If you Google the term “Millennials,” you’ll come up with about 13 million results, with titles all over the map:
- The Impact of Millennials
- Millennials Too Good for Gap but Love Walmart
- 15 Economic Facts About Millennials
- Millennials’ Banking Habits Could Make Wall Street Obsolete
One article I read described Millennials as carefree, creative and self-sufficient. They’re cynical, don’t like being told what to do, and wear their social causes on their sleeves.
This doesn’t describe a brand-new human type—this sounds like Baby Boomers back when they were young and just getting started—only Boomers didn’t have the communication tools, the connections and the 24/7 information that Millennials were born with and take for granted.
You would think from today’s press that Millennials are the first generation to passionately take up causes, but Boomers were the first to care about the environment, protest against war and fight for civil rights and liberties. They just had to put aside their passions and playfulness when it was time to grow up and pay the bills.
The reason Millennials can “have it all” and make their passions part of their lives as adults is because today’s connectivity and social platforms give them the resources to do so. They can multi-task. They’re comfortable using multiple devices at the same time, and confident that they can get what they want when they want it. Today’s tools make them quick on their feet.
However, most of us have those same resources today, and can use them to the same advantage if we choose to do so. Just because you were born in a time when it’s easier to connect with more people, have more conversations, buy more goods and get more done in a 24-hour day, that doesn’t make you all that different from other human beings. We’re still people. Our attitudes might be different, but we all have the same basic wants and desires: food, shelter, security, love. We all need to build and sustain human relationships and need to be offered, and take advantage of the best way to do so.
Millennials. They’re human, like you and me
Does that mean brands don’t have to pay attention to what Millennials want? Of course not. Just keep in mind that Millennials are not scary beings from another planet. They’re human, like you and me. And any good marketer knows that in order to gain the attention of a segment of the population, you need to study them and understand their motivations. You don’t have to go crazy dissecting every nuance of their personalities.
My point is that Millennials aren’t so different from Boomers or any other generation (at the same time in their lives), they’re just comfortable with today’s technology and use it to live life the way they want.
When selling to this (or future generations) it helps not to shy away from social technologies but to embrace them as the new reality. Learn to use the tools your market uses to communicate so you can listen and engage with them. But don’t panic—the headlines might be scary, but Millennials are not. You won’t have to learn a new language to build business relationships with them. All you have to do is be a student of human behavior; a good listener and observer—the same as you would for any other market segment. No matter what generation, that’s all it takes to build good relationships… Return on Relationship, #RonR.
Image: Elizabeth Hahn