Time for a confession. I am a millennial, so let me apologize in advance for coming off biased. I’ll be providing insight into my generation: as people, consumers, and social users. I’m here to be the voice of my generation, or whatever.
In today’s ever-evolving, consumer-driven digital age, no more emphasis has ever been put on a generation than on Generation Y—the millennials. According to Pew Research Center, the millennial generation consists of those born after 1980, with assumed end date of the year 2000.
Who Do We Think We Are?
What exactly do millennials want? Let me start with what we don’t want—being stereotyped and lumped into one huge group. This isn’t just an empty complaint. Our generation covers 20 years, from high schoolers to thirty-somethings—from children to parents (not that you have to be a parent in your thirties, or have your life together—I probably won’t).
But there are common traits many of us seem to exhibit. We’ve grown up naturally collaborative, open-minded, and flexible—just a couple reasons why we thrive on social media.
We also realize we can be self-centered and egocentric beyond our years. And lazy. We can be lazy. Thanks, Netflix. We can admit our faults, but we also aren’t going to put up with claims that our “Me” generation will be the downfall of modern society.
(Everyone has been the “Me” generation, by the way)
As consumers, we crave diversity and authenticity. Whether it’s from globalism, or being well-traveled, or the Internet, our generation is more tolerant. We also demand instant gratification, having ease and convenience in all of our transactions. Causes are important to us, but we want them integrated into our lives, especially as consumers.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with Chipotle. Guilty, but with good reason. Chipotle covers all these bases as a business—diverse, authentic, fast-casual, and it uses local and free-range ingredients. I feel like I’m doing good when purchasing a burrito bowl.
If You Don’t Post It, Did It Really Happen?
Our generation is made up of “digital natives.” Quickly adapting to technology and social media is an integral part of our lives. And all of our attention spans are ever-shrinking. The latest numbers from by the U.S. National Library of Medicine put the average 2013 attention span at 8 seconds. Yikes. There’s a thirst for quick, visual storytelling. Even better, we want this content user-generated.
With all that being said, millennials are also looking for new platforms that aren’t inhabited by older generations—like Facebook and Twitter (hi, mom). That’s why the likes of Instagram and Snapchat are exploding.
55 million photos are uploaded to Instagram every day. We’re able to share photos and showcase creative expression at the same time. There’s also an appetite for “ephemeral” networks, where content literally vanishes seconds after being seen. Snapchat restores fun and spontaneity to social media. You aren’t worried about your public image, so it offers a genuine, unfiltered exchange with friends. Bonus: your grandma or potential employer isn’t seeing it.
So why is any of this important? Why should companies care? Why is so much research being poured into us? Millennials will be the majority breadwinners soon. And we literally have influence and information at our fingertips 24/7. It’s about time to cater to us. That starts with understanding us, and respecting us. You were dumb and 23 once too, after all.
Now, let me take a selfie: