Reaching Millennials: Don’t Believe the Hype – YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES

In keeping up with blogs, research, and ideally all things Millennial, I generally tend to come across well-intentioned but TERRIBLE advice. The latest was on a staffing company’s website encouraging human resource departments to create new, Millennial-friendly corporate handbooks. A fine idea for corporations, but incredibly flawed in execution – which is why I’m pointing out an alternate solution that everyone can use.

To keep things short(ish) and sweet,  I’ve decided to summarize below (though if you REALLY wanted to see the original in all it’s glory, you MIGHT find it in my @millennier tweets, and it MIGHT be under TRAGIC MILLENNIAL ADVICE: PIMP MY CO.S HANDBOOK…).

Everyone in the wine industry can learn from this far too common mistake.

The information was found on the company’s website  from June 2009.  The title of the piece was Create a GenY-Friendly Employee Handbook, and like many of these pieces, it was fairly insulting in an odd, benign way.  In the How to Write a Handbook section, the writer suggests personalizing it with current events and fads in order to really get through to us.  It gives the following suggestion as an example:  “compare customers to stars competing for ‘American Idol’ stardom.” While I realize that we may be younger than the person giving this advice, WE ARE NOT CHILDREN.  We do not need a company to create a mascot and a “let’s pretend” example for every single situation we may encounter in the big, bad world.  While I have plenty to say on this topic, I’m going to stop because the point here is that this NOT GOOD ADVICE.

I do want to say in all seriousness GOOD FOR YOU, STAFFING COMPANY. Thank you for putting in the effort to encourage your clients to support their Millennial employees. Unfortunately, you COMPLETELY MISS THE BOAT.

Not on a boat

Not on a boat

Is it a bad idea to want a handbook for a company that will resonate with Millennials and get them excited about the company that they work for?  No. In fact it just might work, if it’s done well.  What will that take?  American Idol allusions?  In depth research on gen Y?  Watching Family Guy reruns from the first season?  NO.  It simply takes a Millennial.  If these companies selected a couple employees in their target group to actually write the new handbook, it would be completely customized to their own tastes and interests while communicating all the information a handbook needs to get across.

I don’t understand this trend.  Business has realized what a powerful consumer group we Millennials are, enough to launch campaigns for millions of dollars just to win gen Y hearts – and yet most don’t even think to reach out to us to help shape these campaigns.

Everyone in the wine industry can learn from this far too common mistake.  Many businesses are creating their Facebook pages, holding events (hooray!), and thinking of new ways to reach out to gen Y.  Yes, research is great – I recommend that you check out the links on the side of the blog for some awesome resources. However, an invaluable tool that we all have ARE THE MILLENNIALS THEMSELVES.  Consult your gen Y children, your neighbor’s kid that’s back from college for the summer, your intern, your new tasting room employee – these people can give you valuable feedback and help to shape each of your projects.  Listen to their critiques, learn from their approach – it will save you time and energy and give you a direct line in to the consumer group you want to reach.

If you want to reach out to gen Y, don’t overlook the Millennials right in front of you – they could be the most valuable resources at your disposal.



Filed under Basics, Growth, Marketing, Myths & Legends, Outreach, Tragic Millennial Advice

15 responses to “Reaching Millennials: Don’t Believe the Hype – YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES

  1. Love it! great info and a good critique of bad marketing. Keep up the good work!

  2. Absolutely agree with you.

    The 2000’s have seen the rebirth of the huckster… everyone thinks they’re a millennial expert. While we’re certainly different than any other generation, we’re not so different that it eludes common sense.

    We want respect. We demand fairness in all dealings.

    Your post is dead-on. Feel free to guest-write any time about this on Psychotic Resumes.

    -Nick Armstrong

  3. To what extent do you think your generation can be defined? I know it’s useful to lump a group of people together to discuss a marketing strategy, but do you feel there are enough commonalities among millennials to discuss you as a group?

    Generational marketing makes sense in terms of lifecycles (e.g., young parents, college students, retirees), and it also makes sense in terms of cultural references (e.g., using popular 1960s music to connect with boomers), but in terms of values, goals, etc., do you feel millennials share similar world views or buying patterns?

    • Suzanne,

      This is a GREAT question. I would recommend you check out the March 27th post, specifically under Millennials Are A Generation, Not a Type as well as Carol Phillips’ response post on her fabulous blog, Millennial Marketing.

