros and Brittanys a cup of Tim's and end it with a beer. They are enthusiastic users of technology.
(32% of Canadian Millennials)
Making it in life and doing things that bring new and intense experiences are top
priorities. They crave success and pursue personal challenges. They work to inspire
respect, to look good and push forward in their goals. Most multicultural of the groups.
(20% of Canadian Millennials)
Millennials on steroids: sociable, energetic, focused on personal growth. They want
meaningful lives and careers, and to express their creativity. Most female of the groups.
(17% of Canadian Millennials)
Deeply skeptical of authority. Cool and standoffish, they like to keep life simple
and avoid connections to community and society, but they're not angry or hostile.
(16% of Canadian Millennials)
Back to the 50s. Religion is an important part of their lives and their identity; they
have a strong sense of duty and a greater sense of identification with their family.
(11% of Canadian Millennials)
Share progressive values with Engaged Idealists, but reject status and authority
they see as illegitimate or superficial. They're out to shake up the world.
(4% of Canadian Millennials)
presentation on understanding
Millennials. Of course, he touched
on all the well-worn crowd pleasers:
Millennials are lazy; Millennials live in
their parents' basements; Millennials
post everything to social media;
Millennials are cheap; Millennials are
afraid of commitment and so on.
While the presentation was
entertaining and the crowd loved it, I
felt a little betrayed by it. This speaker
painted my entire generation with
the same brush, doing nothing but
strengthening stereotypes. I felt like
saying to him, "You know who isn't
lazy, living in a basement and afraid of
commitment? A guy in his 20s who owns
his own company and makes a living
flying around the country giving keynote
presentations about Millennials!"
Not long afterward I received an
invitation to speak on a panel about
Millennials. I took it as an opportunity
to take up the good fight to destroy
Millennial typecasting. While the
stereotypes may be true of some, there's
a world of differences among most of us.
The Road Explorer
Whether you are a marketer, service
provider or retailer, you'll be missing out
on many opportunities if you ignore this
reality. And now I present my Excalibur
in this fight: I have the data to prove
the existence of many different kinds
As a long-time employee of Environics
Analytics, a marketing and analytics
company, I know there are many
different ways to segment Millennials
in the travel industry, and the approach
that you take depends on your objective.
Are you a travel agency specializing in
luxury vacations and looking to find
the wealthiest Millennials? Are you the
tourism department of a city seeking
to promote your cultural offerings to
arts-minded Millennial visitors? Are you
the tour operator of an extreme sports
facility looking for adventure-minded
twentysomethings? At Environics
Analytics, we have more than 20,000
data points on what Canadians think,
buy and do - and where you can find
similarly inclined consumers. We can
slice and dice the data by such factors