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They’re not “Millennials”; They’re Ben and Progga

I will admit to you that I don’t fall within the “Millennial” age range, nor do I pretend to. Yet, when I found this Pew Research Center quiz that asks the question, “How Millennial Are You?” I couldn’t resist the temptation to take it to see how I stack up against those categorized as “Millennials” and against other generations (“Silents,” “Baby Boomers,” “Gen-Xers”). After answering 15 questions on my views and beliefs, ranging from religion to politics to cell phones to video game playing to whether I have a tattoo or if I have a piercing in a place other than my earlobe, it finally gave me my “Millennial score”: a score of 73 or higher on this quiz qualifies you as being “Millennial.” Let’s just say I scored way higher than that and was deemed a “Millennial,” so I was feeling pretty good about myself (because, you know, that means I’m hip and cool and youthful).

Then I took this Time quiz with the same name. Unabashedly tongue-in-cheek, it asks questions like have you “taken a selfie while waiting in line for cupcakes,” and if you have ever “instagrammed your text messages.” I scored a 20%, which deemed me as “#EpicFail,” i.e., definitely not very Millennial.

So what gives? Why did I knock it out of the park in one quiz and have such an #EpicFail in the other? Yes, Pew’s quiz was serious and Time’s was silly. Ultimately, though, there’s something to be learned here, and it’s staring me – and all of us – right in the face.

We are all unique individuals.

Forget about the quiz results, the “buckets,” and the group behavioral patterns, the data sets and prediction models. Of course, these things have their place and value – thousands of businesses are built on and rely upon them. But maybe we’re all spending a little too much time on labeling and not enough time on collaborating with the people behind the data.

Take, for example, Ben and Progga. Ben is an aspiring soccer phenom; Progga is a college student who loves fashion. At 18 and 19 years old, respectively, they can certainly be dropped into the “Millennial” category. Get to know them, though – walk in their shoes and view the world and their future through their eyes – and you quickly realize that there’s so much more to them than just their age and all the clichés that come with it.

Ben and Progga have each already led lives that are full of inspiration. And their futures are bright. Ben is driven by a rare passion for his sport that is matched only by the love and support provided to him by family and friends. Progga’s creativity and dreams for a future filled with happy moments and success displays one-of-a-kind potential. They’re learning who they are, and, here at Communispace, so are we. We cultivate actual and prolonged connections to people like Ben and Progga, allowing us to really know them as people… not labels, which are for soup cans.

In a world where we’ve gotten into the habit of trendspotting, gathering, grouping, categorizing and generalizing, the influence of the unique individual seems to always get lost in the mix. This is not only a shame, it’s often a missed business opportunity. Celebrating individuality is a driving force for change, and embracing the Individual – not the “Millennial,” not the “Gen Xer” – leads to a better way of doing business.

So get to know Ben. Get to know Progga. Once you do, you and your business will be happy you did.

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