Introducing Generation Y
Every generation has its own traits. For example, the Baby Boomers (born between 1946 – 1964) were said to be work-centric, independent, goal-oriented and competitive. This was driven by their environment, following the second world war when numbers of marriages dropped yet the birth rate increased meaning that the school classrooms were fuller and there was considerable competition for college places.
The same is true with the latest generation, the Millennials, the generation born between 1985 and 2000. A generation forged by the environment they have grown up in, one of greater environmental awareness, new technology and changing workplaces.
Millennials are a now major part of society, making up 27% of the US population, just over 83 million people in total,therefore they have a massive influence on products and major purchasing power averaging around $600 Billion last year (an amount expected to grow to $1.4 Trillion by 2020).
It is for this reason that many organisations have developed specific marketing strategies for millennial’s. However, who are they? How can they be defined and most importantly how can you categorize a generation?
Who are the millennial’s and how do they behave?
Millennials have a complex set of traits very different from ‘Generation X’ they have lived through a time of considerable change in terms of the environment, culture and technology.
One of the often used phrases to describe millennial’s is the ‘Peter Pan generation’, this is the phenomenon of not wanting, or not being able, to leave their teenage years behind. A combination of the media glamorizing teenage life making it seem more attractive and real financial struggles, , more young people than ever are living with their parents for longer. Pew Research found that over 32% of millennial’s are still living with mum and dad and over 35% are not settling down in relationships until much later, not finding partners and considering children until at least 35 years old.
They are aware of marketing efforts, when it comes to purchasing decisions they would rather read independent blogs than believe advertising. 33% read online content to support a purchasing decision, whereas only 3% consider TV as an influencer.
Millennials Built For Technology
Growing up during a technological revolution, with the birth of the world wide web in the early 90’s and the introduction of computers with graphical user interfaces like Windows they are certainly engaged with technology.
A Nielsen survey reveals 85% of millennial’s have a smartphone which they are likely to check more than 45 times per day.87% are regular users of Facebook and engage with social media regularly. However, being more social online often has an impact on their offline friendships, they may have many hundreds of Facebook friends but struggle to engage with individuals face to face. The exception is in the workplace where friendships are being developed more easily, with more time spent at work millennial’s use the opportunity to make real friendships which have even been found to increase productivity, 57% of respondents in a recent survey found that having friends at work made them more happy and productive.
The growth of online video has also made an impact, 80% of millennial’s use video when making decisions about product purchases and 76% follow their favourite brands on YouTube.
Politics and Authority
The two phrases which come about when you speak about millennial’s are entitled and narcissistic, many people class the millennial’s as ‘the me generation’ and, as a recent study shows, ‘entitled’ is a label which even millennial’s themselves use.
Dr. Jean Twenge, author of books including ‘Generation Me’ and ‘The Narcissism Epidemic’ says; “Instead of viewing entitlement as a sense that the universe owes you something you may not have earned, many view entitlement as the right to go after big goals and aim high — without asking for permission from gatekeepers and authority figures.”
Therefore, we are seeing a generation who is self-absorbed, but that this is for a positive reason, they no longer feel they have to be governed by external authority or that any goal is out of their reach. Young people feel less affiliated with politics or religion, research shows more than 50% do not feel involved with politics and 29% take no part in organised religion.
Young people now expect that working hard should yield rewards, however not purely fiscal rewards. A recent survey showed that 75% of respondents would rather work for a company who was socially responsible even if the salary offered was less and 64% would not work for an organisation which did not have strong social or environmental commitments.
In the workplace 55% of millennial’s state they are not engaged with their work, it’s a ‘means to an end’ and they are not motivated to deliver therefore productivity is lower. This is a higher percentage than any previous generation. They require regular engagement and feedback, with 44% being more likely to be engaged when their manager holds regular meetings with them and offers regular feedback. They need a coaching environment more than supervision.
It paints a picture of a self-driven generation who know their mind and needs to feel that they are taking a personal responsibility not only for themselves as the accusation of narcissism states, but also the wider community. They do not necessarily feel involved or controlled by government and are instead striving to forge their own path. Overall millennial’s have a greater concern for others than many previous generations with concerns for environmental issues and social causes being high on their agendas, many seek to buy products from organisations which support social causes they care about and work for organisations who demonstrate a corporate responsibility.
The Millennial Culture
The millennial age also created a range of music and pop culture moments. It’s the generation which embraced digital music, no longer having to buy a whole album instead being able to pick and chose tracks. More and more people became musical explorers as the technology allowed you to discover new music from around the world in a way that the record shop of previous generations could never have done. There was the growth of a closer relationship with artists via social media, initially using MySpace but now with Facebook, Twitter and others allowing fans to be closer to their favourite performers than ever before. Even the video model changed with the introduction of Netflix, albeit as a service which mailed you physical DVD’s but it was to mark the end of video rental and soon was to become what it is today with instant streaming.
The top 100 cultural highlights have been collated by Vulture.com, some of the most notable highlights include:
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air – with a catchy theme tune every millennial could sing even now (with thanks to Will Smith and Quincy Jones).
- The Cha-Cha Slide – that packed dancefloors with synchronised sliding and criss-crossing.
- Now That’s What I Call Music – a regular musical treat throughout the generation an LP, CD or download of the best music of the moment.
- Toy Story – basically the birth of Pixar on the big screen and the development of CGI and computer animation generation
- The Spice Girls – The baby boomer generation may have had the birth of feminism the millennial’s had the birth of Girl Power.
- Harry Potter – it was the series of books which made reading essential again and then a series of pivotal films
Millennials Impact on The World
Although it’s early days for many of millennial’s, when you look at the inventions created already you can see that we may be in for exciting times ahead. This is the generation who created Google, when Sergey Brin and Larry Page sat down and rethought how the internet should be searched and Mark Zucherburg’s Facebook as well as the creation of Twitter and Snapchat. This is to be expected of the first generation of digital natives for whom their smartphones and mobile internet have become a necessity, on average sending 50 texts per day and permanent social media connectivity there’s more communication than any other generation before them. However, they are also a generation with less available income and higher student loan debts, averaging $20,926 before they start working impacting their major purchasing decisions, for example 30% not intending to purchase a car in the near future and over 60% choosing to rent rather than purchase a house. They are certainly Savvy with 57% using technology to compare prices when in stores.
The Millennial Future
The millennial generation is the largest in US history, as they start to reach working age their impact on the economy will be vast. They are a generation who will not be held back, they have the technology to develop amazing things, and if it’s not there they will create it. A massively driven generation who care about the world they live in and have clear ideas of what they want to achieve in their lives. They consider how they live with wellness and health being key. They are living through the effects of massive global financial downturns and rapid change but are succeeding and growing for the future.