MARKETING TO MILLENNIALS: SALES GENIUS OR TIRED TROPE?
Should we really still be trying to jam our marketing strategy into some odd and arbitrary generational niche, or are we just being lazy? As someone sitting pretty well right on the border between the Gen X and Millennial generations, I realize that I’m not actually the target of these tactics, so perhaps I’m pulling the bitter old grump card. However, sometimes, the whole Millennial milieu gets a bit tired. You’ve likely seen more than once on LinkedIn the NEW! INSIGHTS! into “Working with Millennials”. The article then goes on to trot out the same old line about how attached the entire generation is to their work-life balance, to their tech and to making a difference in the world. How broad is that brush we’re painting with? That could describe just about anyone. I recently came across an article in the Edmonton Metro about a new boutique hotel opening in the downtown. The hotel, to be known as The Crash Hotel, is replacing an aging Edmonton landmark. The Old Grand Hotel is being refurbished to turn it into a hostel-inspired hotel and bar. It’s actually a pretty well established concept.
So what makes The Crash different?According to the Edmonton designers behind the idea, this hotel won’t be “your parents’ hotel”. Meaning that they are targeting a younger audience with a more “connected” outlook. The newly designed Edmonton space apparently brings that all so essential community feel that Millennials and Gen Xers crave. There are communal areas for hooking up your devices, shared bathrooms, rooms with bunkbeds, lower price point. Definitely some features that appeal to the young at heart, the traveller, the price conscious. But to Millennials specifically? Why? Shouldn’t it instead be trying to capture exactly the person that I described above?
A New Millennial Thing? Not ReallyHostels do appeal to a certain niche, but they are not a new idea. According to Wikipedia, the first hostel that we’d recognize as such opened in 1912. They’ve been a unique and vibrant alternative to stuffy hotels for over a hundred years. That’s not new. At this point, it’s no longer even unique.
Whenever we try to scoop up such an arbitrary section of the population and jam them into our marketing, we risk alienating the actual core consumer we actually need to target. We run into the problem of trying to be everything to everyone, only to end up being nothing to anyone. So to The Crash Hotel in Edmonton (and to the lazy writers of Edmonton Metro), I say do your research, find your niche, and cut out this lazy over-reliance on arbitrary dates of birth to base your marketing efforts. You’ll have a better designed strategy if you do. Thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!