Move Over Baby Boomers, Start Marketing To Millennials
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.” – Alan Watts
Last week, I learned an astonishing fact. It was a clarifying moment and a stark wake-up call to a surge of change that is about to challenge marketing’s entire way of being.
In 2014, the workplace is comprised of 50% baby boomers, 25% millennials and 25% other.
In one year, the workplace will completely flip to 50% millennials, 25% baby boomers and 25% other.
To state the obvious: the impact on business, marketing and our world will be epic. It’s time to hunker down, get smarter and prepare for this seismic shift.
How Is This Possible and Who’s Who?
Baby boomers, at 80 million strong, have enjoyed the spotlight for many years. The sheer size of this generation has justified the focus and attention. The millennial generation is sized at 71 million, a number adequate to eclipse the baby boomers.
Let’s start with some basic definitions:
Generation Born Coming of Age Size
Baby Boomers 1946-1965 1968-1988 80 million
Gen X 1965-1980 1987–2002 41 million
Millennials ( Gen Y) 1980 – 2000 2002-2022 71 million
Marketing To Millennials
In a nut shell, millennials are individuals who are hyper-connected digitally, value community and transparency, demand responsiveness, crave flexibility and thrive in casual, non-hierarchical environments.
Here are five “F’s” that describe millennials and things they most value:
Fast: As children who grew up texting and connecting via social media, immediate responsiveness is critical. Millennials are a sophisticated bunch, and their grasp and engagement with social media and digital platforms is astonishing – they are tech-savvy whiz kids!
Operating in the age of immediacy and showing full transparency on-line (of their personal identity comprised of their personal and professional lives) is a stand-out hallmark of the millennial generation.
Flat: Millennials, while multi-dimensional, abhor hierarchy. They rail against the traditional corporate models of titles, levels and rigid structures. It’s not about authority, it’s about credibility. Companies that value creativity, reward results and operate with very flat organizations is the model that millennials understand and support.
Flexibility: The 9-5 , Monday through Friday work week is too stiff and strict for millennials. Eighty percent of millennials believe they should make their own work schedule. Forcing compliance into a cookie-cutter schedule will not be possible for companies trying to engage and employ millennials.
They will work when they want to work and manage to outcomes vs. hours. Money – not the prime motivator for millennials – will not likely change this perspective. Their view is that they would rather have no job than one that they hate.
Faraway: In addition, offices may become less popular as millennials become the majority. Remote workers and working from home or coffee shops is a millennial’s preference. The rise of the remote worker is here. Extend this thinking into “business casual” at the office every day all day.
The twist? Millennials view business casual as jeans and are content to work in them – no matter the profession or company – 100% of the time.
Friends: Getting likes and digital recognition among friends is a highly sought after event for millennials. My new friend Rob Fuggetta, CEO of Zuberance shared the PBS special, “Generation Like”, which explains this in a startling way. Co-workers are also important sources of friendships as 88% of millenials expect them to be friends.
The power of peer-to-peer reviews, comments and behaviors is now the key driver to brands and businesses.
Millennials, as consumers, are our new marketers.
What Does This Mean for Marketing?
This transformation is the most enormous one in our lifetime. Learning how to connect, collaborate and communicate with millennials is the single most important skill to develop… Right Now!
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