Misunderstanding Millennials

by • July 20, 2016 • The Science BitComments Off on Misunderstanding Millennials2427

Those pesky kids! Always on their phones! Never experiencing the great outdoors! Never talking to each other! They’d rather just text, text, text! Sound familiar? Well, it’s the labels often given to the millennial generation, or Gen Y to give them their ‘correct’ tag. But this generation is particularly misunderstood and their desires often overlooked. They now make up 50% of the working population and that will rise to 75% by 2020. So have you changed your approach to appeal to this new breed of customer and employee? We take a look at them in some more detail to make sure your business is ready to deliver to the millennial generation.


The Generation

Ask most people to picture the millennial and they will likely give you a description close to what we mentioned above. But this generation has matured now. Early millennials are coming into their late thirties. So although some are still in their late teens, all of them would be old enough to get served at the bar! There are now over 15 million millennials in the UK and over 2 billion worldwide! They make up a significant proportion of the working adult and also over a quarter of the population.


Also known as ‘The Selfie Generation’ they have grown up digitally native, with social media and a digital culture playing a huge part of their lifestyle. They spend on average 25hrs a week online and capture experiences with pictures, sharing them with their online communities and networks. They have grown up in an expanding world of choice and have a very different outlook to life. Seeing a limitless path of options to choose from in their life route and less concerned at the traditional metrics of success.



Brands need to adapt from the traditional marketing methods they pushed at Boomers. They defined success as buying a home, getting married, having a child and settling down. These options have changed for this generation in the current climate and are no longer relevant! They have grown up through the recession and have inherited the impact of what that means to their choices in adult life.


Brands waiting for them to ‘grow up’ and adopt the approach of the previous generations will fail badly! Over half have children already. Over half of them are married. They have already ‘Grown Up’! They’ve just done so in a different world to the one we previously used to call adulthood.


Outbound marketing methodslike magazine ads, direct mail campaigns and radio spots do not impress Millennials. 84% said they do not trust traditional marketing techniques, when selecting which brands to let into their lives. This generation are content driven. With 43% ranking authenticity as the number one driver for news and content they trust. They look for people they can associate with, who share their values and views. They look for brands who are like them. Ones that resonate with their purpose in their brand promise and vision.


They crave personalised content that advises them how to make their lives easier or more enjoyable. But the advisors they turn to are now carried with them in their smartphones and devices. They are 44% more likely to trust an expert, even if they are strangers from the web. And they are also 247% more likely to be influenced by social media and blogs in their decision making process.


They have a very different outlook to the ownership model as well. They rent rather than buy. Most traditional targets have been out of reach for them, or just not convenient for their lifestyle requirements. Items such as property or cars are less important than they were to previous generations. They are more interested in the experience they can have in their lifetime, than they are in the ownership. Products on demand are what they have grown up with. Brands such as Uber, Airbnb and Spotify fill their life with rented convenience, rather than the hassles of ownership. Cars, music, transport and many other products are instead consumed and charged on use. It’s just how they live their lives.


Millennials certainly know what they want and they know how and where to get it. Using online resources such as e-books, whitepapers, blog posts, videos, forums, YouTube and other how-to information sources to answer their many questions. 60% of Millennials are now engaged in uploading content through images, videos and blogs to the web and social media. They are sharing, liking, pinning, tweeting, snapping, forwarding, and commenting all of their views and findings for the world to enjoy. They see social sharing as their way of leaving a mark in the world. Placing more value on these experiences over material purchases.


Social media & digital communication has grown at such a fast pace when compared to other communication shifts, that it is now crucial that you have this in your customer strategy. Over 500 million tweets and 10 billion Snapchat videos are posted every single day! There are 100 million people on Pinterest and over 400 million on Instagram, sharing 80 million photos a day across the web! The on demand shift has already happened. More people now watch YouTube each day that they do TV!



So what does all that mean to us from a business perspective? Well if you want to keep your best customers and employees, then you need to ensure you are appealing to what is important to them. Nothing new there then. But with a different set of priorities to previous generations, you need to ensure your offer has moved on. That your brand shares the language they use and adopts their style of consuming content.


44% of millennials have said they would leave their current employer in the next 2 years given a chance. With the main reasons being lack of leadership development, feeling overlooked, work/life balance, flexibility desire & conflict of values.


This generation is very purpose & values driven. Common themes that are important to them include happiness, passion, diversity, sharing & discovery. They want companies to be less focused on profits and more on people, products and purpose. 55% stated sharing personal values as important when choosing an organisation and many would rule them out if they didn’t share their purpose.


They have very different goals and metrics to determine what success looks like. They want to experience many things, but they also want to have fun along the way. They want to engage in co-creation, being involved, informed and engaged in the companies they work for. 42% said they are interested in helping their company developing future products & services that make a difference. Brands therefore need to respond accordingly, reflecting this in company rewards packages and customer propositions.


Overall then millennials have just grown up in a very different lifestyle and culture to previous generations. They see no benefit in searching for the material benefits other generations stretched for. Those are already out of reach. Instead they value the experiences they can have in their lifetime as most important and being able to share those with others who have the same passions and values. Technology has improved dramatically, which enables the millennial to live their lifestyle conveniently against those goals. But Gen X are also quick to see the benefits and have embraced the technology into their lifestyle as it has become common place. With Gen Z soon to arrive into adulthood, you need to make sure you have followed the evolution of expectation that today’s working generation expect. If you are to continue to attract the market to your brand instead of the competition you need to evolve your proposition.


So I’d like to leave you with 3 questions for you to consider.


  1. How content driven is your marketing strategy today? Have you moved from traditional methods to appeal to your new audience who seek value on those digital channels?
  2. How are you tweaking your role expectations and employee remuneration to appeal to what the millennials generation value in their offer? (Tip: Pay isn’t enough to satisfy)
  3. Are you geared up for 2020 to ensure your business is still relevant and attractive in the face of new challenger brands?


I’d love to hear your views on these in either the comments box below or email me your opinions on Thanks in advance for your input.


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