Keeping track of Generation Y


Written by Suzy Clemo

So what exactly are Millennials up to these days? Understanding what makes Millennials tick is the billion-dollar question for businesses around the globe. Millennials have grown up in a completely different world to anyone before them, they are shaping the corporate landscape around us and they are the future. However, just one Google search reveals information that’s overwhelming and confusing; ‘they’re fickle’, ‘they’re loyal’… ‘They’re money-savvy’, ‘they’re big-spenders-without-consequences’. The complexity of trying to describe an entire generation under a single banner leads to inevitable contradictions and makes decoding this generation difficult, nay impossible.

Instead, we’re going to focus on a few of the more interesting trends we’ve seen exhibited by some Millennials, and why it matters for your business. Looking forward, we’ll also be championing a trailblazing millennials community to keep on top of the latest trends (more on that later).

The Millennial landscape is shifting from digital immigrants to digital natives

The first generation of digital natives are forcing our clients to change. Digital natives demand seamless interaction and connectivity with none of the traditional limitations of time and space.
Whilst we know that social media has infiltrated all generations no-one is more comfortable online than the digital native; I challenge anyone outside this generation who sees a role for ongoing conversation with the same people across WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & Snapchat – for digital natives, texting is seen as out-of-date. It has changed the way they; socialise, work, learn, date & shop to name just a few. With online shopping in particular, new expectations are set almost weekly. They want and expect convenience, instantaneousness and confidence now that reviews and online tutorials are the norm. This has huge implications for brands and traditional advertising as here is a generation who do not miss owning a television or home telephone, but life without Wi-Fi can be difficult to comprehend. The chances are if a product or advert is well-liked, it’s probably already been ‘liked’ and talked about online. Ways to connect with Millennials on these platforms are ever evolving, take the live feed brands now on Snapchat for example. Its vital businesses stay one step ahead if they aim to keep in touch with this generation.

A conscientious generation: what, you mean Millennials aren’t lazy & self-absorbed?

It’s very easy to focus on negatives when it comes to Millennials. Many popular opinions on Millennials centre on them being entitled, shallow or lazy. Are Millennials really as bad as people make out? The Millennial generation has already been the driving force behind huge advances in equality and human rights. Websites such as Change.org has married important social causes and the digitally native world. You can’t open Facebook or Twitter without seeing petitions for social change; whether it be against tax-dodging politicians, Angora fur production or the ban of microbead products.

Sustainability is rising up the agenda because unlike generations that have come before them, they no longer have the luxury of saying “not in my lifetime”. While only some millennials (such as the zero-waste bloggers) have made full lifestyle changes, the fact is their lifestyles are more sustainable and there is a growing awareness of social issues. Millennials have grown up in a world where recycling is becoming the norm as is paying for plastic bags. Car ownership is declining and there has been a rise in meat-free or ‘flexitarian’ diets, which are allowing them to support the sustainability agenda and feel good about themselves at the same time. Whatever area you work in, your strategy must have CSR in mind, and the ability to communicate your activity in this field will invoke an emotional connection with your brand.

The power of story-telling on a discerning generation

On top of a rise in social issues, many Millennials are responding to brands and products that have a story. Within social groups there is practically competition of who can name the best craft ale, the best street food stall, any product that feels authentic and good quality (or at least appears it on Instagram). Craft industries are a great example here, where Millennials appear to be spending more (and perhaps consuming less) to ‘experience’ a little of the brand story and in doing so equip themselves with social-currency in their circle. We all know Millennials spend their often limited funds discerningly so ask yourself, what’s your brand story that might gain you a few more Millennial pounds for your bottom line? Many brands are already innovating in storytelling, some more successfully than others.

Living in the here and now… but it’s not as you might think

It’s common knowledge that for many millennials the traditional ‘rites of passage’ such as home ownership are a distant dream, and can feel unachievable. We also know that because of this Millennials are splashing out on high ticket items like technology & holidays. However, there is also increasing evidence that millennials are fickle, and conditioned by the recession to be savvy savers. If you’re in the financial industry, no doubt you’re accustomed to the oncoming wave of ‘do it yourself’ online banks that satisfy millennials thirst for control and knowledge at their fingertips.

As another way to overcome economic hardships, joint ownership and cost sharing are revolutionising the commercial landscape…

The ‘sharing’ generation

For many Millennials sharing isn’t just about social media, it goes much further than that. More and more, sharing is infiltrating other aspects of their lives thanks to the uncertain economic market they face. As they’re competing for jobs, struggling to work their way up the ladder, earning less and often saddled with debt, crowdsourcing is becoming the norm. Millennials are openly embracing initiatives such as Air BnB, Uber ‘pool’ and even property crowdfunding. With car ownership on the decline there has been a rise in services such as Zipcar, or trends of sharing production rather than paying the expert – ‘paint parties’ for example. These services help Millennials to do the same things, without the restrictions of paying for ownership. Your business should be aware of the potential of crowdsourcing to undercut your market position.

Final thoughts & our Millennial trailblazers

Millennials are shaping the world in new and exciting ways every week, and we’ll be keeping track of all the latest trends and what it means for your business. With this firmly in mind we’re excited to announce that we’re currently setting up a cutting edge digital community to give us the juiciest insights into what millennials are up to. If you have any burning questions, areas of interest you want us to explore or you simply want to find out more about Millennials, get in touch with Suzy@rdsiresearch.com