The millennial generation, those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, has been stereotyped as being indifferent to many of the motivations and aspirations of previous generations. This broad condemnation of Millennials’ ethos is incredibly shortsighted and can be attributed, I believe, to the fact that Millennials were born into an age of technology disruption where all others had to experience and adapt to it.
For Millennials, technology – both big “T” and small “T” – has been the only foundation they’ve known to learn, access information, develop relationships, manage relationships and manage their lives. The important point here is that technology has changed the “how” things get done– it hasn’t fundamentally changed the “what” gets done. Think of the “what” as aspirations – like previous generations the vast majority of Millennials aspire for a rewarding career, lasting relationships, a family, a home. That’s right the Millennials generation is just like everybody else – they just might go about getting what they want in a timeframe and manner that is different from other generations.
Millennials still want their belly full – and use an app to order vegan Nepalese dumplings: they want to be clothed – and find the perfect outfit at a pop-up boutique: they want a roof over their head – and move into a micro-condo furnished with multipurpose furniture: they want financial security – and invest their savings in a clean-energy fund. I think you get the point – Millennials are consumers. That is not a bad thing – in fact it is a very good thing considering that in the near future Millennials will be the demographic segment with the most disposable income. I know what you are thinking – Millennials=consumers=most disposable income – it doesn’t compute. Well actually, it does.
Despite the lasting impact of recent economic events, the 83.1 million Millennials, representing more than one quarter of the nation’s population, will be shifting into their prime years for family formation, and earnings. To put it into perspective, the size of the Millennial generation exceeds that of the 75.4 million baby boomers.
So let us, as marketers, not fall into the trap of ceding the Millennial generation to media hyperbole. Let us look at Millennials for who they are – a vast, diverse, educated, technically advanced generation of consumers who are shaping how marketers engage with all consumer segments. And a consumer segment that, with winds now at their back, are set to be an economic dynamo that will in many industries determine the winners and losers.