Sherman Social – Social Media Agency + Digital Marketing Agency


How Exponential Missed The Mark On Stereotyping Millennials

How Exponential Missed The Mark On Stereotyping Millennials

Time_MillennialSo AdWeek published a nice little segmented list by Exponential putting us Millennials in even more specific hipster-boxes (Are These The 12 Types Of Millennials?) . My first thought was, “12?! That’s a hell of a lot of groups to target.” After actually reading the list my thought was, “WTF?!”

Perhaps the insult started when I found myself fitting best into the very first segment –> “Boss Babes”. Okay, so let’s give a great empowering title to women, and then degrade it by using ‘babes’. Strike one.

Next, I saw “Brogrammers”.  Need I go on?! If anything, this list feels like a satire of the Millennial culture. There’s words used in it I haven’t heard since college, and even then they weren’t cool.

How are titles like “The Underemployed”, “Shut Out” and “Quarter-Life Crisis Millennial” supposed to give us any more cred in the current job force that already looks down on Milliennials as being a spoiled, selfish , lazy generation?!

This article comes at a timely moment for me, as I was just discussing this in a meeting this morning with a group of fellow Millennials. We all have great jobs, a strong work ethic and accomplishments under our belt –> and we are SICK of the media throwing us into a large trashcan and calling us all a lazy generation that’s hurting the world.

So, what can be done?! There is obviously a HUGE stereotype out there that this article strongly speaks to, yet it seems, as with most stereotypes, only the negative qualities are amplified. The most grotesque thing about Exponential’s portrayal of this generation is the off-target photos it uses to illustrate us. From a girl that looks like she’s taking a drunk selfie to another girl with her lollipop at work –> SERIOUSLY?!

Now I’m not saying there aren’t real people out there that fall into all 12 of these categories, but I AM saying that the box they fall into isn’t as boxed-in as AdWeek makes it out to be. Of course, these are generalizations, but COME ON. You seriously can’t define empowered women with a more empowering title, or wicked smart tech geeks with a respected title?

I don’t have a solution for counteracting assanine articles and stereotypes, except that each Millennial needs to speak LOUDER about the good they are doing, their accomplishments, their positive traits –> not only to show the world we’re better than they paint us to be, but to encourage each other that no matter what the world (media) had to say, we are an ACTIVE, POSITIVE, ENGAGED generation working to solve problems that generations before created for us.

To start my chain of events, I am going to feature one Millennial bi-monthly that is doing AMAZING things. Then you can draw your own stereotypes and generalizations from real Millennials doing real things. Check back next week for my first featured “bro”, and if you know of any Millennials kicking ass, contact me. Sincerely, your Boss Babe.

– Marji J. Sherman

Marji J. Sherman

Expert in NFTs, metaverse, social, and digital marketing.

  • I’m the author of the Adweek piece and just wanted to clarify that it’s not a list of our own devising, but rather one created by an ad platform called Exponential, which presented the groupings at Advertising Week NYC in a talk called “Marketing to Millennials: You’re Doing It Wrong.”
    Here’s the portion near the top of the article explaining the source:

    “But is it better or worse to try to carve the 18-34 age group into smaller segments? Would it highlight the diversity of a widely divergent generation, or just amplify stereotypes?

    “It’s a problematic mission, to be sure, but digital advertising network Exponential felt it was up to the task when it defined 12 millennial subgroups that marketers should know. At the recent Advertising Week in New York, researcher and Exponential vp Bryan Melmed presented the findings from his team’s data analysis of 4 million young adults.”

    Your thoughts on the topic are, of course, welcome and well-stated. Just wanted to make sure you knew (for better or worse) that we weren’t behind the list itself so much as being the ones who put it out there for public discussion. (I did, however, pick most of the celebrity/character representatives for each group. The only ones mentioned specifically by Exponential were Olivia Pope for Boss Babes, Evan Spiegel for Brogrammers and Bethany Mota for Millennial Marthas.) Thanks for reading and for sharing your thoughts on it!

    David Griner, Social Editor, Adweek

    October 14, 2014 at 6:45 pm
  • Marji, as you know I love a lot of your articles, blogposts and tweets but I have to take issue with the idea that as you put it the generation Y are the “generation working to solve problems that generations before created for us.” A bit of stereotyping there but that’s fine.
    I can’t comment on generations A to W, but as someone who is generation X I think that there is a lot that my lot gave you. I grew up in a very divided world, but some of us thought that fairness was worth more than immediate success. The Civil Rights Leaders, feminists, gender campaigners and political activists of my generation fought hard for some of the freedoms that we all now take for granted. If the problems you speak of are economic, then fair enough, but again there were many of us speaking (and indeed voting) against this ridiculous notion that greed is not only good but the only way to do business. In short I think you can thank my generation more than most (and of course, those wonderful free thinkers of the 60s) for the liberal freedoms we all enjoy.

    It’s weird because although I’m a little annoyed at that comment I’m secretly glad you said it as well. The fact that you are blaming the ills of the world on your parents generation is a typical act of youthful rebellion that has been going on for generations, and in a way you are right, it is all of our fault. You should stick it to my generation so I’m actually on your side on balance, and yes, aren’t some of those terms like ‘boss babe’ really patronising. Don’t worry there are plenty of 40+ somethings who would agree with you there.

    October 16, 2014 at 4:02 pm
  • Gabe Chesman (@gchesman)

    I’m with you, Marji. It’s hard to defend yourself in a world that constantly defines you as self-entitled, lazy kids. These characteristics could apply to every generation at one point or another. Not to mention that if anyone called me a “Brogrammer” I’d kick them between the legs.
    It’s a shame that we have to work harder and louder to prove idiotic stereotypes wrong. However, if that what it takes to shake “Boss Babes” I suppose it’s worth it. I propose a counter-attack aimed at our old, out-dated predecessors! Get with the program, you old farts!

    November 5, 2014 at 8:59 pm
  • KEN kisselman

    Doesn’t every generation decry “you don’t know me… I’m not your marketing persona… I’m unique and special and complex” during its adolescence?

    December 9, 2014 at 7:48 pm
  • It gets better. – a formerly, similarly persecuted Gen-Xer.

    May 7, 2015 at 12:04 am
  • Arslan

    I recently stumbled upon this article and was intrigued by the cross answers and replies.As a non US citizen i can say that listening to you replies, it DOES seem that the millenials are self possessed.All I can read are references or comments of ‘millenium’ or decades towards US society empowerment…

    Wakeup fellas there is a planet called Earth, where we all co exist and it is crumbling from the greed and media portrayals rapidly churned out from the west, for an unreal and glamorized living.

    September 25, 2015 at 5:46 pm

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