My final interview was with David Burstein, a regular contributor to Fast Company, and the author of “Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World.” After writing a couple of articles on “Millennials” and marketing/social media earlier in the year, I came in touch with David, who is leading the charge in the understanding and analysis of this “second baby boom.” Find David on Twitter as @davidburstein
From Wikipedia – Milliennials, or the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y, are the demographic cohort following Generation X. There are no precise dates when the generation starts and ends. Commentators use beginning birth years from the early 1980s to the early 2000s.
In 2013, Time Magazine had a feature story “The Me Me Me Generation,” espousing Millennials as “lazy Narcissists” that will “save us all.” Although this story ruffled some feathers, it painted the picture of the Millennials as a potent force to be reckoned with, and marketers must start planning today for what will effectively be the largest consumer audience ever in 5-10 years. David pointed out in our interview that this generation is already the most messaged-to generation ever, and that the same marketing approaches will not apply to this group as have to prior generations. There must not only be a shift in messaging strategies, but an overall paradigm shift in areas such as corporate responsibility and innovation.
Companies marketing to Millennials must move beyond the mentality of “how” to excite this generation with offers or campaigns, but have more of a focus on making changes and highlighting aspects of their companies’ corporate responsibility and value structure. This generation will define how brands will be defined. Brands must start making “uncomfortable” choices and taking risks that help redefine their brands to the standards that Millennials have come to expect. Businesses must start to place an emphasis on creating value in the world outside of their product, and these efforts must be made public, while not appearing disingenuous.
Simply, companies cannot survive in 5 to 10 years without a focus on innovation. Throughout the “Ten Trends” series this year, there has been a common theme – Mobile interactions are the way of the future. Whether through using social paired with location and mobile, or whether using data smarter to deeply personalize every touchpoint, it all breaks down to communicating effectively with the smartphone and tablet. This is nowhere more evident than with the Millennial generation. Moving forward, companies must create more than a cursory feedback loop for innovation, but more of a corporate environment that encourages innovation. The role of innovator must be engrained in company culture all the way to the level of the CEO.
“But we’re doing just fine right now. Why change?”
Sure, companies are thriving in the current environment, but without innovation and corporate responsibility, they will fall behind in 5-10 years in the eyes of this emerging generation. Millennials absolutely expect a higher level of deep personalization than ever before. As the most messaged-to generation ever, they have less patience for marketing messaging. Simply being on social media is not enough; you have to do something amazing to even stand out. Social presence and planning is expected, and is not likely to work wonders for Millennials, but more likely to cause disappointment if you’re NOT involved. Text messaging is absolutely a crucial component in communicating with the Millennial generation on their terms. The new expectation is that every message be personalized, segmented and customized. How are you communicating?