Millennial as a buzzword in the media is nothing new. But after we became the largest generation in the workforce as of 2015, it’s pretty clear to see why Millennials are so important. From our status as the most educated generation to date to our low marriage and fertility rates, there are countless reasons why Millennials are such an interesting bunch to analyse.
But the reason I’m focusing on Gen Y in this post is of course down to our relevance in the world of digital.
This week I attended an extremely informative and oh-so-now discussion on the importance of Millennials to business in the Digital Age. To give you an idea as to what the event was all about, here is the text I received the day before as a reminder:
Let’s Get Digital: OMG, don’t miss it tomoz @12pm. There will be snacks, Kombucha & industry leading speakers. It’s going to be #somillennial.
Ok, this might have been taking millennial speak to the extreme, but it definitely got my attention. And with presentations from some of Australia’s leading media personalities, including founder of The Urban List, Susannah George, and Head of Insights & Strategy at VICE Australia, Alice Kimberley, it was definitely a discussion not to be missed.
But before I get to all that, let’s begin with the basics. Who the devil are these cool and connected Millennials?
Who are Millennials?
Millennials, also known as Gen Y, are generally seen as the generation of people born in the early to mid 1980s. But this age bracket varies depending on where you’re sourcing your information. Some demographers (I didn’t even know being a demographer was a thing before doing some research for this piece) define Millennials as born between 1982 and 2004.
All seem a bit vague? Well, dates aside – Millennials are easier defined by their traits. Perhaps stereotypes would be a more appropriate word. Depending on who’s describing a Millennial, any of the following words could be used:
Self-entitled. Narcissistic. Lazy. Sheltered. Cynical.
Yes, us Millennials are so cynical, we’re even self-deprecating. So many of us would use the above words to define our peers or ourselves.
But there are other words (thankfully) that best describe the traits of a Millennial, which paint a far more positive picture:
Ambitious. Civic-minded. Principled. Connected. Tech-savvy.
And it is of course the latter definitions that we’re interested in tapping into here.
Yes, seeing as Millennials are the generation that grew up watching the Internet be created and technologies quickly changing in front of their eyes, it’s no surprise they are generally pretty digital savvy. Whether we’re working in digital industries ourselves, or simply acting as digital consumers, there’s a lot to be said for why Millennials are important to your brand.
Why are millennials important?
There are about 80 million Millennials in the US alone, making them larger than any other demographic in the country. That said, Baby Boomers (mostly the parents of Millennials) are currently in their prime when it comes to spending ability, so why is it they are pretty much being ignored by the majority of brands? Or at least, by the marketers behind those brands.
There are two obvious reasons. The first being that although Baby Boomers are better off financially than their children (let’s not get into the discussion of housing affordability or this will become a different article entirely), they have a much smaller disposable income. In fact, Millennials are slated to have an expected $1.4 trillion in disposable income by 2020 in the US alone. Wowzers!
They have have long-term brand loyalty potential
The other reason is down to looking at the big picture. Millennials are the future when it comes to spending potential, with many of us not even close to hitting our peak in terms of purchasing power due to student loans and starting a family. And the best part about this? Once you’ve got us, you’ve likely got us for life.
One of the biggest insights I took away from the Let’s Get Digital seminar I attended this week, is us Millennials aren’t as disloyal as you might think when it comes to the brands we decide to purchase from and align ourselves with (Susannah George explained the latter as being crucial to Millennials, who value honesty and good ethics from brands over everything else).
Sure, we move around a lot in our careers compared to our parents. But if you offer us a quality product or service, and don’t harm anyone or the environment in the process, we’re likely to stick around.
Just don’t forget about everyone else
Although Millennials are the hot topic right now when it comes to marketing strategies and positioning, it’s important not to alienate or forget other generations. After all, advertising can be a fickle world and the next decade will likely see Gen Z (those born after the millennium – the true Digital Natives) become the prime marketing target.
Having listened to some exceptionally talented media personalities discuss the importance of my generation in the world of marketing and advertising, it got me thinking about the true way to leverage Millennials for your brand. Find a way to cater to us, our parents, and our children.
After all, generational cycles and trends come and go, but one thing should remain the same. Your brand integrity and the quality of your product or service. If you get these things right, your business will surpass generations. And that’s really how to win in this ever-changing digital landscape.