If you’re reading this article, you’re one step closer to a synopsis of the Millennial generation and their growing impact. A must read for brands, they’re influencing virtually every business segment while leaving a legacy for their Gen Z children to follow. Some companies are adapting to this sea change. Others have been slow in the process.

Following are a few key points to know and remember:

They Want To Change The World.. really!

Millennials sometimes get a bad reputation when all they want is to make the world a better place. They respect the environment, prefer healthier foods, and enjoy charitable giving. This has led to a resurgence in responsible manufacturing, healthier restaurant menus and helping underfunded charities. What’s wrong with that? The name (Gen Y), is fitting as they strive for purpose in life, welcome responsibility at their jobs, and seek to make a difference. This means they gravitate towards companies who value the same and who have a clear mission statement concerning their reason for being – never a bad thing when building a brand.

They Want To Be Loyal: They Just Want To Know Why

Millennials are actually brand loyalists. Though they’re willing to experiment with new brand introductions, they stick with products they like and take no time telling their friends. For companies who take their branding seriously, isn’t this word-of-mouth a good thing? They’re raising the bar.

Consequently, tried and true brands loved by Baby Boomers, be it in fashion or automobiles, are not necessarily the brand choice for Millennials. They have their own identity and tend to be more investigative, prudent, with less interest in the excesses found in prior generations. Does that mean they always look for discounts? Not always. Intrinsic value, being authentic as a brand, and how they experience your brand are just as important as the cost or cool factor. This includes luxury goods.

As a result, many brands are finding the need to rebrand or create new divisions better suited to reach this influential group.

This isn’t as mysterious as it seems.

Generational Period Effects

Practically speaking, every generation has its own influence on culture and commerce, which includes “period effects” such as technology, social movements, and other socioeconomic developments. I remember being an early adopter of the “brick” phone by Motorola and feeling like James Bond. How far we’ve come.

It should be no surprise, therefore, that going online these days is more attractive than waiting on line and having breaking news instantly is far better than printed news that becomes obsolete even before it’s distributed.

Omnichannel Engagement: Brick & Mortar

Surprisingly, in spite of a wired world, Millennials do like shopping in-store. They may first research products online and ask their friends about it, but then head to the store so they can touch and feel it. This is where brands need to ensure that the touchpoints for their brand are in alignment to provide the most accurate and fulfilling engagement.

“Surprisingly, many Millennials enjoy brick & mortar shopping as they seek an interconnected brand experience.”

Here’s what I’ve witnessed on the client side:

1) One group that thinks their brand is impervious to Millennials

2) Another that’s waking up to this new landscape

3) Groups that are actively planning for it

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Key Takeaways:

1) They’re Touching Every Business Sector

From fast fashion to accessing professional services, to reshaping restaurants and hotels, Millennials are impacting virtually every known business sector.

Sure, they have their quirks. They like to be hands-on, sometimes to a fault, but remember they’ve been accessing and absorbing information at a much faster pace than Baby Boomers ever did. They like to learn – including discovering how committed a company is to their products and how they impact the world around them.

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2) They’re Not All “20 Somethings”

It’s important to note that there’s a fairly wide age gap between them – let’s call it 19-36. For marketers, this means that connecting with a 20-year-old is different than connecting with an older young adult who is married with children. Don’t lump Millennials into one stereotypical group.

3) Spending Power

According to estimates, Millennials will spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017 and possibly $10 trillion in their lifetimes. In fact, they may be the largest consumer generation in history. How is this possible when they have huge college debt and living with mom as the cliche goes? Well, for starters, low overhead while they come up with the next Silicon Valley or startup phenomenon.

4) They Relish Community

It’s almost a paradox that the same technologies preventing human interaction are the same technologies that bind Millennials (and us) together – texting rather than calling…Skype rather than meeting in-person.

For marketers, this means having a compelling brand story and content worth sharing with peers and friends. Don’t sell me. Educate me on your product, and if I can have fun in the process (life is so short after all), you have my attention.

5) Don’t Throw Your Eggs In One Basket

Millennials are an emerging group as any other. One well-known restaurant chain went overboard catering to Millennials and ended up losing a loyal segment of their customer base. There’s no need to do that. Simply learn how to connect with them.

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To their credit, what the Millennial generation is teaching marketers is that they own up to rudimentary propositions such as value, quality, and service.

On the flip side, Millennials should always remember that the very technologies they enjoy today were mostly pioneered by Baby Boomers…:)

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