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Influencing Gen Yers Requires Different Channels, Different Messages

By Andy Marken

Although Boomers are the ones with most of the disposable income (70 percent in the U.S.), Gen Yers, also known as the Millennial Generation, are the biggest spenders (82 percent of their income). And Gen Yers will spend longer.


It is estimated that there are roughly 1.8 billion Millennials on the globe today; and while you may look down on them right now, by 2025 they’ll comprise 75 percent of the workforce.
What’s depressing (to me) is that their earnings are projected to outpace Boomer earnings by 2018.
Of course, the May 20 Time cover article calling them the “Me, Me, Me Generation” was intriguing, since we were labeled the Generation Me.
In skimming most of the follow-on articles, depending on the age of the writer, it was either:
Gawd you hit the nail on the head
You’re so full of it
First was the claim that they, more than any other generation, suffer from narcisstic personality disorders (they like themselves) to bordering on being egocentric.
Jeezz … that’s me!

NPD Really - Researchers claim Millenials are more wrapped up in themselves than any previous generation. Of course there are probably people who would swear that you – and your entire generation – were that way too. Being concerned about personal adequacy, power, prestige and your looks is part of growing, finding your way. Just watch where you’re going.
If they’re so vain and preoccupied with themselves, why:
Is there such an obesity problem?
Doesn’t anyone dress like those Brooks Bros. catalog models?
Do folks go out for dinner in t-shirts, slouchy shorts and baseball cap on … backward?
If that’s a self-image, it’s a helluva’ image!
Just Different
Of course, they said/will say the same things about the Silent Gen, Boomers, Gen Xers and Gen Cers (connected).
They’re different.
Hate to think they were making the same mistakes I made.
In the U.S., the number of Boomers and Millennials are roughly equal; but in other parts of the world they outnumber us.

Two Power Sources – Globally, Millennials account for about 1.8B members of the population and Boomers a similar number. Millennials were born connected and they’ve helped Boomers speed their adoption of mobile/connected technology and the social media world. Millenials are important because they’re being groomed to assume the mantle of business leadership.
They are the first generation to grow up in a digital world; and they came of age during the great recession, so they are always online with any/every device.
That challenges older business leaders and marketers because they don’t really have a pattern of consumer behavior.
As Don Diego Vega asked rhetorically, “How could I refuse a man anything with a naked sword in his hand?”
The Time article labeled them lazy and bemoaned the fact that they’re still living with their parents.
Gee, a recession sorta’, kinda’ says jobs are hard to come by and they do have those student loans to pay off.
Keeping ‘Em Out
O.K., I converted our kids’ rooms to a gym and an office -- just in case they wanted to move home – but I’d invite them back for a week or two.
Rather than narcissistic and lazy, some prefer to label them naive, innocent, unspoiled, hungry, foolish.
When I was their age, I was bulletproof and everything was within my reach.
They’re smarter because they have not only been online from the start but have also been using social media like there’s no tomorrow.

Developed, Perfected – We often forget that social media was developed by Millenials to talk with other Millenials – across campus, across the country, around the world. Then, to make scads of money, they invited the rest of us to develop, expand, exploit new relationships. We made the technology our own very quickly.
Yes, they strike out on their own, even start their own businesses--remember where all that social media came from?
Yep, Millennials.
Older generations tend to use the iNet for research, shopping and banking.
Gen Yers use it for everything … video, news, staying in touch, and even crowdsourcing their purchasing decisions.

Brand Connections – Millenials actively connect with brands, products, companies more frequently than other generations; but they also expect more in return like discounts, special offers, response to their product feedback. They are also more vocal online – pro and con – regarding their experiences with companies and products.
In other words, they’re confident, connected, open to change/ideas.
Idea Exchanges
Someone said they have a hard time making their own decisions, which is why they crowdsource and tend to validate every purchasing decision online. Seems a little smart to me, which is probably why they are constantly checking and interacting with online content.
As Don Diego Vega exclaimed, “How vexatious!”
Its part of validating and being validated in the global community they (and we) live in.
They’re probably a little more open-minded; but they’ve grown up in the global online environment so they’re more aware of different cultures, different people, different ways of life, different thinking.
Because they are so extremely mobile and budget conscious, millennials have readily adopted smartphones as their first choice (notebooks are #2) for computing/communications, while the tablet is their gaming, entertainment screen of choice.

I like my smartphone and use it/check it a lot, but sleep with it?
Nope … the wife isn’t “that” tolerant!
Constantly in Touch
Since the smartphone is the gotta’ have mobile device for millennials, it also explains why any company that wants to reach these individuals has to have a strong and effective mobile marketing strategy (a little on the weak side right now for almost everyone).
There are enough apps available – free and minimal payment – which the Gen Yer can ensure he/she stays connected.
If you need some good news about the Millennial “market” here it is…
Like Ads
According to a recent study across 11 countries by online community 8025 Live, they actually like ads (only 3 percent think they’re boring).
Of course, they want brands/ads that:
Are in the format that’s right for their device (mobile phone)
Entertain them (80%) and give them online content they can use, repurpose, share (40%)
Enable life experiences (75%) and mentor/guide them (65%)
Help them connect, share with others (60%)
Thanks to their openness and what I might call their over willingness to share information about themselves (which produces mineable Big Data), advertisers/brand management is also in a better position to tailor messages to Gen Yers.

Of course, when Gen Xers think of the prospective customer as something of a lazy freeloader, that’s a little difficult.
Especially when millennials share ideas, recommendations so readily, they really do influence purchasing decisions among their peers as well as boomers.
Because they’re so free with their information and ideas, they are also ready with their feedback to the company (70% said they posted good/bad experiences).
More importantly, they actually expected the company, product team to respond … poor, naive kids!!!
Remember:
There are roughly 2 billion millennials on the planet
They are coming to the point in their lives where they’ll be the major part of the workforce and decision makers
They have great earning/buying potential
Maybe we need to pay closer attention to them.
They can be a very vocal group of brand advocates.
Unlike the Time article’s assertions, they are concerned about the future but on a broader scale because of their global online experience.
They’re focused more on their community and country.
Other than that, they’re not much different.

As Don Diego Vega said, “We're going to marry and raise fat children and watch our vineyards grow.”
They have their personal goals set on having a partner to share their life/home with and most will probably want to contribute to starting the next generation that we’ll be able to complain about.
O.K., but enough about them … more about me!
www.markencom.com

 

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