Millennials may also be known as the Gen Y preceded by Generation Next, this group is the largest consumer market since the Baby Boomers. They are the approximately 80 million individuals born between 1977 and 1995 to possibly the early 2000s who grew up with the Internet. Although generations generally span twenty years, some demographic definers suggest the actual dates are 1975 to 2000, while others suggest a time frame of 1985 to 2005. Advertising Age, the influential magazine for advertising, marketing and media professionals coined the term “Gen Y” in 1993 targeting late X-ers born between 1974 and 1980-- so these are truly children of the advertising era. Having been raised in the 1990s, their parents worked extra hard to strike a balance between work and family after the workaholic atmosphere of the ’80s.
Generation Y comprises the children of the Boomers, and is sometimes called “Echo Boomers” since their large numbers are due to the fact that the huge parental cohort chose to reproduce at this time. This generation has an estimated 80 million members and has finally eclipsed the last birth explosion of 78.2 million Baby Boomers.
Members of Generation Y have been influenced by their parents to value education. They’ve worked several part-time jobs and already know what they want from their careers once they reach the marketplace. To Gen Y, technology is a fait accompli. They’re aware of every up-and-coming trend and are the first to embrace or reject it. The spontaneity of the Internet keeps them ahead of most businesses; for instance, they seem to know what their favorite stars are wearing almost before the designers and retailers do. To this cohort, online customer service is crucial to their decision making as they have the experience to research one company over another; benefits such as expedited shipping and generous return policies rank high. They’re style-conscious, tech-savvy, and "prematurely affluent" due to their boomer parents’ prosperity. Millennials appreciate when entertainment is part of the message they receive from retailers. Retro themes are very popular in this group -- even reflecting times as recent as the ‘80s.
Online marketing expert Kelly Mooney, in a 2006 study, found that while Gen Y’s are “self-expressive, confident and optimistic, they are also assimilative, risk averse and rarely make a purchase decision without consulting their peer networks. Just like Boomers, they have strong opinions, but more so than Boomers, they feel compelled to share their opinions with their massive peer networks.”Authenticity and transparency in the way you do business is important to this group. Their interpretation of how things should be done gives them the innate talent to sniff out sleazy sales techniques. Give them community to share with their peers instead of marketing at them.
According to Ken Gronback, author of The Age Curve: How to profit From the Coming Demographic Storm, “Gen Y is already consuming at 500% of the level of their Boomer parents age for age in adjusted dollars.” In other words, this generation may just become the largest spenders in history.
However, the perception of entitlement issue rears its ugly head with this group. They are sometimes referred to as the ‘Trophy Generation’, which reflects a current trend in children’s competitive sports -- as well as in many other aspects of their lives -- where “no one loses” and everyone gets a trophy to promote the sense that they’ve all done well. Many in this cohort are the aforementioned “boomerang” generation; delaying the transition of passing into adulthood by living at home.
Members of this generation tend to want lots of attention and have the need to feel “special.” If you approach this crowd with “what you can do for them” and offer a community with spontaneity, you’re got their attention.
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