In recent months, statistics and articles about my tech-savvy, disloyal and hard-to-engage generation have dominated news headlines.
As we all know, the business landscape is rapidly changing and I truly believe my generation - The Millennials - are driving this change. I want to explain why 2015 will be the year when we will finally see the rise, and feel the power, of the Millennial consumers.
It’s no secret Millennial consumers are turning the world upside down, opening a whole new frontier and causing brands and marketers enormous headaches. We are the first generation in history that is forcing everyone to question their out-dated, siloed engagement methods and marketing strategies.
In the latter months of 2014 we saw brands desperately scrambling to entice my generation of consumers who, in my opinion, they just don’t understand. From funny cat videos on YouTube to meaningless selfie campaigns on Instagram, the internet was buzzing, but also proving my point that marketers and brands have no idea what my generation of consumers wants or how to engage with us effectively. Instead their techniques are often ill-thought out and, at times, just plain insulting.
Cat Videos Will Not Buy Our Loyalty
The most important point that marketers and brands seem to be missing is the fact that Millennials are not kids anymore. Whether you like the term “Millennials” or not, worldwide there are 2bn of us between the ages of 18 and 35. We are an extremely powerful consumer group; we will represent more than $2.5 trillion in spending by 2020. In the UK there are 14.6m of us and in 2015 we are on the brink of making some of the most significant purchases and decisions of our lives.
Author and sustainable food advocate Anna Lappé famously wrote: "Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." This is particularly fitting for my generation. We are embarking on a time in our lives when a lot of big decisions are to be made relating to cars, homes, holidays, children, finances, healthcare… the list goes on. In doing so, Millennials are deciding how their future will play out. The game of life is just ramping up for us, and the decisions we make now can, and will, affect the rest of our lives. Allegiances are forged in this critical time. We will remember this as our first major life struggle and anyone who helps us during this crucial period will be remembered fondly.
In 2015 and for many years to come an opportunity exists for businesses to capture the hearts of Millennials; if they play their cards right now they can influence a generation of consumers with their entire adult purchasing lives ahead of them. Funny cat videos may entertain me on a Monday morning, but it will most definitely not influence me to buy from you, unless what you are selling is some really awesome product my cat can’t live without.
We Have No Limits
Millennials were brought up being told they can do “anything and everything” and that’s precisely what shaped us into who we are today. We have more options available to us than any previous generation. The explosion of online knowledge sharing has made education available to the masses, worldwide. Money, class and location no longer limit the opportunities to learn, explore and make up our own minds about what we want or don’t want.
We are not afraid to make ourselves heard or to express our unhappiness. We will see a lot more of this attitude from young people in 2015 and brands must adapt to this and get better at customer service, especially online. When I have an issue I ask brands to help me on Twitter and most of my friends do the same! If you upset me, I’ll be sure everyone I know will soon hear about my experience. We talk about our experiences to our friends online and offline; Millennials have no fear or limits when it comes to pursuing what we want.
We Can Make Our Own Luck
We have been shaped by the economic times in which we grew up. The technological revolution and the global financial crisis have shaped our abilities as well as our expectations. A lot of us have been unemployed during the recession and this has made us explore other ways to make a living.
Your employees are your brand’s biggest advocates. Millennials are the first generation graduating from university into a start-up tech revolution; we have opportunities literally at our fingertips with endless opportunities to make a career for ourselves online. My generation isn't dependent on employers to give us jobs; we can make our own luck online; the world really is an oyster to us.
And Finally …
Old-school marketing just doesn't cut it anymore. Big budget advertising doesn’t buy market share, but meaningful content does. So stop wasting your money and start thinking about educational and meaningful content from which we can learn or benefit. Be generous, give back to communities, show me that you understand me and that you care, and I’ll do the same in return.
As is commonly said, “change is the only constant” and to thrive in this new, digitally connected and collaborative world, companies must become organizations that don’t only understand, but are able to swiftly adapt to, change. In 2015 business will need to understand and adapt to us ”the Millennial consumers” or fade into oblivion, because we are here to stay.