Just how old are Millennials, exactly?
Webster’s dictionary defines Wikipedia as “the greatest crowd-sourced bank of knowledge of all time.” So, in true Millennial fashion, let’s start there, where they’ve broken down Millennials as:
- Consensus years of birth are between 1981 and 1996, though some claim as early as 1978 [no] and as late as 2001 [also, no].
- Bookended by Generation X [1965 – 1980] and Generation Z [1997 – 2014]
- By and large, the children of later Baby Boomers [1946 – 1964]
- Also sometimes called the Boomerang Generation, the Oregon Trail Generation, and for the older reaches, “X-ennials” [born between 1981 – 1986]
These definitions of the Millennial age range are pretty widely accepted at this point, with the Pew Research Center in 2019 determining our generation’s key, defining political, social, and economic events as the Great Recession, the September 11th attacks, and the advance of the Internet. At this point, 35% of the American workforce is considered a Millennial.
While we’re definitely not Generation X [walkmans were not new to us], nor Generation Z [but iPods were], there is some overlap in social mores and styles — especially considering ideas like political correctness [more towards Z], or willingness to take on incredible amounts of student debt [more towards X].
How does this translate for voice over?
- We’re that age 18-34 sweet spot, where we [hopefully] have the discretionary income advertisers want.
- We’re all adults, and we like to be talked to that way. Our parents ordered us around in one-way chatter [announcer voices], and we’d rather have a conversation about what we’re doing next. Announcer-style voice over is the advertising equivalent of Dad jokes, and we only like those ironically.
- We’re tech-savvy — after a generation of teaching our parents about these new-fangled “iPods, iPads, and iPaids,” we better be — and since we’re always on our devices, most, if not all, advertising should be catered to headphone-wearing mobile users.
Ads already cut through by popping up in the middle of us bingeing TV on the Radio’s catalogue while we’re working — unless it’s well-made sponsored content, they’ve already interrupted the experience.
In general, it’s far harder to persuade someone by interrupting them and getting pushy about it. But that’s a little what it feels like when the voice in an ad isn’t optimized for the classic Millennial day-to-day experience.
Oh, I get it: you need voice things tailored to you over everyone else. Typical Millennial.
Well, we don’t need it, but we’re much more responsive when it is, even if only slightly. Aren’t you?
A random number calls your phone. You answer hesitantly [no one ever does, but let’s say they do]. Which is going to illicit a better response: “Hello, Ms. Pendolino?” or “Hello, Maria?” One assumes formality, which usually means someone wants a student loan payment. The other assumes familiarity, which usually means “Netflix & chill.”
We’re not saying to take targeted advertising that far [please don’t do that], but we grew up with the Internet… which means, we don’t have to go to big box stores, no matter where we live — We’ve got greater autonomy than ever, from an earlier age than ever, to choose how we spend our money. We know there are other options out there.
That’s part of why eLearning is one of the fastest growing industries — and why eLearning gamification is such a fantastic concept. Not only can we learn at our own pace [which, let’s be honest, everyone should experience], but studies show we largely learn best experientially, instead of by rote/absorption. In fact, the latest stats estimate up to 150,000 apps are educational!
What does this mean for voice over that targets Millennials?
- Targeted advertising works, to a point. Sure, tell us about a deal happening in our general area. It’s the Internet; we basically know we’ve traded convenience for privacy. But going overboard is way creepy: we should never receive an ad on Insta that’ like, “6 Things To Do This Week If Your Name Rhymes With Meean Mishman.” No. No, no, no.
- Your voice has got to be engaging. And not engaging like a Kardashian, where any attention is somehow good attention. Engaging, like an old friend calling to say hello and tell you about something amazing they just found… or trusting you with a secret.
- TV has advertised to us all our lives, but our friends haven’t. That’s why word-of-mouth — and ads that recreate that kind of intimate exchange — work best for us. As soon as we hear something big & booming, we know what they’re after.
Millennial Voice Over pulls the listener in. The audience is doing us a favor by listening — they don’t have to, they can turn it off anytime. We make it worth their while.
But Millennials are everywhere, right? They sure seem to be.
Well… yes, and no. By definition, we have to be: we’re the largest purchasing demographic out there right now. So, yes: we are everywhere.
But by and large, and increasingly so, Millennials live in urban areas — particularly concentrating in cityscapes that offer vibrant arts & culture, shorter commutes, and decent-paying jobs: either in the form of entrepreneurship, or in “green” industries & tech.
Not surprisingly, with the push towards living in more concentrated areas, Millennials are driving the bus [and riding it, too!] on sustainable lifestyle choices — like “loca-vore” [locally sourced foods & goods], and greater support for small businesses doing cool things we love with less: whether it be a local coffee roaster, an upcyclery, or freelancing online as an independent contractor [hello!]. The opportunity to support small business is greater than ever, and plenty of Millennials are embracing it.
But, don’t forget: we grew up with the Internet [we mistakenly taught our parents how to text, after all], and with it, Millennials embrace changing technology much more quickly. Even those of us who live in rural areas know about Lyft… and to have some tact when posting on the Internet. All this boils down to a digitally connected generation that emphasizes loca-vore lifestyle — even if we mostly don’t want to chat on the phone, we still want to support our neighbors whenever possible.
How does this help your organization, looking for savvy ways to reach Millennials?
- Keep reaching for that young, hip, urban demographic, by hiring people who are of that young, hip, urban demographic. If you’re going to paint with a broad brush, that’s your best bet to capture as many of us as possible.
- Share your company’s roots and mission when possible. Thanks to the Internet, we’re more socially conscious [and self-conscious] than any generation before us. If you’ve got a relatable hook that plays into your story, we’re all ears.
- Emphasize sustainability over status. Increasingly, sustainability is status for us… especially as Millennials put more aspiration towards experiences over goods. Blundstones are stylish, but they also last years. No wonder Millennials are reaching for them more and more.
- Don’t fear change. We’re increasingly adaptable, and we expect our purchases to be that way, too.
I listened to your voices, and then just scrolled all the way down. What’s your point, Millennials?
Advertise with us, not at us. Keep it chill & conversational to be most successful.
Want to learn more about Millennials and voice over? Check out “Millennial Marketing: Why and How” for extra credit! No trophies given, though. Sorry.
Think Maria or Ian might be the right voice for you? Hit us up anytime; we’re always happy to audition.