10 Facts You MUST Know About The Millennial Generation
The Largest Generation to Walk The Earth
Step back Boomer Generation. Your time is over. It was a good run, but the new generation of Millennials will eclipse all known spending and acts of consumerism you ever contemplated. There are some incredible revenues ahead for businesses that want more of the 18-29 age group – if you know how to market to them. But, while they will outspend grandma and gramps, they don’t act like them and they won’t be buying all the same brands. Those pesky Millennials are making new choices and tossing brand loyalties of the past aside. These locusts with wallets aren’t unreasonable though. You just have to understand them. Here’s what you need to know…
FACT 1: SIZE They are 77 million strong right now, and represent 24% of the population. No group that size should be ignored. They have the power to make or break brands just by buying them aggressively or passively. Any business that does not specifically plan to target this generation is sadly missing a monster source of revenue.
FACT 2: INFLUENCE In just 4 years, they will be 40% of the electorate and thus, our political future is in their hands. Already, they are 36% of the workforce and that number will rise dramatically, as they are largely unemployed and in school currently. When they all graduate, they will be the most educated demographic in history, flooding the workplace.
FACT 3: MEDIA They won’t be catching your commercials on TV as 50% of them do not even own a TV like mom and dad did. Those in the 18-29 ages are voracious readers devouring more print than all other generations before them. The New York Times has more print subscribers ages 18-24 than digital subscribers the same age. They are less likely to listen to radio and more likely to download their music and skip the commercials. They trust print media more than digital to be factually correct, and once they have those facts, they will post and tweet them via digital word of mouth without hesitation.
FACT 4: LOYALTY Millennials trust brands that put a social conscience first, ahead of profit. The more you can convince them that your brand helps solve some of the world’s problems, the more likely they will pledge their dollars to you. They form their branding opinions earlier than previous generations, having been exposed to far more advertising. They can be tremendously loyal, but if you fail to win them over in their Millennial years, the odds are they won’t buy from you for the rest of their lives. Businesses will have a very expensive and time-consuming task to try to win them back. Better to win them over now. Failure to market to them now spells disaster down the road.
FACT 4: CONSUMERISM By 2018, they will be spending over $3.39 TRILLION a year and they will spend that mostly on lifestyle, entertainment, fashion music, dining and consumer goods. That’s good news for retailers and food suppliers and not so good for investment folks. Thanks to their employment rate, the Millennials are getting a late start on spending so it appears they will save little once their ship comes in. But if 77 million people spending every dime they have excites you, then start getting your brand in front of them now.
FACT 5: URBANISM Forget the home in the country or the burbs. Millennials want to be right in the middle of the action. Great news for downtown rehabs, condo living, apartments in the hub of entertainment zones and transportation via the likes of Uber and others. Many Millennials won’t put as high a value on cars as they plan to live near their favorite things, ride-share, and use mass-transit options more. The cars they do buy will be more economical and energy-conscious and less concerned with performance.
FACT 6: TECHNO-OVERLOAD While very tech-savvy, they are not as impressed by it as you might think. As the first generation to be raised 100% on the Internet and digital age, they have been exposed to so much of it, that it has become a bit ordinary to them. While early adopters, they are early discarders too, losing interest easily. They will need to be marketed to more frequently to hold brand interest. Those who keep their marketing fresh and in front of Millennials with frequency will survive. Those who hope for them to remember them and not notice the competition will lose their business and that is not something any business will be able to afford to do. Advertising expenditures will have to increase in most companies to capture and keep them. Even giants like Facebook will have to find new ways to get in front of them and stay there if their brand is to survive.
