The Millennial Generation

3:45 PM

As a kid from the 90's, I hear the term "Millennials" a lot when referring to our generation by the advertising industry. Being that most of my career has been in social media and online marketing, I can say with conviction that we--the Generation Y kids--are a fickle, self-deserving, and picky bunch that also happens to have immense buying power.

It's as if we're always thinking: 
"I want something....but I don't know what I want." 
"Well then, what about this?" 
"No, not that."
"How about this?"
"No, that's sooo five-years-ago."
"Then what do you need?! What do you want us to do?!?!"
"Hmm...I don't need it. I just want it, but I don't know if I want that exact one."
"Then what do you want?!?! How do we get you to like us???!?!!"
" figure it out!"

Think of how many advertising officials are pulling their hair out at the thought of catering to our trendy generation? Even though I'm a part of this era (maybe even a part of the "problem"?), I can see the marketing struggles to match niche needs in an ever-growing digital world. So I was very intrigued and inspired by this article on by Lydia Dishman and this Forbes web article by Patrick Spenner on how to market to this unique generational market.

Here are some of the key takeaways that I got from my brief research on the topic:

First, what is a Millennial? This info sheet sums it up well in a graphic nutshell:


Generally, most would agree that if you were born somewhere between 1980-2000, you fall in the Millennial category.

There's a shift in values and in what drives this generation


This illustration shows an interesting shift of values. Whereas older generations focused on more communistic ways of getting through life, Millennials are more individualistic and inward-focused, emphasizing values that's important to living and succeeding rather than just getting by. What the above illustration doesn't include and what I personally think is an accomplice to "YOLO" is "FOMO", which as most of you already know, is an acronym for the "feeling of missing out". When a large majority of people of this generation share and discuss a product/event/trend/etc., FOMO arises among nonparticipants and eventually drives them to say "YOLO" and make a decision to join in on said activity.


YOLO and FOMO demonstrate this shift of values. The pursuit of happiness is ranked as the most important value, which goes hand-in-hand with passion and sharing. The saying "Do it with passion or not at all" and "You only live once (YOLO) so make this life worth living" has led us to believe that in order to be truly happy and content with your life, you have to find something you're passionate about so that every day that you work doesn't feel like you're work at all. This is a misleading thought because not everyone is going to be fortunate enough to do a job they love doing. Sorry that's grim, but unfortunately that's the truth! Even with the economic recession and dismal job market, Millennials stay optimistic. We're discontent with the present, but hopeful for the future. Probably because we value happiness so much so that we'll always be on the pursuit for it. After all, there's no hope for happiness if there's no hope for the future, right?

"Growing up" isn't the same anymore

The traditional patterns of lifestages such as getting a job, creating a family, settling down, and ultimately retiring is soon encroaching irrelevancy in our modern society. With more awareness and knowledge of what's out there, we seek out uniqueness because we grew up with the notion that we're all unique snowflakes. Our generation is getting married later, having kids later, and just overall postponing these traditional milestones not because we're unable to acquire such things, but rather because we have the choice to choose otherwise. Older generations (and advertisers) see this shift and say that Millennials need to "grow up". What they don't realize is that most of them already have. Forbes contributor Spenner explains it best on why some brands fail in breaching this market:

"NOT understanding them, NOT finding ways to be relevant or engaging to them, NOT adapting to their new expectations— it’s the easiest way for a brand to fail. Brands need to stop waiting for Millennials to “grow up” and fall in line with what past generations have done. A lot of them already have; it just looks different than it did in the past. Brands and marketers need to shift and adapt to this reality, instead of waiting for one that won’t come true." (source)

Let's Get Personal


Everything now-a-days has to do with personalization and expressing your individual uniqueness. As Diplo put it, "EXPRESS YOSELF!" You can personalize your phone, your glasses, your email newsletters, and even your Hermes bag! Our sense of being interconnected on a global scale leaves us feeling rather small and insignificant at times, which is a natural way of coping with how grand-scale the internet's reach is. So it makes sense that we gravitate toward something that can provide a unique and personalized experience. It's not surprising that "the selfie generation wants to have products and services that are intentional, relevant and tailored to their specific needs [which can be] as diverse as the population"1

So what happens when the same cookie-cutter methods go online for everyone and their moms to use? The value of the experience falters. Brands need to understand that in an era of expanding choices and options, Millennials seek various paths with the end goal of augmenting a positive aspect of their realistic lifestyle and experiences.

In the end, we don't want to waste our time on cookie-cutter BS that'll soon be irrelevant to our current time. Because our life experiences and how we "grow up" is different than before, Millennials are entitled (or feel as if they are) to new and different experiences. We want things now and we want them our way. In essence, we've become more selfish than our preceding generation, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

Times are changing,
people are changing,
life is ever-changing.
It's about time that the way we market experiences changes too.

So I'll leave you to ponder our societal norms with this:
In what direction do you see new media heading towards (i.e. what specific type of media, collaborations, content, usability, etc)? In your own opinion, how will brands alter current marketing/advertising tactics to entice new users to choose their services over other brands? In what ways can brands create unique experiences? How can brands show that it's unique?
What IS eunique now anyways?

I would love to know your thoughts!
xoxo Eunice

(P.S. Shout out if you're a 90's kid!)

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