Why It’s Time to Drop the Word ‘Millennial’

Drop the word millennial

As a college student, advertising major, blogger and avid social media user, I hear the term ‘millennial’ WAY too many times every day. To put it bluntly, the word ‘millennial’ is outdated and irrelevant. There are plenty of other words that can be used to describe 20-something’s, a generation and young voters. In case you can’t tell, I feel very strongly about this topic and in my opinion, for good reason. Keep reading to learn more about why ‘millennial’ has got to go.

I remember ‘millennial’ first becoming a buzzword my senior year of high school. Everyone was talking about how today’s millennials are the laziest generation yet. We’re so used to having technology and being able to multitask that we would be dumbfounded, lost puppies without it. Clearly, we’re off to a great start.

Coming to college as a freshman in the fall of 2013, ‘millennial’ was basically the only word I heard. From student organizations named ‘millennial voters’ to ‘millennial business leaders,’ fliers reading ‘trends of the millennials’ to ‘Beat the stereotype! Don’t be a lazy millennial,’ this buzzword was literally everywhere. Once I started taking advertising classes, it seemed that the only words that anyone knew were millennial, trends, and research. As I began to learn about my own generation from an advertising perspective, I just became upset. Millennials from a demographic stand point include those born between 1985 and 2001. That’s almost a 20-year age gap. Does it bother anyone else how big of an age gap that is? For example, I was born in 1994, my sister was born in 2001. There is a 7 year age difference between the two of us. From an advertising perspective (really, any perspective), the needs and wants of a twenty-one year old should be different from the needs and wants of a fourteen-year old.

(More on the blog: A Letter to My 25-Year Old Self)

The age gap isn’t the only thing that doesn’t seem right. Millennials are constantly labeled not only by advertising professionals, but by the media, politicians, and everyone else as insatiable, multi-tasking, technology obsessed, trouble makers. Quite the complement, right?

Until a few weeks ago, I thought I would have to bite my tongue over my beef with this terminology until one of my advertising professors, oddly enough, said very bluntly that ‘millennial’ is no longer working to encapsulate this generation like they had hoped. She found that the largest reason for this was, you guessed it, the HUGE age range that ‘millennial’ is supposed to capture. She went on to say that this 20-year age gap includes people who fit into so many different niches (including those who are ‘niche less’) that a definition of ‘millennial’ would have to be so vague to include everyone that the word would become meaningless. Which brings me to the moral of the story…

There is an abundance of other words to use in order to accurately describe people that aren’t the word ‘millennial.’ In advertising, we call these other words psychographics. In essence, these types of descriptions allow for a more colorful picture of the target consumers’ personalities. This is done in order to get a better idea of the implicit needs and wants of our consumers.This raises one big question: Since we’re being taught to describe the personalities of target consumers, why don’t we describe one another that way?

(More on the blog: Guest Post: Ways to Put Yourself on Your Priority List)

Here are just a few words and phrases you could use to describe yourself, your friends, your generation with that aren’t ‘millennial:’ adventurous, travel-thirsty, curious, family-oriented, multi-tasker, foodie, well-read, athletic, competitive, detail-oriented, homebody and creative. Like I said, those are just a few options; there’s an entire dictionary filled with other options. Don’t limit to defining yourself in terms of how media classifies you for simplicity’s sake. You are a much more interesting person than the media portrays or wants you to believe – prove it to yourself!

How do you feel about the word ‘millennial?’


25 thoughts on “Why It’s Time to Drop the Word ‘Millennial’

  1. Anna says:

    I never realized that the term “millennial” encapsulated such a large age range! With technology advancing as rapidly as it is, I don’t think we can label 20 year olds and 14 year olds the same thing. Even though there are only 6 years difference, the way we grew up varied immensely. If I had to label myself as anything, it would be ambitious and passionate!
    -Anna | http://www.fivefootandfabulous.com

  2. Jenny says:

    I actually always thought it was weird that they defined that huge age range as millennials. As 90s kids, although we did come in contact with technology at a fairly young age, it wasn’t booming when we were born so I think that’s just one of many things that differentiate us from the younger millennials.

    Amazing post!

    xoxo, Jenny

  3. Tiffani says:

    I love all of your points! I never really thought twice about the word, until I saw some way younger people calling themselves millennials, and I was totally thrown off! I think it’s great to have a term that describes a specific group of people, but one attempting to define people of such differences, not only in age, but in demographics is totally not cool. I always hate being “stereotyped” as something, and I think any term that has to be used for such a large group, can’t really be positive!
    Seriously, you put so many of my feelings in to words with this. Thanks for sharing it Kristine!

  4. Tiffany Khyla says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever minded using the word Millennial because to me, it has never had any kind of negative connotation. Personally, I use it more as just a general term to describe people around my age. I know people have different definitions for it, but to me, millennials just kind of encompass 20-somethings. I think everyone uses it differently. I totally get what you’re saying here though. Interesting perspective.

  5. Cristina says:

    We were just talking about this in my marketing class! I feel like eventually our generation will be renamed when it comes to the era we grew up which is still to be determined. We could be the “Social media generation” or something like that! It’ll be interesting to see what we are referred to ten years from now!


  6. Alex says:

    I love this! I never thought about it before you posted this. I didn’t know it was such a wide age group, though. Some that are even 50’consider themselves millennials. So strange!

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