FACT 7: TRUST Millennials use a tremendous amount of social media and web, but they do not necessarily trust it as credible. They have all experienced erroneous information, ripoffs, scams, an overload of misleading digital ads, forced video commercials and renegade pop-ups that invade every single item of interest they wish to read on the Internet. Even successful review sites that invite public commentary such as Yelp, are having less impact on consumer decisions as it all gels down to a pile of mixed opinions and mean-spirited rants. In the end, they will trust friends and more credible, traditional media such as magazines, newspapers, billboards and other mediums less accessible to the public because they instinctively know it costs money to print and create this type of messaging. They are more likely to believe their communications with each other digitally, than your digital communications to them.
FACT 8: PRINT/TRADITIONAL MEDIA IS NOT DEAD TO THEM Since they were not raised as heavily on print, it still holds value to them. Much like living in a tropical paradise eventually becomes dull, so does their opinion of digital advertising. Over 50% of Millennials and Generation “Xers” prefer print as a source of information and prefer reading because they can “touch” the product and hold it in their hands. 87% of Millennials would rather purchase and read a printed textbook, even when the digital version was offered to them for free. 43% of college students will read on-campus publications while only 10% will read the online versions of those same publications. The age group where print readership is highest in the US: 18-29!
FACT 9: NO FEAR OF RECESSION This generation has no recollection of what it is like to live in a depression, a recession, a post-war economy, a stock market crash or any period of scarcity. Those types of conditions seem like ancient history lessons to them. They will spend more of their gross income than any generation ever has and save less as a result. They will only spend it with brands they know and like however, and with all the advertising they are exposed to, they will tend to give their business to the companies that advertise the most. The more advertising, the more word of mouth, the more they spend. This creates more of the same cycle of spending as companies reinvest their dollars in more advertising. The companies that understand this will inherit the lion’s share of the Millennial dollars. The good news is that it is a simple way to win their wallets.
FACT 10: LATE MARRIAGE & CHILDREN Thanks to more of the Millennials being educated and spending more time in higher education/college, they have a higher unemployment rate. Thus, they will start their families later on. This is good news for retail, dining, entertainment, luxury and travel purveyors as they will have a longer cycle of youthful adult spending prior to settling down and raising the kids. Their lives are a bit more self-centered than the generations before them and although more socially and environmentally in tune with the world, they will tend to have a “me first” attitude as they see others in their social sphere doing similarly. Again, there is a longer spending cycle, but only for the companies they patronize, and they will patronize the companies that advertise to them most. The spending patterns their parents developed will most likely be disregarded unless they market to this generation with the same fierceness they did to their parents. Many brands have figured that out and are reinventing themselves to appeal to this new brand of wideeyed consumer.
WHAT TO DO? The Millennials can be yours for another 50 years – A merchandising shot in the arm for America’s sagging economy to be sure. Never in the history of the United States has there been a better group to market to, who will spend more, spend longer and remain loyal IF and ONLY IF you know them and market to their needs. As this becomes more obvious, businesses will attempt to market to 18-29 year-olds more and more, creating fierce competition. Businesses that think they can get by on word of mouth or compulsory Facebook and Twitter-like marketing maneuvers are in for a rude awakening. It appears that the Millennial generation will be harder to impress and less likely to fall for the technotricksterism that has worked over the past 2 decades. They are the most digitally-savvy consumers ever to plunder the Earth and companies will have to market to them using both creative digital and traditional media platforms combined. The companies that market to them repeatedly and most invasively using all forms of media will find themselves getting more of their business. Balanced media plans should be considered as the human mind can only stand so much digital input. While computers have created a mechanism for delivering voluminous amounts of information, we have to remember that the end-recipient is still a human being and their brains do not hold any more information…or hold it any longer than their parents brains did. Finally, as humans, they still react to emotional triggers and messages and will tend to respond better to emotional messages, than informational messaging. That means, keep the advertising message short and high-impact. Use basic emotions to create purchasing just as past generations did. In that sense, marketers can rejoice with relief and stop trying to create 100 ways for a hologram to pop out of a wristwatch. Hammer the basics and hammer them frequently. The human brain is still in control and the more things change, the more they remain the same.