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Posted at: May 28, 2016, 1:38 AM; last updated: May 28, 2016, 1:38 AM (IST)

Millennials for the market

A generation that thrives on technology and connects on the social network is redefining branding. Here’s the how and why of it all
Millennials for the market
Tech sets youth apart, tech brings them together

Vishal Sharma

Millennials. They are different

The current generation of teens and those before them may not realize how much they are redefining the ways in which brands have increasingly started to engage with them. Simply because we, as they categorize us, are the generation of millennials and we are different.

Different than the baby boomers and the generation X before them, different in ways we carry ourselves, consume our data and content and the places we choose (for the lucky few) to work and express ourselves through our mobile social networks and photo sharing apps.

To set the record straight, those born between 1980 and 2000 are officially the millennials and brands are out there to get your attention. Your hand held devices and your media consumption habits give it away way just too easily to them.

But why are they so important?

Research shows that they have more money to spend and engage with the brands. But here’s the catch. They spend more on experiences and less on things and this is what redefines the entire marketing approach of brands toppling it upside down.

The problem has been that marketing initiatives focus on selling more and more by showcasing [mostly online] the need for something and building aspirations around it. Tactics have been used again and again to build sales volumes and there has come a time when the message couldn’t get camouflaged successfully enough. There are more than enough ‘me too’ campaigns like the skin fairness creams that tell you subtly on how you have a choice not to feel ‘ugly’ with your natural skin tone or the cola drink that promises Bollywood mega star type superpowers. What more can brands offer? The previous generation has expectations from the government and the current one expects brands to engage with them in a meaningful reciprocity.

So, it’s about dialogue and engaging experiences rather than ‘I sell, you buy’.

What sets them apart

  • Ambitious and ready to move on
Reports show time and again that for millennials the purpose and growth at workplace is more important even more than the financial reimbursements. Deloitte’s Milleninal Survey Report 2016 say, an increasing number of people (60 per cent) across developed and developing markets are ready to move on if the company doesn’t offer them a clear career growth chart and if they feel their skills aren’t growing. Workplace is just a means to achieve their ambitions and they don’t intent to be loyal forever. On an average, two years is the max you can retain these souls.

  • Connected and confident
They are the first generation that has seen the movement from landlines to mobiles and the omnipresent World Wide Web. They are the most connected generation and consume content voraciously. Having grown up as the most sheltered generation since economic expansion in the 1990s, social media is their battleground to correct all that is wrong and evil in the world.

  • Access, not ownership
They are optimistic, street smart and believe in realism. However, lack focus with long-term goals. They are more into the moment and this reflects in their spending habits. Owning a house and a car is not a priority until they get into their mid-forties. The sharing economy and plethora of apps out there for music streaming, car sharing, video content, travel keeps them off the burden of owning things.

  • Family and marriage can wait
Most of them have delayed marriages, in their thirties, and even the parenthood decision takes the backseat. In what is seen as the dominant trend in the US, more millennails choose to stay with their parents.

  • ‘We’ and the world
The work-life balance for them is prime and their existence is not individualistic as initially thought, but it is shared experiences that excite them. They care about the world and expect brands to play larger role in societal development with focus on micro issues that impact them.

  • What is at stake for brands?
With the millennial population touching prime earning and spending years, the impact on the economy and the brands is expected to be unprecedented. According to MSLGROUP’s global research on the Future of Business Citizenship, this generation has grown with unique experiences shielded by their economic migrant parents and the technological disprution setting them apart. The digital natives, who believe in the sharing economy and want a different approach to all things life and shopping with meaningful experiences rather than things, expect marketers to do more to get their attention.

To put things into perspective, currently more than half of the world’s population is under 30 and by 2025, millennials will represent 75 per cent of the global workforce. In the next two years, baby boomers will be outpaced by this generation in the total spending power. Can the brands and marketers still choose to ignore these powerful, connected digital natives. Well, welcome to the rise of ‘DigiSapiens’!

— The writer is a digital media strategist working out of Delhi. He can be reached at @wvishal

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