Credit: Fathom Voice

Gen (WH)Y?

Last year, I watched a startup pitch for a six figure investment. Throughout their pitch they continued to stress: “Our product is for Millennials and not for older people!”.

I find this approach troubling.

Being clear on product opportunities in a marketplace comes down to how you understand the people who buy and sell.

Over the years, market trends have been connected to age demographics. Generation X, Y and Z (also known as Post-Millennials, the iGeneration, Plurals or the Homeland Generation). Reports are published and articles are written on how to: go mobile, support immersion, be transparent, create brand evangelists.

Yes, you can probably work out some correlation between demographics and data on adoption rates, usage patterns, etc. And yes, you may want to target advertising at a young-er demographic. But does it really help develop better products and raise money from old-er investors?

I’m being a little facetious here. Let me give you a specific example.

This is my cousin Ben, he’s aged 18 and owns a vinyl record player and listens to The Smiths.

Via Facebook — cheers cuz!

This is Douglas, aged 70, he was the first customer of an Apple Watch in Buchanan street, Glasgow.

Colin Templeton, Evening Times

The age of someone doesn’t tell us why they chose to buy vinyl or listen to music through their Apple watch. It’s unhelpful and lacks the real motivation for a product.

When companies are so focused on the who, they can totally miss the why.

A better approach simply asks: why do people do that? And the answers for that can work across age demographics.

In reflection, I think what the startup I mentioned above tried to say was: “This is the future because we are young.”.

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