Over the last decade, Millennials have matured and become an increasingly dominant part of society. This has led to more attention, various opinions forming, and a whole lot of criticism. Generation Y has become synonymous with being lazy, overconfident and entitled. I am here to explain that our generation is filled with entrepreneurs and ambitious talent and we’re not just a bunch of lazy bums. The fact is, we are set to dominate the workforce and spend the most money in the years to come. What does this mean for society? Don’t worry, the big economies of the world won’t stop growing because we are busy updating our FaceBook status or taking a selfie. In fact, I believe that Millennials will make past generations more than pleased with what we can accomplish during our time on top. In this article you will learn a little more about Generation Y, what you can expect from us in the years to come and how you can prepare for the changes that are taking place, whether you like it or not.
Millennials – A Misunderstood Generation Set to Dominate
An Era of On Demand Technology
There’s no doubt that Millennials are driven by technology. Most of us saw the evolution of cell phones, the internet and were early adapters to the gadgets we all love today. We are a generation fueled by social media. We’re used to being updated on what we want, when we want and by which means we want. Whether it’s the latest news, fashion trend or a mind-boggling question we need answered, the information is just a few clicks away. It’s not a mystery why Google will take into account the mobile friendliness of a website when it calculates search result rankings starting April 21st.
What does this mean for the future? Most businesses are taking social media and mobile advertising very seriously. If you’ve not yet adapted to make this part of your marketing plan, it’s time to realign your efforts. Gone are the days of TV commercials influencing our decisions. Only 17% of Millennials said they were influenced to buy from a TV ad. So how does a generation driven by technology make a decision to buy? Believe it or not, word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth has always dominated decisions to purchase, but online reviews are becoming more prevalent in the decision making process. From the mind of a Millennial, I never make a large purchase without first doing thorough research online and looking at past buyers reviews.
So how can you prepare for this? If you have not already adapted to the world of online marketing through social media and a mobile responsive website to capture sales, you better get busy. 41% of Millennials use their smartphones to make purchases. Buy into the fact that more than half of homes with paid TV service also have a DVR. Ads that used to capture the attention of the masses are now skipped over to get back to the next entrepreneur presenting their idea on Shark Tank. Consider hiring a Millennial to run your marketing department. They will know where you should focus your marketing dollars to capture the attention of the largest generation.
Employers Must Be Keen and Rewarding… or Else
A lot of the bad reputation of Millennials originates from the opinions we’ve brought into the workforce. We aren’t a generation who will stick around at a job with minimal benefits, making barely enough money to keep our income up with inflation. Yes, many may consider this entitled, lazy or not being loyal. However, if you take a look at the opportunities available today, we merely want the best for our future. With start-up companies and tech giants rolling out the red carpet of benefits to employees, why would anyone want to settle for just a steady paycheck? What else is molding the generation? Entrepreneurship. Venture capitalists are more than willing to shell out millions for a great idea. The growing population is creating a void which is being filled by small businesses popping up daily. Millennials are not just a money greedy generation looking to make a buck. Part of the problem with many employers today is that they don’t listen. Gen Y wants to be heard! We are a passionate bunch of individuals; a to-do list and weekly paycheck will leave us craving more from our careers. An Article by Millennial Marketing said this:
So what is that ‘right carrot’? Money? Time off? No, it’s voice. And context.
This week, I’ve had the pleasure of talking with three hardworking Millennials. Each has agreed to accompany me to The CMO Summit in New York and we’ve been preparing what to say. The panel will discuss “10 Things Millennials Wish They Could Tell Their CMO”. Like Adrian Dayton, my panelists (marketers with 4-7 years experience) insist they want their companies to get the best of what they have to offer. They also insist that harnessing their ideas has less to do with hours on the job than it does with adequate opportunities to be heard and contribute.
When companies fall short on realizing this, many Millennials look to entrepreneurship as an alternate. 79% of our generation consider quitting their job to work for themselves. It’s never been so easy to start a side business on the internet through platforms like Fiverr and eBay. Because of this, many Millennials will start a business at an early age and never receive a W-2 at tax time. As Gen Y starts to take over the majority of the workforce in 2015, employers can prepare by thinking outside the box of standard benefits. Consider perks such as pets allowed at work, free meals, on-site gyms and meditation rooms, all of which are offered by start-ups around the world. Companies who stick to the standard mold of the past will suffer from high turnover rates and increased hiring costs. Most importantly, let your employees have a voice, we’re not just looking for a fun place to work. Let us own our role and add value to the organization by allowing us to take the lead on assignments. If we aren’t happy with the overall picture at work, we just may become freelancers and start a business of our own.
