Generational Segmentation Doesn’t Work Anymore

Marketers have been using generational labels for decades – because it’s easy. But in the new age of digital marketing, segmenting and identifying consumers based on generations has become an outdated and overgeneralized practice.

You’re probably tired of hearing the term “Millennial,” though we’re all guilty of it.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on Millennial consultants, who make up to $20,000 a hour for telling Fortune 500 companies like Oracle and Time Warner how to make young people happy. The media has relentlessly portrayed the Millennial generation as an alien species through popular stereotypes, but who are they exactly?

Generation Y (1980-2000) is the largest, most diverse, and most digitally dependent demographic group in the US. However, (1) firms often ignore the first two points and (2) they fail to see that digital dependence is a global trend, not a generational characteristic.

Naturally, not everyone is going to fit in his or her generational mold. Especially in regards to technology, the digital revolution has spread beyond any single demographic, and it’s here to stay. 71% of the entire adult population ages 18-65+ are now on Facebook, and the number is expected to rise. If you’re working on the next Facebook, you might be tempted to focus all your time marketing to Millennials, who seem to practically live in the virtual world; but for all you know, your biggest market may lie elsewhere.

What should you do then? Go back to the fundamental core of digital marketing – data. With the tools available today, you can learn how your audience wants to buy, where they live, what they’ve bought, and their preferred method of payment. Instead of segmenting your audience on something as broad and vague as age, segmenting your audience using multidimensional analytics can bring you a much higher ROI.