“Millennials” should be a familiar term to every marketer. If not, here’s the explanation: Millennials refer to the generation born between 1980 and 1999. In English, they are also referred to as “Generation Y”, as representatives of this age group are known for questioning many things. In contrast to the previous Generation X, Millennials are the first generation to grow up as digital natives, i.e. in the digital world. Due to these influences, the generation developed completely different from the previous ones and must therefore be addressed differently in the marketing context.
But growing up with digital media is not the only difference that sets Millennials apart from other generations. Whereas it used to be normal to do an apprenticeship or start a course of study straight after school, today it’s the exception rather than the rule if you don’t spend a year or more abroad to gain new experiences. It’s also not uncommon for millennials to spend more than three years studying for a bachelor’s degree. Because of this they’re still just starting their careers in their late 20s. And once they’re on the job, many attach greater importance to having enough free time, a work-life balance and the opportunity to work from home – top salaries are becoming increasingly unimportant.
On average, Millennials spend around 3.2 hours a day online – that’s almost one day a week! They are also increasingly relying on smartphones and tablets for this purpose, and the laptop or desktop is losing importance away from the world of work. Hardly any Millennial does not use one of the many social networks, which are now not limited to Facebook and Instagram anymore.
There is also a clear trend in shopping: 80% of Millennials shop online. For online store owners, this means that their websites must be easily visible on mobile, because who would buy a product that can barely be seen because the images are too small?
Millennials also differ from other generations in their approach to money. Whereas older generations used to rely more on protection in the form of home purchases and savings, only 39% of the generation say that protection is important. More than 75% prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than possessions, often spending most of it on concerts and events.
Happiness is more important than money – that sums up the Millennials’ view well. And who is surprised? After all, this generation experienced the 2008 financial crisis firsthand and saw for themselves how quickly large fortunes can shrink. Thus, the availability of a product is becoming much more important than the actual possession of it. Netflix offers the best example here. For Millennials, owning the movies is not important – they want to be able to watch them whenever they want. Whether it’s Spotify, car-sharing or Uber: everywhere, it’s all about having products or services ready to call up at any time; owning them takes a back seat.
It’s striking that this generation does a lot more research before making a purchase decision. This is quite understandable when you grow up with the fact that there are 15 alternatives to every brand-name product that differ in price, performance and quality. The smartphone makes information on the Internet much more accessible than it was just a few years ago. For sellers, this means that information about products must be very easily accessible – not only in brick-and-mortar retail, but also in online retail.
For many companies today, the question arises as to whether marketing specifically targeted at Millennials makes any sense at all. After all, due to declining birth rates, one might think that this generation doesn’t have an overly large number of representatives, especially compared to Baby Boomers or Generation X. Yet Millennials are the largest living generation in the U.S. and are projected to make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Thus, Millennials will be a major buying force in a few years at the latest – so now is the time to develop a plan to meet the demands of this generation.
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