Millennials are always cited as a key demographic, but data has made it easier to segment markets more finely. Source: Shutterstock

Data analytics: A marketer’s solution to understanding millennials

THE MILLENNIAL is both a much-maligned demographic and a deeply studied segment of the global population that has caused much consternation and captured the unwavering attention of marketers everywhere.

Why is this the case? To my mind, the ‘millennial’ audience troubles people the world over because they’re a demographic that’s upending the way we think about content, ideas and how we share them. The millennial generation grew up alongside the rise of the Internet, and so they grew up as digital natives with differing consumption habits and demands compared to segments that marketers and businesses are more used to reaching out to.

Millennials represent for brands the labor of having to totally readjust how they think about approaching their audiences, they’re costly because they’re different and brands are having to readjust their strategies to accommodate new ways of presenting messages and visions. So how do marketers do this precisely?

Fortunately, the technology available today has changed the game for marketers who still buy into traditional ideas about how to target their clients’ audiences. Businesses and brands today are empowered by extremely sophisticated data analytics technology which is allowing them to finely segment the market way beyond just age.

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“It’s about access. It defies geography, it defies language,” said Walker Jacobs, the COO of FANDOM Media, at the All That Matters conference in Singapore. “With this access and with these digital natives, there’s actually a culture even within the age groups that’s probably based on education and income.”

millennial, Asian, shoppers

Segmenting your audience by age may not be the most effective strategy. Source: Shutterstock

Jacobs spoke on a panel considering the wisdom of labeling demographics based on age group. Alongside Jacobs was Philip Kitcher, the vice president of Styehaul’s Asia Pacific branch; Susana Tsui, the APAC CEO of media corporation, PHD; Karl Mak, the CEO of Hepmil Media Group; and Chantal van Wijnbergen, Jetstar Airways’ head of marketing and PR.

Overall, panelists agreed that trying to parse out audiences on the basis of age and generational splits was not a good enough approach to branding today. The power of data analytics today means that marketers are able to target their audiences more effectively beyond just their age, but really slice the cake thinly to include interests, geography, needs and so on.

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“Data is the difference maker and it’s what separates us from traditional media,” said Mak of Hepmil, who further added that the data has helped them really narrow down on what kind of content different parts of their audiences want to see. Data can be so effective that it can even help determine what kinds of formats work best for specific kinds of information.

“We started experimented with content delivery, studying if video should be this format or some other format. What about the timing? What about the user journeys throughout the week? The data is critical for understanding how to deliver content at the right time, on the right topics, is going to be a key difference makers for brand building.”

millennial, asian millennial

Data can reveal crucial consumer behaviors that can help marketers and brands build their message effectively and accurately. Source: Shutterstock

“In our earlier discussions, we talk a lot about targeting classically, segmenting and targeting,” said Tsui of PHD.

“That is in turn now problematic because a lot of that now we automatically jump into an unconscious bias about how we want to target age groups, gender. But with technology and digital, it doesnt really matter what how old I am, or what gender I am.

“I think the old school of demographic targeting has jumped into advanced data targeting with which you can really do much more accurate predictive modelling.”

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“Millennials is a lazy way of defining a diverse audience,” said Kitcher of Stylehaul. “If I think about my generation, we were much less critical of messaging. Now there’s so much fragmentation, there’s so much messaging, and there’s so much push back.”

“One of the challenges that brands have is to do storytelling that can connect audiences with brands based on authentic, sincere, relatable messages. Tech and innovation is allowing us to be much smarter about that.”

Data is a great way for brands to think about how they want to build perceptions of their companies. Information that can be gleaned from data can tell you a lot about what people care about, about what’s the most effective way of reaching them, and what really pushes them to take that final step towards purchasing.

Segmenting millennials into an age group is a great way to communicate a plan or idea, but what’s really effective for brands is the ability to discover personas of potential customers. Data can help brands realize what their customers look like, what their friction points are, what their different experiences are. “Whatever we do comes down to the personas,” said van Wijnbergen of Jetstar. “You can learn much faster.”