Stop defining Millennial as a lifestyle, mindset

Refinery29 co-founder and CEO Philippe von Borries spoke about Millennials at SXSW, and published a portion of that keynote at Business Insider.

It’s pretty audacious, starting with a metaphor of watching the Berlin Wall come down that is meant to explain the modern Millennial woman? Then he talks about Barbie: “If Barbie … can change, there’s hope for all of us.” Then he talks about Millennial being a mindset and how we shouldn’t rigidly define people.

Okay, I’m fine with that last one, but this whole thing smacks of some twisted plug for Refinery29, who is now known for delivering style- and celebrity-based content for women, with a little politics and news mixed in.

Also, Millennial isn’t a mindset; it’s a cohort meant for research and study. This is actually why people bash Millennials – brands have decided to package the term as a mindset, leading to the media and other influencers to stereotype and label the cohort.

In short, Refinery29 is simply trying to define Millennial to bring in audience. A Millennial as I’ve researched would see right through that crap.


This week I’ve watched multiple media outlets attempt to show the lifestyle of a Millennial, when the reality is there is no lifestyle of a Millennial.

What we know to be true right now – through data research – is Millennials have little money, are disrupting certain industries, and in some ways, rejecting corporations and rigidity and templates. But in a lot of other ways – and my newest research will show this – they’re doing the same things previous generations had done, just in a different era. In short, Millennials are complex. You can’t easily define them. What you can do is track their decisions and actions and study the trends.

What you shouldn’t do – and what basically everyone is doing – is continuously label Millennial as a lifestyle or mindset. That’s rigid. That allows media and influencers to package the term and spit it back to the masses. That then allows people to poke at the idea of Millennials. People seem to think Millennials are entitled, lazy, whiny special flowers because of this.

They’re not. Millennials are literally a people age 15-34. That’s the only thing that we can say with absolute certainty right now. And next year the only thing we can say with absolute certainty is that Millennials are people age 16-35. Everything else changes – ebbing and flowing and undefined.

Again, don’t listen to the people that try to package Millennials as a brand or lifestyle. They’re only trying to sell you their brand or lifestyle.

And don’t let people define Millennial for you. If you’re a Millennial, just be yourself and don’t worry about what people say you are. Because chances are you’re not.


Here’s the rest of my writing this week (and previously) on the dangers of labeling Millennials: