Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Millennials: Aren’t we the worst?

"Millennials” is a term that is often heard but many times misunderstood. Born between 1980 and 2000, Millennials have been one of the most talked about, studied, and targeted generations. As a member of this illusive group, I’ve noticed that everyone seems to be talking about us and it’s not just because we are the largest generation by population size, but because we’re different than any other generation that came before us. We are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults. We’re less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history. Our entry into careers and first jobs has been badly set back by the Great Recession. We are history’s first “always connected” generation. Steeped in digital technology and social media, we treat our multi-tasking hand-held gadgets almost like a body part – for better and worse.(1)  I am constantly told that my generation is “doomed”, that the economy we are graduating into is one that is still recovering from recession and with unemployment at a high it’s no wonder people are worried. Yes there is uncertainty, but we are also a generation full of hope. Millennials grew up in an expanding world of choice and options for just about everything they ever needed or wanted. Because of this, they view life very differently. They don’t see just see one path available to them—they see limitless possibilities to make their life their own. All of these characteristics set us apart from the generations before us, so what should businesses do to draw us in and to engage us?

Millennials are approaching adulthood differently than their parents did. Why? Well, the economy for one—the milestones of adulthood (getting a job, buying a home, getting married, and having kids) just aren’t as feasible for many Millennials given the ramifications of the recession and also the expanding world of choice and options for everything. Brands need to stop waiting for us to “grow up” and fall in line with what past generations have done. A lot of us already have; it just looks different than it did in the past. Brands and marketers need to shift and adapt to this reality, instead of waiting for one that won’t come true. The real challenge in this is figuring out how exactly to do it. Many brands feel that connecting with Millennials is extremely difficult. But, in reality, connecting with Millennials is pretty straightforward. In fact, Patrick Spenner of Forbes Magazine narrowed it down to three key strategies that brands should be kept in mind when engaging Millennials. First, understand and speak to the values that drive us – happiness, passion, diversity, sharing and discovery. Second, understand our realistic lifestyles and experiences and find ways to amplify our reality. And, finally, make sure we feel informed and involved, not just marketed to.(2)  By following these three strategies, brands will find more opportunities available to them to gain this generation’s affinity. We are the future of business, and it’s time to not just “engage” us, but to evolve with us and be a part of the future.

If you would like to learn more about Millennials and the research that is available check out some of the videos below!

Millennials: We suck and we’re sorry
Generation Like
TEDxSF: Scott Hess, Millennials: Who they are and why we hate them

Ashley Himebaugh
FLG Intern Extraordinaire

1. "Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next." Pew Research Center (n.d.): n. pag. Pew Social Trends. Pew Research Center, 24 Feb. 2010. Web. 4 June 2014.
2. Spenner, Patrick. "Inside the Millennial Mind: The Do's & Don'ts of Marketing to This Powerful Generation." Forbes. CMO Network, 20 Feb. 2014. Web. 4 June 2014.

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