Generation Y: How Millennials Have Changed the Marketing Landscape.

Millennials Rising: The Next Great Generation

We recently prepared a recommendation for one of our clients on how they might include Millennials in their annual marketing plan.  Millennials, that elusive generation of 20-somethings that everyone seems to be talking about these days, have already changed a lot about our popular culture, the ways we use technology, and the ways we do marketing.

Why do they matter?  The sheer size of the generation — more than 70 million of them — and the fact that many are now entering the workforce, means they will be a serious force to behold.  They are often criticized for taking a long time to grow up.  But from the economy, to politics, to marketing, they will have a major impact on life as we know it.

Millennials were born starting in the early 1980’s, so many are now in their 20’s or even early 30’s.  By some estimates, this generation will even outnumber the enormous Baby Boomer generation.  Many are just now entering serious “adulthood” — meaning they’re buying houses, having kids and shopping for insurance.

They are the most diverse generation yet, with a large percentage of non-white members, and they are a powerful force in the economy.  They are earning more than any generation before them, are spending more, and are more heavily debt-ridden.  There is also evidence that Millennials are having more babies themselves, with birth rates approaching levels not seen since the height of the baby-boomer years.

Millennials place high value on timeliness, authenticity, tolerance, environmental stewardship, family, teamwork, personal freedom, and of course, technology.  They were the first generation to literally grow up with computers and the internet in front of them.  They are heavy users of social media.

How do you market to this audience?  Well, that’s a complicated question with a lot of possible answers.  For our clients, it really depends on their individual products or services.  But to get you started in thinking about marketing to this important group, here are a few quick suggestions from Steve Mellor of Harris Interactive:

1.  Don’t be too edgy — instead of being openly rebellious, Millennials are more conservative, intelligent, and are actually more institutionally driven than previous generations.

2.  Bring them together for a purpose — they are incredibly social creatures, looking for opportunities to come together do so something exciting/challenging/meaningful.

3.  Get them to share the love — Millennials have been studying the finer points of marketing since they were little.  If they like your stuff, encourage them to debate it, share it, modify it or critique it online.

4.  Invite a dialogue — Millennials are used to communicating.  Take every opportunity to invite a conversation in your marketing, your sales, and your support tools.

5.  Make your brand useful — The pragmatic nature of this generation, plus the sometimes ridiculous range of choices they have, means they are attracted to things that are useful and relevant.

Millennials are already bringing big changes to our culture, our workplaces and our daily interactions. By understanding this generation, marketers can prepare themselves for their future prospects and customers.

More resources for understanding Millennials:  Millennials Rising:  The Next Great Generation, by Neil Howe and William Strauss,,

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