Student-Debt Will Rule Our Lives
Everyone was impacted in one way or another by the collapse of the housing market. Financial analysts have debated that student lending will be the next bubble to burst. Student debt has surpassed $1.1 trillion and at some point that rising number will have a serious impact on the economy. With the average student graduating college $30,000 in the hole, it leaves less money for Millennials to spend on the things that would boost economic growth.
Housing market experts say we are still several years out from the bulk of Millennials becoming homeowners. Time.com dug a little deeper into the topic and believe the reason is the fact that Gen Y is getting married at a much later age than past generations. I think you can take this a step further and put some of the blame on the amount of student debt that graduates must overcome. Being a man of the Millennial generation, my belief was that I wasn’t ready for marriage until I could provide a home for my bride-to-be. Had prices not reset though the market crash, I still may be saving to buy a home. The effect of the housing decline left a lasting impression not to purchase a home before being financially stable. Even if the banks would allow, most millennials would chose to pay off student loans before taking on a mortgage. Correcting the student debt problem so it does not affect future generations is the bigger challenge. Governor Rick Perry of Texas is seeking to take a chunk out of student debt and has encouraged 13 schools to introduce the $10,000 college degree. It’s this type of progressive thinking that will create hope for our children and grandchildren.
A Generation of Diversity and Equality
45% of Gen Y believes in improving the position of minorities. Millennials are the most diverse generation in history. Growing up in the Cayman Islands and completing high school in Southern California, I grew up with every race around me. I never judged a person by their race and chose my friends based on their qualities more than anything else. The mix of future generations is staged to be even more diverse as we have children and our numbers multiply.
Millennials are the most educated generation in history. Thanks to the higher levels of education women of Gen Y are reaching. A study in 2014 by The Council of Economic Advisers said this:
Women have closed an educational attainment gap with men that dates back to World War II. In fact, starting in the late 1990s, just as the first Millennial cohorts were completing high school, women began to outpace men in completion of both four-year college degrees and post-college educational attainment.
Millennial women on average exceed men in terms of educational attainment. This means they account for an increasingly large share of our skilled workforce and enter the labor force with early career earnings and employment rates that are considerably closer to their male peers.
With a more racially diverse generation and women closing the gap in the workforce, we can hope to see changes in discrimination for the better. If the trends of Millennials continue to grow into future generations, we will get closer to a society based on equality for all.
Millennials See the Glass Half Full… of Soy Milk
Although our wallets were not hit hardest by the great recession, we certainly lived through the hardships and struggled to compete for jobs when things weren’t looking great. Even with the burden of student loans and having experienced darker times, Millennials are the most optimistic about the future when compared to other generations. 49% of Gen Y believes the best years are yet to come. We may not all be in a great position at the moment, but we certainly feel we will get there in the future. Four of every five Millennials were encouraged about the years ahead, even though half of them are living paycheck to paycheck. (1)
Anyone looking to tap into the future finances of our generation would be smart to invest in health and nutrition. Specialty grocery stores, fitness programs and organic food products have already seen how Mellinnals will flock to their brands because of personal health choices. We are a generation consumed with eating right and exercising in uncommon ways. CrossFit, Zumba and spin class are just some of the alternative examples of how Gen Y chooses to get fit in a modern way. According to Barkely, 60% of our generation say they workout on a regular basis, while more than a quarter claim to be health fanatics.
As I hope you can see, Millennials are more than a bunch of overconfident, entitled and lazy individuals. We are diverse, optimistic, driven, and yes, a little tech crazy group of young men and women. We are taking over the workforce or creating a workforce of our own through entrepreneurship. We may not have the money now but in the next several years we will be spending the most, not just on gym memberships and nutrition products, but everything. So rest assured, while we are uploading a photo to InstaGram and pinning our favorite recipe to Pinterest, we are also focused on making a better world for future generations.
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