How Millennials Became the World’s Most Powerful Consumers
Millennials are defined as those children born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s. They have overtaken the number of Baby Boomers, who had been the largest force guiding and affecting consumerism for the past three decades. Because they make up such a large segment of the population, they drive many demographic bridges that affect how business is done. They are at the forefront of political leadership, types of jobs, consumer sales, types of businesses, and other areas that will ultimately change the ideologies of our society.
Their racial and ethnic diversity makes them unique, but the disparities in income, housing, education and the formation of families are still problems that need to be addressed. This group has made significant changes to the way we live today, especially in the areas of technology and consumerism. As powerful consumers, they hold an enormous advantage; however, the drifting away from the ideals of their parents makes them less likely to adhere to the norms that Baby Boomers expressed.
Millennials have not adopted the belief that home ownership is of paramount importance. More of them, in fact, rent rather than purchase a home. Much of that has to do with their lack of eligibility. Lower credit scores and focus on more experiential practices, such as seeking adventure and living in the moment, place a home outside the reach of many. They do not have the same zeal for savings that their parents did. Of course, many Boomers have not saved sufficiently either. Much of that may be due to difficult financial times and overspending in their earlier working years.
This group’s beliefs drive how they purchase goods and services. Companies that do not adhere to the principles and practices about which they feel passionate are not going to last long. The majority do not follow the one-size-fits-all mentality. They spend money on local items, artisanal purchases, and instant gratification types of experiences. They use technology in every aspect of spending, wanting it to be quick and easy with no cumbersome programs to interfere with speed. They expect everything to be accessible online. While many of them do shop online, surprisingly, many more prefer the offline experience and the first-hand pleasure of the ambience and environment of an establishment. Nevertheless, businesses that do not have online presences still have a very difficult time.
They spend more than any other generation on restaurants, travel and shopping. This may seem out of alignment with their incomes. Many of them still live with parents or accept some form of financial help, allowing them to have these types of experiences. The implications for customer service businesses are great. This group uses social media in very fundamental ways. If they like an establishment or product, they are going to post it, tweet it, and/or review it online. Their peers take these opinions into account when they are seeking places to shop or dine, so it is very significant that businesses cater to the needs of this group.
Being powerful consumers, they care about ethics and authenticity. They are motivated by the sheer appeal and sincerity with which corporations conduct business. That is why it may spell doom to companies that are not environmentally responsible or do not care about having their products made by slave labor in a third-world country. This is especially appealing given their financially- strapped existence. It speaks to a much higher thought process, which shows disdain in their responses to businesses that are driven by the bottom line and lack basic human empathy for others.
Becoming millennial-friendly is worthy of development among customer service businesses. Not only are millennials a large block of powerful consumers, but they are also obtaining authoritative positions in many businesses. Their spending power is important both from outside and inside the corporate world. They are setting trends that will affect how tomorrow’s consumers will perform, shaping the way the rest of the world will think.
As a core market group, they have embraced technology to the point that it supersedes any other form of communication. They are the financial powerhouse that will guide companies for the remainder of this century. Every business will need to adapt to their presence and their way of thinking; otherwise, they will not stay in business. Their short attention span demonstrates that businesses need to keep their company image in front of them, and that entails an online presence in order to market to them.
Their presence is felt around the world, and globalization has only enhanced the depths to which their power has become significant. There is no way around it. Either we adapt, or we languish in a quagmire of failed businesses and unhappy investors. The world has changed with millennials, and we must change with it.