Stop designing for millennials – or any generation for that matter.

When it comes to potatoes… Millennials are not significantly different from the rest of the population. Such was the conclusion of a study conducted by the U.S. Potato Board titled “Understanding Millennials—How do Potatoes Fit into Their Lives?”. If the Potato Board were to try and focus their efforts on people under 35, they would be designing for everyone and no one at the same time. Companies and brands take this approach far too often as discussed in this article from the Harvard Business Review.2013.11.15

As often covered in this blog, generation-based marketing is severely limiting. Particularly for multinational marketers. Partly because age is a poor proxy for behaviour and partly because the events that shaped the lives of a particular generation are often local and not a unifying global phenomena.

Whole Foods was recently criticized for announcing a new chain of stores targeted to Millennials desire for “modern, streamlined design, innovative technology, and a curated selection” of lower-priced organic and natural foods. As Robyn Bolton aptly pointed out in HBR, “Whole Foods is essentially saying… [that] Gen X and Baby Boomer shoppers are fine with old, cluttered stores that sell a confusing array of stuff at high prices.”

The history of product design is littered with similar examples that fail to take into account that emotions, wants, and needs of people vary greatly within and across generations.

The final sentence of the HBR sums it up well; “Meeting the functional and emotional needs of a group of people is much more likely to generate transformative results than targeting a generational cohort with tenuous links”.

Businesses need to understand the physical changes we experience with age and accommodating them across the entire customer journey. That’s what we call Lifetime Customer Experience. Read more hereLifetimeCXWorkshop2015.