COM0014 – Blog #3: Know Your Audience



Photo Credit: Abacus Data


They’re more than just a buzzword used to describe 20-somethings who (their parents would say) have never had it easier; they’re Canada’s fastest-growing age demographic, and a must-know age group for marketers, employers, politicians and other influencers.

As a fellow millennial, I find the hypotheses and criticisms cast toward our generation too entertaining to be insulting. If I were to take issue with one comment on millennials, it is the treatment of the generation as one homogenous group. And while this is a simple way to demographically identify the millennial audience (born 1985 or later), a psychographic look at this age-cohort reveals that not all millennials are alike.

I am fortunate enough to be office mates with Dr. David Coletto, who is the CEO of Abacus Data, a polling and market research firm in Ottawa. David was the first market research professional to create archetypes for Canadian millennials which can help businesses, decision makers and social scientists group millennials by more than simply their age. They have invested time and research into determining the different “types” of millennials that exist, and how those looking to make an impact with millennials should approach each archetype.

It is important to acknowledge that more goes into a demographic makeup than age. For example, the millennial archetypes pictured above are generally Caucasian and (at least not outwardly projected) of a particular religious belief. If targeting, for example, Muslim Canadian millennials, you may want to use a different outreach strategy than for those born and raised in Perth, for example.  But even within the millennial archetypes above, there are more differences than similarities in terms of ambitions, goals, and outlooks.

The archetypes that Abacus Data has identified are: Achiever, Stampeder, Pacer, Simple Lifer, Firefly, and Spark. All of these different millennial types consume differently and place priority on certain items over others. For example, the Achiever is far more likely to make family their priority than the Firefly, who’s priority is their friends. The simple lifer places a larger priority on saving for a home than the pacer, who’s looking for the latest technology to buy. These buying habits and goal setting differences are big ones particularly for marketers, who are trying to narrow their offering as much as possible for different audiences. It is simply not enough to say “the iPhone will appeal to millennials” – it may for some, but not for all. And what apps are they using within it (the calendar function, Evernote, or Candy Crush)?

After creating the archetypes, the next step would be to find out where these audiences are … and in all cases for the archetypes above, being online matters. However, the platforms they use are different. For instance, the Pacer may be more likely to be on Reddit than the Stampeder, who may be more interested in YouTube channels with new workouts and fitness regimines. Similarly, the Acheiver may look to Twitter for news, where as the Spark could consult more progressive media sources like Upworthy.

There is no denying that millennials are making a big impact in Canada – be it through their voting trends or spending behaviours.   Those looking to make an impact on millennials would be wise to invest time into determining exactly which subset of the group they want to speak to (through monitoring and research), and pick up on the language, tone etc. that they use to converse with each other.


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