In 2014 I hosted a one-day conference The Next Generation of Consumers. It went well, we had an engaged audience and an insightful panel. Though my co-organisers and I realised something quite major that day – the most common question we got asked post-event was ‘what is a millennial?’ It seems people weren’t as enthusiastic about this as we were.
Fast forward two years, and we’ve all matured, of course. So much is now connected to youth marketing and the millennial question(s). How do young people want to engage with my brand? How will I sell to them in the future? What’s the point of SnapChat? There was a point when you couldn’t move for ‘17 things you need to know about the future employees’ blogposts. The specimen of the millennial hit our timelines and our marketing reports overnight. So now it wasn’t about ‘what is a millennial’ but ‘what does a millennial do and think and buy?
Thankfully, we got even smarter than this – today’s millennial press release is less of the generalisations and the stereotyping and more sophisticated analysis. More and more, we’re giving this topic the attention it deserves and noticing the nuances. We’re taking this generation seriously and investing in closer understanding. Finally. As employers and brands, we’re gaining so much from the insights that are available; it’s great to see – even if it is a couple of years later than expected.
So earlier this year my latest co-workers and I were considering what we could contribute next to the youth marketing conversation. And for us, the answer is in just that – a conversation. Something that’s a little more two-way. Now we think it’s about doing more than research but about working with, actually integrating this generation. Let’s get them off the pages of a report and into the environments that they’re having such an impact on. And talk about timing. The creatures are just about old enough to join the workforce. A person born in 1998 can now drink in a bar.
The mission is to get brands and businesses even closer to seeing this group as less of a demographic and more of a really valuable resource, of skills, ideas and knowledge. In turn, they’re so much these young people have to offer, beyond being goldfish in a bowl so we can stare at them.
Last week we launched Incredibly Skilled. For this first programme, we’ve partnered with LDN Group who provide apprenticeships to businesses and tech firms in London. We’re running an intensive training programme over two weeks for 40 young people who are looking for opportunities in digital. Each day is led by a different marketing professional and covers a particular part of marketing or comms. We’ve invited brands – from new emerging startups to household names – to come and give the group a real brief to work on.