      The Millennial Generation has been defined AS A GROUP by the universal experiences that we have shared: growing up with the explosion of the internet and instantaneous communication, baby boomer parents, recession, mass higher education, etc. These shared experiences have given each individual certain traits and tastes that we all share with each other. I don’t pretend to know how or why – though I’m dying to find out, I’ll leave it to to sociologists for now. I do think we share similar ideals and world views on a very basic level – and these shared ideals and POVs inform our tastes, which inform our buying patterns. Again, it’s up to each brand to educate themselves in order to appeal directly and effectively to us.

      The important thing to remember when you’re attempting to reach out to us as a generation is to appeal to these shared traits, tastes, and beliefs, rather than grouping all together based on a certain stereotype. There’s some amazing research out there, one example is here – an opinion piece in the LA Times by the authors of Millennial Makeover.

      So while there are infinite shades of grey (again, see the March 27 post), my answer to you is YES. I do believe there are plenty of commonalities among millennials to discuss us as a group.

      Thanks for the fabulous comment/discussion!

  4. Woman, you ROCK!!!!! Once again, another easy to read, ACTIONABLE post! But what am I going to do with all my ‘Family Guy’ (1st season) hand puppets I created for marketing to Millennials????? 😉

    And taking a page from your book, I have a few questions for you, Oh Queen of the Wine Drinking Millennials!

    1) Many wineries feel Millennials are attracted to image heavy, Flash websites — is this correct?

    2) What makes you want to return to a winery website (WW)?

    3) What irritates you the most about WW’s?

    4) What do you like the most about WW’s?

    5) What do you look for in a WW?

    6) And lastly, do you ever google for wineries and if so, what keyword phrases do you use?

    And I would LOVE any other info you can give in regards to Millennials and WW’s! If its cool with you, I’d like to include your responses in my blog (unless you beat me to it!) 😉

    • Rachell,

      THANK YOU!!! First of all, I have to apologize – I spelled your name wrong in my @millennier retweet today. Sry…

      I don’t know if people realize this, but Rachell is kind of a big deal and provides all sorts of valuable info for FREE on her company’s Wine Marketing blog . I have SO MUCH TO SAY to every question that you’ve asked here – I mean seriously opinionated and possibly a bit rude, but I can only speak for myself as a Millennial consumer. I’ll be answering all of these questions to Rachell directly, so stay tuned to her blog to see the answers.

      And re: the 1st season Family Guy hand puppets… I could probably take them off your hands…

  5. Pingback: TibTV » Blog Archive » Reaching Millennials – DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE

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  7. I should duck from a sure cascade of rocks from the wine PR/marketing types but… here goes –

    All this millennial marketing talk is both interesting and disappointing to me. Admitting sellers of product (e.g. wine) must seek a market – else find something different to do.

    On the other hand, are these young folks just a market to be exploited? My family believes sharing the wine lifestyle is a worthy endeavor.
    That’s why on a small scale, we pursue everything from growing, to making, to lodging and social/educational activities.

    For small wineries, marketing is a necessity but generally not a choice, I’ve never really wanted to work at selling wine just making good wine – however it’s hard to have one without the other.

    Avoiding a marketing faux pas helps remove barriers to communicating with millennials – thus a good thing…

    …and so I appreciate Leah’s (and others) millennial posts and wisdom greatly. Thank you.

  8. Leah,

    What a great post. I am a baby boomer, but my partners are millennials. They have taught me so much. We boomers need to learn to talk/think less and listen more.


  9. Pingback: Millennials: Moving Home is an Option | Millennial Marketing

  10. Doe ODea

    Hi Leah, It is great to read your articles. I work in the wine industry on the marketing side. Do you think are millennials into packaging? What do you think of current wine labels? What kind of labels are millennials interested in? What would you rate as the best wine label/s for women?
    Bye for now

  11. Good blogpost, great looking weblog, added it to my favorites!!

  12. is the author of this blog and a member of the millennial generation. She is the owner of Millennier, Inc. a marketing and design firm that specializes in reaching millennials through creative content and social media. She’s been an Advisor for the Pivot Conference in NYC, and recently lead the panel on millennials in the 2011 Unified Wine & Grape Symposium. She has been quoted in AdAge for her unique take on reaching millennials, and in Wine Enthusiast Magazine for her work in the wine industry.

  13. Pingback: Millennials: Moving Home is an Option | Millennial Marketing

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