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Worried About Your Millennial Strategy? Top 3 Myths and Truths

by Mike Dickerson  |  
February 20, 2018

The business press can't stop talking about Millennials. Each week, articles roll off the digital presses, advising brand managers, marketers, and others about the need to understand the unique qualities and challenges that Millennials present.

As more and more of those articles appear—and more authors and speakers attempt to brand themselves as "Millennial whisperers"—a few tropes about Millennials recur again and again.

My advice as a researcher (and a practicing Millennial) is to mostly ignore the advice of those generational gurus. And, in that spirit, with this article I'm going to dispel three of the most commonly repeated myths about Millennials.

Myth No. 1: Millennials are the Zodiac Killer

You've seen the headlines: According to Business Insider, "'Psychologically Scarred' Millennials Are Killing Dozens of Industries." Perhaps no Millennial news trope is more common than the Millennial serial killer: The unique habits and lifestyle choices of the Millennial generation are ostensibly killing countless industries, among them napkins, chain restaurants, non-craft beer, real estate, golf, motorcycles, and diamonds.

Truth: Technology is driving changes that are affecting all of us

When you read a headline describing something Millennials have killed, stop to consider whether there are other forces driving the change.

A shift from sit-down chain restaurants to DoorDash-like delivery options is perhaps driven less by generational habits or thought and more by the technological and logistical advances of an innovative, well-financed group of new restaurant delivery services.

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Mike Dickerson is new product lead at Alter Agents, a research consultancy in Los Angeles. Drawing on a background in qualitative and quantitative sociology research, he brings a strong social science perspective to designing and executing market research projects.

LinkedIn: Michael Dickerson

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  • by Laure Helemski Tue Feb 20, 2018 via web

    Awesome topic and so true!

  • by Nick Strite Tue Feb 20, 2018 via web

    As a millennial and a professional marketer, I approve.

  • by Joe Robles Tue Feb 20, 2018 via web

    Great post! Love the Zodiac Killer myth. Another thing that always struck me with "Millennials are killing everything!" is the notion that businesses are owed business. Talk about entitlement. Millennials don't owe you business just because you've been around a long time. What's your value proposition? Why should I spend money with you? I come from an industry that got complacent and those of us who pivoted and figured out our value propositions survived and thrived.

    Again, great read and take on the subject.

  • by Becky Tue Feb 20, 2018 via web

    A great reminder to us all not to overgeneralize which can lead to bias and even discrimination. Instead, be honest and inquisitive in our business dealings, ask questions and really listen, and pay attention and respect all of those we come in contact with. People are people and this was the first time I saw a published article that reminded us of that and didn't try to over-sensationalize the Millennial population. Thank you.

  • by Michele Wed Feb 21, 2018 via web

    THANK YOU! The most sane, balanced & accurate piece I think I've ever read about Millennials. It's been a pleasure.

  • by Kerry Wed Feb 21, 2018 via web

    This article is the first I've ever commented on on this site. It was thoughtful and insightful. It makes a lot of good sense. Generation X had similar hopes and aspirations (in their 20's) as Millennials and Gen Z. The difference is a new set of external challenges. The Boomer generation is no different, but they had a Builder mentality primarily because of external factors. But aren't Millennials also Builders, in a sense. That's why they are also a thriving Maker generation as well. No one (or generation) is an island.

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