I recently handed a coworker and fellow millennial an article about millennial homebuyers from the Star Tribune. I mentioned that I actually agreed with most of the opinions in it – which can be pretty rare for any article attempting to dissect the inner workings of our generation. Most of them seem pretty focused on negative qualities. At this point I think we’re all well aware that the invention of avocado toast has signaled the downfall of human civilization and any pass at explaining such chaos is a waste of time.
Still, I found some of the points of this article relatable. In the article the writer focuses on what these homebuyers are looking for in a home. It states there has been shift in desire for large spaces outside the city to smaller homes with a good location closer to metro areas. The article interviewed just three millennial families and showed the similarities in their requirements for a home. It also covers some of their aesthetic inclinations and has interior designers weigh-in with tips for appeasing their tastes when preparing to sell a home.
My coworker was beside himself. He vehemently disagreed with much of what the article was showing. I was a little surprised. Truth is I have my own biases about the people I share an age range with. The brain is hard-wired to take the path of least resistance and categorize when it’s convenient to do so. Even in marketing we try hard to create messages that are as broadly appealing as possible. Targeted, but always careful, keeping in mind that any form of alienation, no matter how small, could result in lost business.
There is another side to this coin, however. Personalized or individual marketing also has its strengths. With the technology available today, marketing tactics like emails can use details about how customers interacted with a company’s website, or their last few product purchases, to craft a personalized, relevant message based on their actions. We can customize things that are seemingly innocuous. Like the color of the button to increase clicks. The complex personas we assemble for potential clients are all about empathy. In their shoes, what would we want or even better what would we expect? If we know expectations then we can more easily exceed them.
While I found things to agree with in the millennial article, because of the small sample set there are probably plenty of people, like my coworker, who wouldn’t. This brings home the point that generalizations about a group as large as a generation (even supported by a small sample group) does more harm than good especially in marketing. The lesson I learned before, here, and probably will again in the future? Everyone is different and it’s those differences that provide an opportunity to create a personal and thoughtful message that’s effective for your client.