As a President and Founder of a small boutique digital marketing firm, my first advice I give to clients is that you should “own the casinos, not play in them”. Although this mantra holds true for most businesses and generations (X and baby boomers), my millennial counterparts do not subscribe to the same philosophy. So much so, it is having a dramatic effect on how we run our businesses, market our products and how we lead our everyday lives.
Although I am hardly an expert on millennial subject matter, here is how I interpret their evolutionary mentality towards work and life. At first blush, people believe Generation Y to have a lazy and entitled mindset. However, evidence provides a very opposite version. Millennials make up 23% of all millionaires in the United States. This ever growing group just so happens to think differently, as they successfully market and gain share with other individuals congruent in their thinking.
So here is my initial assessment of the “Hoodie” wearing Gen Y crowd:
- They believe in the “Gig” lifestyle or sharing economy, not full capitalism, but content curation at its finest.
- They believe in having a “social contract”. It’s not all about making money but contributing to society to promote social conscious, awareness and agenda.
- They love Uber. Millennials would rather pay only for what they use than to depend on the necessity of having to own a car and its responsibility.
- Reputation is extremely important, and although as a generation they may seem socially open, millennials are very private/strategic about their data and what people think or know about them.
Business owners must take heed to these points as Generation Y will make up for 80% of the workforce in 10 years as the baby boomer generation rides off into the sunset. Therefore, Human Resource policies, work/life balance and even compensation plans will be affected as companies will compete for the best talent. For instance, it appears that Gen Y is simply not interested in lifetime employment and the standard company barbeque. They are more interested in a 1099 arrangement that pays them well, as they will perform their best at the position or task at hand accordingly. Although variable compensation is ok, the Gen Y’ers are savvy and do not respond well to dangling long-term carrots. They are not there for the long-haul and that’s ok. If you take care of them, stimulate their career, pay them well and not try to take advantage of them, most will stay around long enough to offer the insight boosting business to the next level. However, security is not their motivating factor like previous generations. They are okay with making $100k one year and zero the next- just as long as it’s on their terms.
From a marketing standpoint, it’s technology facilitating the “Uberization” of our economy. Businesses that understand this concept will be led to success and prosperity. Trying to market “ownership” to a millennial has a good chance of falling on deaf ears. ( With the “Gig” economy, common sharing is its own marketplace; while companies like Uber and Air BnB allow individuals an avenue to pay for only what they use, no more and no less.)
They may even invest in a premium for items, as they regularly shop Whole Foods and Trader Joes which afford products not price centric but organic, and promote cleaner eating and what’s better for the economy. McDonalds owned 90% of Chipotle at one point and they jumped ship because their executive believed it didn’t “fit their model”. At this point, Chipotle has lines outside the door and McDonald’s stock is at an all-time low. The shift is real and not going away anytime soon. From an employer standpoint, I recommend looking into the following 3 aspects when hiring a millennial:
- See what type of employment arrangement they are interested in: 1099 or W2 “regular employment”. Do they simply want to be a “consultant” or hired gun?
- Be very clear on roles and responsibilities, but open to how they get there: flexible hours, work from home or even install a meditation room in the office.
- Ask them what they think, not just to ask, but to really understand their process as they have no shortage of great ideas.
As for marketers, you should already have your millennial plan in place. Demographics should be digital and no nonsense. They will be loyal to your product and/or brand if it fits into their belief system. Further, it will also need to fit into their technological echo-system. Don’t have an app for your business? Get one! Eventually, the internet will be passé and they will be app driven to get what they need. Moreover than an app, target millennials if it fits their purpose. If you are selling vehicles that are not eco-friendly, than develop a product that is so millennials can research and patronize. Don’t spend the money trying to convince them to like your product if it doesn’t fit their values, they are not a stupid generation and will reward you for paying attention to their request. Get on the millennial bus now, or risk missing out on the next gold rush as “uberization” of the new economy is real and here to stay.
Thomas F. La Vecchia, MBA
Founder/President, X Factor Media