My daughter is a Millennial and just had a baby.

She didn’t go vegan during pregnancy, didn’t cloth-diaper her daughter, isn’t home-schooling her either and has no plans to run her household as a mini-democracy.

She did however plaster baby photos all over Facebook and Instagram, and seek parenting advice from her friends. She received her share of trophies — but they were earned the hard way.

In other words, Angie doesn’t match the Millennials described in Time magazine’s 2015 cover story on how Millennials raise their kids.

But few Millennials fit that narrow stereotype – which is the problem with marketing to Millennials.

Unless you’re selling quasi-legal products such as alcohol or tobacco, it’s rarely a good idea to target an entire generation and assume all have similar behaviors and characteristics

Painting an entire generation with the same broad brush may sell magazines — but it doesn’t make for good marketing.

Financial marketers moved away from age segmentation marketing decades ago with the emergence of digital media.   Prior to that time we assumed consumers within the same age group purchased the same products. Twenty-somethings, for instance, needed credit, thirtysomethings were saving for a mortgage, forty-somethings – well, you get it – and we used direct mail to reach them.

This was a very inefficient, clumsy and primitive approach.

The emergence of digital media enabled us to deliver custom messages to specific audiences which both reduced costs and increased response.

Before targeting younger people, consider asking whether Millennials are your best target. Other age segments have higher potential.   General Xers have higher rates of savings, more discretionary income and more loyalty. Baby Boomers are in peak income years, and may want financial planning assistance.

There are many legitimate reasons to seek younger customers – to stem attrition, grow desirable prospects or acquire more borrowers. But if you pursue Millennials – or any audience – it’s important to define your audience more precisely. Ask, which type of Millennials do you want to reach? Savers, borrowers or investors?

Millennials who sleep on their mother’s couch, and shop instead of save may not be ideal candidates. How do you avoid poor prospects and focus only on the best?   A good solution is to segregate the general population into lifestyles based on their likelihood of using certain financial products.

Nielsen offers a program called P$CYLE which divides the country into 47 different lifestyles based on financial product consumption. Select the lifestyles of those you are interested in reaching – that may be those who use credit cards, take out home equity loans, or buy blue-chip stocks. Reach them with a mailer, perhaps supplemented with an officer call program. You’ll find it a productive, cost-efficient means of soliciting and converting quality leads.

Another option is to append lifestyle information to your customer database. Once segregated customers by product usage, you’ll see the lifestyles which are your best prospects for each product.

When mailing prospects, make sure you personalize the copy to the values and interests of the audience. Each P$YCLE segment, for instance, includes a description of common social behaviors associated with the population. Certain groups may tend to read books, play video games, watch soccer games or enjoy camping. Writers can use this information to make the copy relevant.

Consider the attitude of Millennials towards banks. They love the mobile banking services of big institutions but dislike big banks themselves. They prefer to use community banks but don’t think they offer the latest mobile features or have extensive branch or ATM networks. Use this information to emphasize your strengths and break negative misperceptions.

In summary, descriptions of millennials should not be taken as facts to be acted on but as a context for understanding the audience. As in a painting, we may focus on the qualities of the subject but we gain richer insight when we view it against its backdrop and envision the interplay between the two.

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