Entitled, disengaged, and spoiled multitaskers who give too little and expect too much. Sound familiar? The Internet has thousands of articles smearing the Gen Y generation, better known as Millennials, for their less than favorable attributes. But with 10,000 Baby Boomers retiring every day, businesses need to start shifting their focus on the new, largest living generation, ever.
The tell-tale difference between Gen Y and their predecessors is their upbringing. Gen Y grew up with technology: typing classes were offered in elementary school (I clocked 50 WPM in the 2nd grade!), after school activities consisted of chatting on AOL Instant Messenger (oh, the woes of dial-up) and playing computer games (Oregon trail, anyone?). Growing up with quick and constant stimulation has resulted in a some key generational differences that are crucial to Millennial marketing, though.
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Keep up with content. It’s a fact: Gen Y thrives on instant gratification, a byproduct of our techy origins. That means we read less than the average user on the Internet, scanning for specific content online as opposed to consuming complete sites, books, etc. (Are you still with me, Millennials?) Little patience and short attention spans, #nuffsaid. Not to mention, 93% pay for streaming sites such as Netflix or Hulu, and 48% pay for music streaming. We want our information now and we want it to work. Heaven forbid something goes awry online. Millennials hold companies accountable for ensuring their web pages are intuitive and responsive across all platforms at a much higher level than Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts.
Sharing is caring. When Gen Y likes something, they really like it, and want to share it with their world via social media and beyond. Millennials trust their peers over any other source. So companies that add the ability to review a product or service will add a sense of accountability for the brand. Don’t believe me? 84% of millennials report that user generated content on company websites at least somewhat influences what they buy. Sharing is important because they serve as online purchase indicators.
Enhance the individual. Customization: a key word in the world of Gen Y shopping habits. Millennials value the ability to create unique products and experiences. It leaves more room for creativity and gives proof that a company is paying attention to their specific needs––treating them like a partner, not a purchaser. Chain retailer Nike is favorable among this demographic with the NIKEiD product line, allowing customers to pick their own customized shoe styles and colors, then connecting with other Nike customers through an app.
To stay relevant and competitive, companies need to embrace the idiosyncrasies of Millennials, understand the sort of purchases they make, and why.