‘Millennials are killing everything’ the epic excuse from the terrified old guard.

I remember reading somewhere that the first mistake you can make in marketing and advertising is blaming your audience. If people aren’t buying your product it’s not personal, it’s because they don’t want it, or you’re not telling them they want it well enough.

Audiences are simple creatures, and the measure of success for a product or campaign is simple too. Are they buying? Yes or no. If the answer is no, what can you change about the product or how it appears that will change that ‘no’ into a ‘yes’?

There’s a new lie being pervaded by the media at the moment. The idea that these new-age, liberal, snobbishly educated millennials are ‘killing’ businesses by not spending their money in organized droves.

The truth is of course, that this is just more audience blaming. They won’t buy your stupid stuff if they don’t want it. Adapt or die. It’s the oldest marketing mantra in the book.

It is, however, interesting to look at what is actually happening here. Obviously this generational shift in buying habits has been starker than perhaps others in the past. Civilization is evolving exponentially, bigger changes are happening faster than ever before and keeping up with it is a challenge that grows in scope every year.

So what is special about the change in spending habits between generation X and Y and is it something businesses can adapt to and survive?


It’s not that millennials are better educated than their forebears, it’s that they have a greater access to information shared from multiple sources than any generation has ever had before. The internet allows for the viral sharing of that story about the homophobic CEO of a major fast food chain, or the environmental behaviour of that massive supermarket franchise. With the inner social, environmental and ethical protocols of big businesses now making the hipster headlines, is it any surprise young people don’t want to be seen in their stores and restaurants? We are living in the internet-age, you can’t keep these dirty secrets anymore! It’s time to clean up your act to win over the 20 and 30 somethings!


Less Disposable Income

Millennials have been thrown into a post-economic crisis world, where their Uni degree now means next-to-nothing and they are saddled with a greater debt than anyone before them. On top of that, they are priced out of the housing market with an inability to save for a deposit due to greater job competition and lower wages. This has bred a sort of DIY attitude towards socializing, seeing millennials spending less on alcohol and clubbing and preferring to hang out at a friend’s (probably rented) house and chuck on a Spotify playlist. This DIY attitude goes further to their outlook on business too, in many cases opting to start their own bespoke independent business than attempting to penetrate the big business corporate complex.

Supporting Local Business

Along with the DIY attitude of the poorer Generation Y comes the desire to support others like them. If your mate has opened an independent café down the road, you’re going to support him instead of Starbucks. We’re all in the same boat so we’re going to all help to bail it out. Big business can’t compete with the friendly and personal touch of an independent one.

These points are obviously not the case for all millennials but if anything, that fact goes even further to prove how sensationalist and ridiculous the claim that millennials are killing businesses actually is. In the grand scheme of things, this impact is small and gradual and may be a sign of things to come but equally provides plenty of opportunities for companies to evolve and cope with it.

Take McDonalds for example, a prime example of a massive business who made a concerted effort to turn their image from disgusting trashy fast food brand, to healthier, ethically sourced caterer with restaurants designed to feel more like social hangouts than plastic corporate dives. It’s not even like that much changed with McD’s! But their public appearance did, their marketing adapted and it has worked.


The claim that millennials are killing businesses is at its core, audience blaming. This should be a call to big business to sort out their marketing and advertising for a new age. Clean up their dirty secrets and adopt a newer, millennial friendly brand and marketing strategy to turn your tired, sagging brand around.

Good marketing and advertising and a bit of truth can go a long way. If you really think millennials killed your business let us help you bring it back to life!

Holla Creative are a team of young but experienced advertising and branding experts who have the industry knowledge and modern internet savvy to create a truly powerful creative identity for your business. Get in contact if you would like to see how we can help!

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