My Millennial Strategy Is My Multicultural Strategy And Other Urban Myths

Yes, the 72-million strong Millennial generation is coming into their own and starting to buy stuff. Enamored marketers are salivating (or running scared) at the prospect of serving them. Older marketers and students of consumerism remember the defining impact of the last mega-generational cohort, the Baby Boomers; how they shaped consumer trends, created categories of products and services, and generally made or broke one’s business success.

Now it’s the Millennials’ turn, and there is a bonus! Since nearly half of Millennials are Hispanic, African American or Asian, marketers can get a two-for-one special by intertwining their multicultural strategies with their Millennial marketing and gain tremendous efficiencies in the process. Sounds great! But, in reality, highly suspect. Why? 1) There may be no such thing as a Millennial generation and 2) a review of Hispanics, who comprise 24% of all Millennials, suggests that culture defines their behavior more than when they were born.



Millennials may not even exist.

As someone who has overseen countless consumer segmentations, I understand the deep desire and practical need to simplify groups of people into “targetable segments.” But not when they mislead. David Costanza (no known relation to George) suggests that there is no real basis to believe that the Millennial Generation is a thing, in a recent article for Slate:

“The original conceptualization of social generations started with a biological generational interval of about 20 years, which historians, sociologists and demographers (for one example, see Strauss and Howe, 1991) then retrofitted with various significant historical events that defined the period.

The problem with this is twofold. First, such events do not occur in nice, neat 20-year intervals. Second, not everyone agrees on what the key events were for each generation, so the start and end dates also move around depending on what people think they were. One review found that start and end dates for boomers, Xers, and millennials varied by as many as nine years, and often four to five, depending on the study and the researcher.”

Costanza argues that the commonalities in Millennials are more related to life stage than generation, particularly as they relate to issues of job performance, self-regard and stress. If he is even partly right, and life stage matters more, then marketers who believe they can fashion a strategy that covers Millennials and Multiculturals in one broad approach have a real problem. 

Millennials vs. Life Stage

According to People en Español’s 2018 HOT Study:














Basically, Millennial Latinas surveyed are twice as likely to be married, and much more likely to be a mother than their non-Hispanic Millennial counterparts. Can we say that they are the same consumer target?

Certainly, there are commonalities for Hispanics and Millennials for targeting purposes, and certainly ethnicity may not be the best segmentation lens for every consumer category or brand. But beware of facile groupings and simplistic solutions. If Millennials are a thing, cultural context should be a part of the strategy, no matter how you choose to define it.

2 comments about "My Millennial Strategy Is My Multicultural Strategy And Other Urban Myths".
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  1. Frank Romero from The Grocer Exchange, LLC, April 26, 2018 at 1:47 p.m.

    Dear Steve:

    Do we know each other?

    When you are free, please reach me directly at 781-821-4113 or via my mobile number 617-312-3723.

    I have a differing perspective I would like to share with you.


    Frank Edward Romero
    Chief Marketing & Revenue Generation Officer
    The Grocer Exchange, LLC
    781-821-2345-Canton, MA Office
    Skype: Entropy1953

  2. Hispanic Marketing Council from HMC, April 27, 2018 at 11:28 a.m.

    On behalf of the Culture Marketing Council: The Voice of Hispanic Marketing (formerly AHAA), we absolutely agree that culture drives Millennial behavior. In fact, our recent study Digital Lives 2018: A World of Digital 'Everything' through a Cultural Lens found that culture drives digital behavior regarding how information is shared, how on-demand content is consumed, and which platforms are chosen, permeating outside of in-culture spaces and across non-Hispanic white, Hispanic and non-Hispanic African-American segments ages 13-49. That's why it's critical to place culture at the center of your campaigns utilizing culture specialists as key advisors. If culture is not at the heart of your Millennial outreach, you are missing the boat! We hope this study can help marketers maximize success with in-culture, multicultural segmented efforts and avoid costly cultural gaffes in their mainstream marketing. For more information about this study, please visit
    --CMC Research Chair Nancy Tellet, founder, brand & consumer navigator at PureClarity LLC

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