The millennial generation is certainly more than the sum of its keystrokes (or its stereotypes). We are defined by the digital, but engage in earnest with the real world every day. We communicate in texts and tweets, but we build relationships on values impossible to capture in 140 characters.
That there should be some entanglement of technology and health should be no surprise.
What’s surprising to me, as a millennial, is how mystified brands and marketers in the nutrition space can be about a generation that reveals itself with every Facebook post and Instagram image.
We are certainly not a generation any brand can afford to ignore, and this first ever Nutrition Business Journal Millennial Issue brings us face-to-face with its complexities. At 92 million, the millennials dwarf the 61 million Gen Xers and even eclipse the 77 million baby boomers who so defined half of the 20th century. More than that, the NBJ research underpinning this issue reveals that those 92 million consumers, each a few inches of screen away from a purchase decision, are not only concerned about their health, they’re quantifying it, researching it, and taking charge of it. They’re ready to venture into new areas of wellness and natural solutions, and then share the results, maybe brag about it, too.
It’s also a generation that needs to be approached not in a different way but in a thousand different ways. No generation is monolithic, but the ability to find communities and sub-communities has splintered and segmented the millennial generation like no other. Each of those segments has a place or a hundred places to gather online. Each of those splinters might have a specific health concern and a specific way of talking about it. What might have once been a taboo topic becomes a badge of identity. The technology that allows those countless connections also allows access to data that previous generations never knew in their youth. Apps and activity monitors put numbers on health that a yearly cholesterol count could never accomplish. All of that becomes part of the conversations shared in ever-changing ways.
Reaching a generation both infinitely distracted and obsessively focused becomes an obvious challenge. Micro-targeting all those segments and splinters is a necessity, but staying ahead of the static is a never-ending quest. Millennials’ unquenchable appetite for information comes coupled with an affinity for alternative sources. They might not listen to, or even see, their doctor but they’ll follow an online influencer’s advice like gospel.
All of this makes my generation not a moving target but a million moving targets trending in a different direction every minute.
That’s good news. Seriously. All those moving targets are also sales targets, and just because they are moving at light speed doesn’t mean you can’t hit them. Millennials are talking about their needs faster and louder, in increasingly public forums, creating a constellation of connections far easier to reach than a generation sitting in front of a TV.
We’re the most connected generation. We can’t be that hard to find.
Get the Nutrition Business Journal Millennial Issue in the store.