To advertise to millennials, stop trying

To those who aren’t millennials, everything about us is confusing. Internet commentators wonder: “Do millennials dislike capitalism because it’s not a safe space?” We’re “the cheapest generation,” according to a 2012 The Atlantic think piece, and “the Me Me Me generation,” according to Time magazine.

Everyone has an opinion on us, which The Onion brilliantly parodied with the headline “Word ‘Millenials’ Forced into Headline To Boost Page views.”

Businesses struggle to court elusive millennial dollars. “Why aren’t millennials buying diamonds?” wonders The Economist, concluding that “young consumers increasingly shun the taint of conflict and exploitation.” Ford thinks “techno-pink” cars will convince us to buy them.

Some, in efforts doomed to inevitable failure, try to reach out to us by referencing youth Internet culture. “Deez Fares are Nuts!” proclaimed Frontier Airlines in one such advertisement. “Get 50 percent Off with Promo Code: DEEZNUTS.” The Hill interpreted this as a reference to the 15-year-old who filed to run for president in 2015 under the name “Deez Nuts.” Embarrassingly for Frontier Airlines and The Hill, this pseudonym references not insanity or acorns, but testicles.

But even in the unlikely event that a business does succeed at relating to us, we still won’t buy products we can’t afford. Diamonds, cars, and houses all cost money that many of us don’t have. We graduated around the time of the 2008 recession, so it’s hit us the hardest. While the country’s unemployment rate has fallen to 5.6 percent overall, millennials’ is much higher. We forgo purchases based on necessity, not preference.

In order to appeal to us, realize we don’t have much money to spend, so you are going to have to compete to get that money the way we have to compete for jobs in this economy. Realize that we’re jaded from failed promises in glowing advertisements and failed promises of upward mobility and financial security.

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