OLDER people are not the only ones to try too hard to be hip and youthful. Long-established firms can, too.
Just look at Procter& Gamble (P&G), one of the world's largest consumer-goods firms,
which this year applied to America's federal patent office to trademark LOL, NBD, WTF and FML,
abbreviations commonly used in text messages and social media.
If it succeeds, the 181-year-old firm plans to use the phrases to market soap, cleaners and air fresheners to young buyers.
Its move is the intellectual property equivalent of Dad dancing. But it is a sign of large firms' eagerness to woo millennial consumers.
To many firms they are a mystery. KPMG, a consultancy, reckons nearly half do not know how millennials—
typically defined as those born between 1980 and 2000—differ from their older counterparts.
That may be because such differences are overblown.
According to Ipsos-MORI, a pollster, millennials are "the most carelessly described group we have ever looked at".
Many claims about them are simplified or wrong. It is often said, for example, that they ignore conventional ads; in fact they are heavily influenced by marketing.
Given such misconceptions, it is little wonder that firms sometimes get it wrong.
In February, Miller Coors, an American brewer, released Two Hats, a light fruit-flavoured brew
二月，美国啤酒制造商Miller Coors推出水果味啤酒Two Hats，
the beer-maker said would suit millennials' tastes and budgets (tagline: "Good, cheap beer. Wait, what?").
Consumers just waited; the beer was pulled from shelves after six months. But some stereotypes about millennials have roots in reality.
Companies are finding that three broad approaches do succeed when trying to sell to them: transparency, experiences (over things) and flexibility.
On the first of these, transparency, younger brands have led the way.
In clothing, one example is Everlane, an online clothing manufacturer based in San Francisco.
It discloses the conditions under which each and every garment is made and how much profit it generates as part of its philosophy of "radical transparency".