In our last blog in this series on Millenials, we analyzed different Millennial ethnic and racial groups, and the ways in which communications professionals are able to target them. Ethnicity is not the only sub-segment of Millennials which should be observed closely; gender should also be a target consideration in your PR plans.
Social media sites seem to resonate equally with both genders, but there are a few exceptions. Pinterest, a world of homemade treats and DIY tutorials caters to the 72 percent of female users. Surprisingly, Twitter users are sixty-two percent female while music-based sites such as Spotify are used more regularly by males. Not only are gender differences seen in digital media use, but also in purchases. Several years ago, Millennial Marketing explored the purchases of flat screen televisions among Millennials. They found young women thought of a flat screen purchase as a piece of art, something that would make a statement about them in their living room. Young men were focused on the viewing experience, especially the sound and theatre-like picture.
Although marketers are inclined to think gender-oriented, it can be overlooked by many PR professionals who are not rehearsed in targeting audiences. The trick to broadening your gender-based thinking is research. By exploring the characteristics of females and males, you can refine your communications strategy to be very specific to your target market. To give you a start, Nielsen has defined a few personal characteristics and technology consumption habits of males and females of the Millennial Generation:
- Humor: Males – Slapstick, edgy and sarcastic versus Females – Silly, off beat and non-mean spirited
- Tone and Theme: Males – Action-oriented, competitive, identifies with “normal” guys in extreme situations versus Females – High-energy, strong role models, relate to an aspirational approach
- Technology: – Males – Look at practicality versus Females: Interested in “look what it can do” abilities
It’s clear that Millennial men and women have definable attributes when purchasing or using a product. Decision Making Confidence states, “Women use other people’s opinions to help make their own decision. Men use other people’s decisions to help them form their own opinion.” In other words, women like to investigate why other women made the choice they did, while men are satisfied knowing other men are happy having made the same decision as they did.
Despite the distinctions between genders, marketers and communications professionals must be careful to what degree they target using these precedents. Many gender specific lines have been blurred thought out the Millennial Generation and there have been failed marketing strategies to prove it. In 2011, Dr. Pepper launched their new diet soda, aiming to draw in the younger male demographic. The slogan “It’s not for women” was plastered on their campaign which featured aggressive and frankly, sexist advertisements. What Dr. Pepper failed to realize, was that testosterone-happy theme is an outdated concept for male Millennials. Two years later, the slogan was changed to “The manliest low calorie soda in the history of mankind.” This second, lighter, male-targeted slogan has gained approval and has been successful for the company. Ultimately, if Millennials are your target it’s best to conduct your own, original research to understand what messages engage this demographic and what differences, if any, there might be between males and females.
In summary, organizations must be thoughtful when targeting genders. Millennials are able to pick out what is fake, and if a company is trying too hard to target a specific audience. Sometimes with the right strategy, you don’t have to choose which gender to market to. Companies like Dolce and Gabbana have created a gender-neutral fragrance and market it based on personality traits rather than gender distinctions. Gender specific campaigns or not, remembering to gut check your approach, even informally, with this audience can be a sure-fire way to introduce a successful product or service.