KEY IDEA: Economic and social/political optimism is at record lows for Millennials. In a survey, they express a strong lack of faith in traditional societal institutions, including mass media, and are pessimistic about social progress. M illennials and Gen Zs are disillusioned. They’re not particularly satisfied with their lives, their financial situations, their jobs, government and business leaders, social media, or the way their data is used.
Millennials and Gen Zs, in general, will patronize and support companies that align with their values; many say they will not hesitate to lessen or end relationships when they disagree with companies’ business practices, values, or political leanings.
Why are these young generations filled with distrustinstead of optimism? Perhaps it’s because they’reperpetually caught in the crossfire of social, political, andeconomic commotion.
Chief among the influencing factors are likely the economic recession of the late 2000s. At one end of the spectrum are older millennials who were entering the job market as the crisis unfolded. At the other end are Gen Zs, many of whom have spent half their lives in a post-crash world. Studies suggest that entering the labor market during a recession has long-term negative effects on subsequent wages and career path.
In the United States, millennials who entered the labor market around the recession, or during the years of slow growth that followed, experienced less economic growth in their first decade of work than any other generation. They have lower real incomes and fewer assets than previous generations at comparable ages, as well as higher levels of debt. The cumulative effect has altered a wide variety of financial decisions.
Marketing to Millennials requires an approach based on the communication principles of new generations and adaptive to new ways of using media and content relevance, focusing on experience while generating value.
Millennials are creating new patterns of consumption, new patterns of choice, new ways of using media, and new ways of relating to brands and advertising that we can no longer underestimate. TV-centric marketing, focused on generating awareness and brand associations for consumers to remember until the moment of purchase, cannot cope with the current level of complexity. Instead, the “Millennial Explosion” — while transforming society’s system of values through its youngest people — begs companies and marketing planning to transform in ways beyond the technological and digital. It stimulates us to think and act like Millennials, in a social and reactive way, focusing on the content, the service, and the experience, all while generating value.
According to recent research by TotalRetail, 45 percent of Millennials expect more engaging experiences with brands than with retailers. In other words, they expect brands to build relationships with them, to listen to them, and to engage with them. They want to be part of the innovative process (especially if something isn’t working for them).
Just 25% of millennials say they buy goods or services from companies even though they are aware the company has labor practices they don’t support.
Treating employees well is key for millennials. Fifty-one percent say that they would like a company more if they paid employees well and 40 percent say they would like a company more if it was known to be a place people liked to work.
Millennials like the idea of sharing profits with a good cause. It doesn’t appear to matter how much. Thirty-eight percent millennials say a company giving away a small share of their profits to a good cause would make them like the company. When asked if they gave away a significant share, that only rises to 40%.
Millennials are much less likely than their parents to care about goods being made in America. While 58% of Boomers say they’d like a company much more if their goods were made domestically, just 39% of millennials say the same.
Millennials are disillusioned by our politics while they struggle with paying off their student loans to afford the American Dream. To gain their business brands need to stand-out as well as stand for something.