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Finding Millennial Man: How to Get Into the Mind of Your Target Audience

Written By Jacki Sturkie | Mar 23, 2015

Not every creative gets the luxury of designing or writing to their own demographic. As an oddball female who hates shopping, I don’t even fit the demo I’m in. That’s why survey people run from me at the mall.

So when I get a writing assignment that targets someone I’m clearly not, I have to take a few extra steps to get into another person’s shoes. If that grosses you out as much as renting warm bowling shoes, read on for some new tools to get into the heads of your target audience.

Start with your client

Always ask your client to describe their ideal target. Let’s say our client owns a retail store and wants us to sell modernist home décor to men in their 20s. Since he fits squarely in Millennial territory (born 1980s to 2000s) and people are tripping over themselves to attract this target, we’ll call him “Millennial Man.”

Our client has told us that her ideal Millennial Man wants to create a cool space, but can’t spend a ton of money. If you’re thinking, “Wait, aren’t we just making a stereotype here?” Pretty much. Working with a super-hero stereotype works wonders for me because it’s simple.

Get the artificial facts

To get a peek at the inside world of your target, look for relevant blog posts. Here’s one about Millennials who don’t want to be called “Millennials.”

For specific demographics, search for  “Media Kit + [relevant magazine]”. I thought our guy might read Fast Company, but the demographics indicate more C-level readers who earn six figures. You could consider Fast Company aspirational for our target audience.

At any rate, media kits give you quick facts about whom you’re talking to in a target. If you’re targeting a B2B audience, look at trade associations. Typically, associations sell ad space for trade shows and will have media kits with similar demographic information.

Unreality check

Here’s what we know so far:

Age: 20’s

Sex: Probably

Actual sex: Male

College: Mandatory

Job: Competent, career-driven

Earnings: He’s in his 20s and cash-strapped.

Lifestyle: Urban condo. Maximum hip factor. Minimal space.

Find like-minded publications

I figure our Millennial Man might read Men’s Health because it’s practical. Sometimes a publication’s articles will help you envision your target guy, especially if you can find one on the subject matter. In our case, decorating.

Bingo! There’s an article called “Design 101: Make Your Home Like a Museum – Use artifacts to infuse your space with an eclectic feel”. How the article is written, artwork and tone are all clues that help you understand what makes your fictional guy tick.

Picture Millennial Man

While you’re looking around Men’s Health, check out the models. They’re not in there by accident. Now you can get an image in your mind of what Millennial Man looks like. One look at their “Style” page and hello, actor Eddie Redmayne pops up. There’s our guy. Fill in more blanks:

Clothes: Clean, casual, occasional scruff. No Dockers. Ever.

Showers: Daily

Hair product: Always

Color choices: Muted with a side of surprise brightness

Apply what you’ve learned

Now that you know more about Millennial Man, the fruits of your research can inform not only the creative, but also your client’s buying decisions. From the article, we can surmise that Millennial Man wants authentic, not reproduction, decor. So your client would do well selling real artifacts instead of reproduced ones. Since you know your guy is cash-strapped, your client might do well pricing the “artifacts” lower than a store like West Elm, but higher than Target. Now that you’re armed with more information, you can get going on creative that zeroes in on what’s important to your client’s target.

Gauge your “Millennialness”

While I was writing this blog, I found this fun online quiz “How Millennial Are You?” that scores exactly how Millennial you are. In case you’re wondering, I’m only a 77. If the online survey could have fled, it would have.

Jacki Sturkie is a copywriter, brand strategist and comedian in Portland, OR. Her book, Sass Mouth, is now available on Amazon.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.