Feb 1, 2012

Millennials and Wharholism

Most entrepreneurs and business managers are aware of two important trends that affect business these days:
1. The Baby Boomer Generation is HUGE, reaching retirement, and possesses significant assets that they are predisposed of spending.  They are also easier to relate to for most business managers (i.e. - me).
2. The birth rate in the US has been in decline, meaning that the market for upcoming generations of consumers is shrinking.  As well, generations such as the Millennials are maturing faster and are more sophisticated then their predecessors, which means they are more difficult to reach (figuratively) and relate to.
It is easy, therefore, to tend toward a business strategy that focuses on older consumers (let's face it, it's smart move).  With that said, however, if companies are able to develop a strategy to tap into the potential of younger generations (an easy task if understood properly), they can develop an intense loyalty that will be easy to defend against larger, stodgier companies.

Tina Wells of Buzz Marketing penned a great article in YEC (Young Entrepreneurs Council), a wonderful resource for young and aspiring entrepreneurs.  In the article, "Ten Millennial Trends for 2012", Wells lays out very useful insights for how Millennials are shaping up to be consumers.  These trends are can be a little intimidating, especially to aging managers operating under older business paradigms.  The behaviors, desires and ambitions of Millennials are disruptive and differ radically from even the generation preceding them.  The reality is that every new generation following will require an entirely new understanding.

Here are some of the highlights of her article, including her new "buzz" phrases and words (which are actually quite entertaining to say):
  • Conscious Consumption and Profitable Purpose: Brands that contribute to the "greater good" are more likely to be in the good graces of Millennials.
  • Cake Baking: Millennials are interested, curious and active.  They also have the ability to research and find information 24/7.  Businesses should embrace this and be prepared for an unprecedented amount of transparency. 
  • Instanity: I love this one. Millenial's desire to have and the ability to get anything, anywhere, any time.  They have it, and there is no taking it away.
  • Hand-Me-Ups: Millennials are more prone to be "first adopters", and parents less so.  There is therefore a trend for parents to buy new items, especially technology items, for their kids and use the older devices.  Not necessarily for my selfish needs, but generally speaking.
  • Wharholism:  Millennials are less concerned with fame, but they know it can be obtained easily.  With the access to Tweeter and YouTube, kids with real talent now have the tools to reach a large audience quickly.  They are also becoming less interested in A-list celebrities, and these celebrities are finding it more difficult to manage their reputation with the fickle younger and connected generations.
  • Existential Experience: Millennials are about the "once in a lifetime experience", and they want to live life to the fullest.  For most, working and saving are less attractive than risk taking and experience. 
  • Technoholism: This is the first generation who will not only be completely comfortable with technology, they will be uncomfortable without it. Content is king, and creating an "Existential Experience" through technology will keep them engaged.  It should not be looked at as a threat but an opportunity.
  • Segmented Engagement: The attention span of Millennials is shrinking.  It has ... wait, what was I saying?  I jest, but with all the distractions, messages need to be said fast, right and quickly.
These are great points about the Millennials, and if business managers want to successfully tap the potential of these up and coming consumers, we should embrace and not repudiate these trends.  Let's engage, have fun and create those "once in a lifetime experiences" for ALL of us.

Whoops, gotta to ... got a new text message and a move on "Words for Free"!