If you are wondering who these Millennials are that you keep hearing about, here are two things you should know right off the bat: they are young and they are plentiful. The Millennials on the younger end of the spectrum probably don’t remember a time when their parents didn’t have cell phones, and they have likely never even seen a payphone, let alone used one. Judging by their use of the word “hipsterish,” some Millennials are too young to know that the word hipster is derived from the word hip; they might think hipster was just a word invented to describe Lena Dunham. It’s sort of funny to think this way, but actually, the Millennials as a consumer group are nothing to chuckle about. They make up a generation almost as heavily populated as the Baby Boomers. So who are these people and what do they want?
Millennials are people who are 18 to about 30 or 31 years old. One of the things they want as consumers is customization. Baby Boomers once thought having a cup of coffee meant choosing between regular, decaf or maybe even Sanka, but Millennials know that any coffee selection that doesn’t include an iced-caramel-soy-macchiato-half-caff is just plain primitive – that is, until ordering a plain cup of coffee becomes ironically cool one day. The point is, Millennials want options, and this goes for everything from frozen yogurt to shoes to cars.
Two other things that are important to Millennials are mobility and connectivity. There is a good chance that any 18-year-old high school graduate you poll won’t remember living in a home without an internet connection; they might not have had one as a toddler, but they probably don’t remember not having one. It would never occur to a 25-year-old to look in the Yellow Pages for a phone number because they’ve never used them. They have been connected and on the go for most of their lives with cell phones and iPods, and that type of connectivity and mobility just doesn’t jive with a bulky book of phone numbers or a bookshelf full of encyclopedias. If you want to engage Millennials, one of the best places to do it is online.
Pinning down the collective traits of an entire generation is far from an exact science, and not every single Millennial in the world will have the same tastes and preferences in consumer products. But they will, more than any generation before them, require customization, mobility and connectivity to get and keep their business.