Generational Marketing: the Millennials

Generational Marketing is a series on working with and marketing to the five primary generations in the U.S. population: the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. Arguably the most talked about generation of present day, Millennials have been relegated to a wide range of stereotypes-many less than flattering. But there's more to Millennials than meets the eye.

About the Generation

There is disagreement about the specific birth years associated with Millennials, but most agree that people born from the early 1980s to the late-1990s fall into the generation. Millennials make up the largest chunk of the U.S. population.

Also known as Generation Y and Generation Me, the Millennials are products of Boomer parents, which creates an interesting dynamic in the rhetoric around their shortfalls. (Especially when you consider how many Millennials live with their parents.)

Working with the Generation

Millennials are the first generation of digital natives and that has a major impact on the way they work. Access to technology that makes life easier and more productive is nonnegotiable. A survey by Microsoft found that 93 percent of Millennials said modern technology was one of the most important aspects of a workplace.

Millennials integrate their work and personal lives, but they expect balance and both financial and altruistic rewards. The ability to work remotely, and on a flexible schedule, is a big selling point. Millennials also expect to be mentored by more experienced colleagues and want to learn new things, especially when it relates to technology.

Marketing to the Generation

53% of Millennial households already have children and they tend to take a balanced approach to parenting, with considerably less adherence to traditional gender roles. Many brands are struggling to adapt and marketing strategies often miss the mark. At best, advertising feels out of touch and, at worst, downright offensive.

Buried by massive debt from college and credit cards loans, Millennials tend to be thoughtful about where they spend the dollars they have. A reluctance to purchase big ticket items like cars, homes and luxury goods has given rise to the sharing economy, which gives Millennials access to conveniences without the burden of ownership.

Health and wellness are areas where Millennials are willing to drop some cash. But it's bigger than gym memberships and the latest sneakers. This generation is not just concerned with healthy eating (including organic and locally grown produce) and exercise, they are also using apps and other technology to track their activities.

Heavily influenced by a global worldview, Millennials are motivated by causes greater than themselves and they expect brands to have higher purposes, too. Millennials who intend to stay with their current employer the longest share their organization's values and are more satisfied with its sense of purpose.

Millennials have a lot to offer in the workplace, marketplace and at home. Knowing who they are, what they value and where they're headed can help you maximize this generation's potential for your organization.

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