We are surrounded by misinformation.  Heard that newsflash before?  Think you know misinformation when you see/read it?  Don’t be so sure, especially if you are a marketer targeting a Millennial or Gen Z consumer.  Much of what passes for relevant marketing wisdom bears reevaluating.  So say recent studies by McKinsey and others.

The January 21, 2023 issue of The Economist contains an informative article about young Western consumers entitled, “Buying Time.”  There are nearly 250 million Millennial and Gen Z aged people in the EU and the US, representing nearly $2.7 trillion of annual spending.  It’s a market that cannot be ignored.

Just don’t attempt to apply broad brushes or old marketing stereotypes to these contradictory consumers.  As The Economist article summarizes, these young buyers:

“. . . have thin wallets and expensive tastes.  They prize convenience and a social conscience.  They want shopping to be at once seamless and personal.  They crave authenticity while being constantly immersed in an ersatz digital world.  As they start spending in earnest, brands are trying to understand what these walking paradoxes want and how they shop.” 

It would take too long to elaborate here; just read the article.  I will provide this hint.  Resist the urge to assume all young consumers hang out at cafes, sipping chai lattes, while looking at their phones and making purchases based on climate change impacts.  Ads with such imagery miss the mark.  For instance, surveys show young Americans to be among the most price-sensitive of food shoppers.  It is one of many revealing observations.

Oldies But Goodies
Other misinformation gets passed down from generation to generation, no internet, social media, or marketing required.  Like these apocryphal classics:

One Loses the Most Body Heat Through One’s Head
This wintertime favorite won’t go away.  According to the Cleveland Clinic and countless others, it should.  It’s balderdash.  This bogus old trope can be traced to a WWII era, US Army Field Manual.  The reality is that the average person’s head accounts for about 9% of his/her body’s surface area and, surprise-surprise, only 10% of body heat loss.

“Salary” Derives from the Latin Word for Salt
This myth is based on the misconception that the word, salary, derives from the Latin word, sal.  Or salt.  Its believers parrot an old wives’ tale about Roman soldiers being paid their allowances in salt . . .which, supposedly, led to regular wages being described as a salary.  Hogwash.  As detailed in this article from February 2, 2023 issue of “The Economist,” if true, Roman soldiers would have received the equivalent of 14 pounds of salt per day.  Not great currency, and far too much to carry, let alone eat.

Reading in the Dark Weakens Eyesight
This is one of many eyesight related myths. Others involve the miraculous sight benefits of eating carrots, the danger of sitting too close to a television, or the damage supposedly incurred by looking directly at the sun.  All gobbledygook.  Reading in the dark may cause eyestrain and headaches, but it will not weaken your eyes.

So, open your eyes and don’t believe everything you see.

Peter Dragone - Co-founder of Keurig.