Marketing to Snake People: We’re Just Like You
Don't adjust your computer screens, you read that right. And thanks to a new and hilarious browser extension for Google Chrome, you can be reading the words "Snake People" everywhere that you'd normally see "millennials." Browsing common business or news sites with it enabled really highlights the absolute absurdity that surrounds the misunderstanding of my generation. That's right: I'm a snake person. Or, millennial, that is.
And really, I want to be treated like an individual, just like anyone would! Like a real person, and not a mythical, intangible aesthetic, or another out-there statistic. Per Shakespeare: "If you prick the snake people, doth we not bleed?" We're certainly not a stereotype — and arguably, we're the most resistant generation to being put into a category, like many marketers and researchers try to do.
It's understandable. Every generation has separation anxiety and angst about becoming like their parents. Gen X was different from the Boomers who were different from the Silent Generation who wanted to step out from the shadow of the Greatest Generation and so on and so forth. In the same way, we millennials are different from our forefolks, but not to an extreme. I'm sure in 50 years I'll be sitting on my front porch complaining about "kids these days," too.
A great example of this is home ownership. I see lots of articles that go something like "Well, look at how they're the renting generation! Millennials aren't stable and they won't own homes." It's a bit early to make predictions like that. More balanced research — like this amazing interactive infographic from Goldman Sachs — point out the fact that possibly the millennial trend away from home buying could be due to a great number of factors, including a tempestuous economic period we grew up in, rather than an inherent aversion.
A big reason behind misunderstanding of millennials is that the data is still coming in, as the generation grows towards maturity. So there have been conflicting reports, as the youngest are still in high school and college years, while the oldest are twentysomethings. There's no reason to lose your head when trying to market to millennials, because of the latest report that says millennials are doing something differently. Just keep it real — making connections between genuine needs and services is what good direct marketing has always been about, after all.