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Interview with a Millennial

This interview took place with my 19 year old millennial son Chance, who is a smart-ass video gamer, with a heart of gold, yet calls it like he see’s it. (I have no idea where he gets it from)  He loves his dogs, is an avid online reader of things he’s passionate about, is opinionated and like most teenagers is on social media and Youtube a lot. This interview was conducted, after negotiating the terms of his reward for participating (snack run to 7-11), with basic questions and open conversation. 

His answers below are direct quotations from my prepared questions.

Do you consider yourself a Millennial?

I don’t see myself as the stereotypically Millennial, but technically I am of that generation.

Why don’t you consider yourself typical?

Because I’m extremely different than my peers. For one, I have a lot more common sense. I don’t have an entitled bone in my body and I am not susceptible to being caught up in trends. (Typical of a Millennial, right?)

Do you think there is an incorrect perception about
Millennials by the way companies advertise to your generation?

No. Marketers are very good at finding a target audience and marketing to that audience. That’s their job, they are very good at it and they know how to work with it. I would say that the marketing towards the millennials is an extension of the generation. It shows insight into what/who millennials are like and what they want to be. Marketers will study a target audience so they can market correctly to that audience. They’ll find people within that target audience and ask them questions like, “What do you want to be?” and “What do you want?”. You WANT to be a billionaire; you want to be Eminem.

It’s not about “who” you want to be?

Who you want to be is more of a philosophical question, is more about your mindset and your personality.

As kids we were asked “What do you want to be?” not “Who do you want to be?”. Our answers were Astronauts, Policemen, Actors, etc. Not family focused, not good-willed and not caring individuals. Throughout our school years we were told that everything we were learning is so that we can be something and be successful. So marketers are picking up and answering the question of “What” you want to be, not “Who” you want to be. It’s possessions, not the character. It’s about what the person has.

A celebrity can be the biggest asshole in the whole, but as long as he’s successful and has money, he’ll be idealized. Whereas a homeless man can be the kindest and smartest man in the world, but since he’s homeless, no one idealizes him.

What could they be doing differently? What do you think companies should understand?

The only thing they could be doing differently is targeting people individually and personally. For instance, you can put out a commercial about “Beats” (headphones), and have a celebrity in it and the kids will see the celebrity and go “Oh, that celebrity wears those headphones. I want them, too!”, but what if a person doesn’t like that celebrity? Now they don’t want those headphones because that celebrity endorses it. I think advertisers would be wise to not invest in paying for celebrities for endorsements.

Instead, show how cool you, the target audience would be cool wearing them. Show that they can be their own person. For instance, as kids we were shown commercials about Nerf guns, about kids getting them and being cooler than the other kids and friends. So why are we looking at celebrities? We don’t care if they are cool, they already are. We want to be cool or better. We are not looking to be the next “Big Sean” (apparently a big-deal, well known, rapper), we are looking to be the next big us!

What gets your attention about a product or service being advertised?

It depends what they are selling. Do I have a need for it? If they are showing it being used, that always helps. Show me that it works!

Keep in mind that I think advertisements for millennial men and women are different. Women idealize and want to have whatever a big celebrity has. Men want to be different than the rest. We (men) don’t see “Big Sean’s” shoes and want them.

At this point, my boyfriend's 23-year-old daughter Maddie walked in and stated, “If Kim Kardashian is wearing a something, now everybody wants its. Same with Kayne West shoes, all the guys want them. Guys are the same way.” (A debate ensued between the two of them. Her opinion is that a lot of men do the same thing and want to be like celebrities too. Chance disagreed. I’ll spare this gender difference for another time.)

Where do you feel like you get the best information about a product or service you're interested in?

Google. If you want information about it, you Google it. 9 times out of 10 you’ll find the website for the product or service and you’ll probably find forums or reviews about that product or service so you can get an idea about how it is.

And where would you hear/learn about these products or services in the first place?

Magic? That is a horrible question. That’s just one big variable. It depends on what we are talking about. You might see somebody in person with a product and ask them about it, then google it. You might see an advertisement online and then google it. You might watch a movie and they conveniently place something that you’ll google later.

Do you feel that certain online outlets are lacking or missing an opportunity to reach Millennials?

No. Marketing companies are lacking, but the outlets are not. For example, YouTube. People are making a living off of YouTube advertisements. We see an ad on every video we watch and our generation watches a lot of videos. Which means a lot of ads, some we can’t even skip.

Recently, Coca-Cola, Pepsi and bunch of other huge corporations pulled their advertising from YouTube. This is a perfect time for smaller companies to start advertising on YouTube. Why? These ads are played on every video, sometimes 30 seconds long, without the ability to be skipped. Let’s say you have a 30 second ad played before a “PewDiePie” video (the most subscribed person on YouTube- over 54 million subscribers). Now, let’s say just half of his subscribers watch his video, that means that half will see that ad. That means, 27 million people will see that 30 second ad. That’s over 8.1 million seconds of watch time of that ad. That’s huge exposure!

Who is “PewDiePie”?

“PewDiePie” is makes millions every year from playing video games on YouTube.

What drives you crazy or annoys you about advertising?

Painfully stupid, “Cringy” commercials. Such as a woman grabbing a bowl of chips and then magically losing her grip and the bowl of chips going everywhere.

Commercials with political tie-ins or unrealistic outcomes. For instance, Pepsi did a commercial of a riot where Kendal Jenner gives a riot officer a Pepsi, everybody flips out, everyone is now friends and the world is ok. Stupid. Unrealistic outcome.

What offends you or puts you off?

No, unlike the rest of my generation, I don’t get offended by anything. Nothing that advertisers or marketers do can offend me, it makes no sense. The only commercials that put me off are the political ones. Not because I’m offended it’s a certain candidate or figure, it’s that it’s always biased.

I guess if there were still ads with children smoking, I would probably be put off by that.

How and what should companies be doing to reach your generation better/more effectively?

They are not doing bad. They are on most of our online outlets. The only outlet that I know of, that could have more diversity of companies is, YouTube. YouTube used to be mostly consist of ads from Coca-Cola and other huge well-known companies. Until they pulled their advertising, now we have smaller, lesser known companies. If more companies advertise on YouTube, it would give them way more exposure and chance of reaching somebody for that product or service.


Did you learn anything about Millennials from this article? How would you approach your marketing differently to attract more Millennials?

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