Making Your Mark With The “Millennials”

May 28


Bill Willard

Bill Willard

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Generation Y--The second-largest crop of young people in America's history, offspring of the Boomers—80 million of them, nearly 27 percent of the U.S. population—are in their late teens and 20s, and already a market force to be reckoned with.


The Millennials are here big time! “They’re demanding their own music,Making Your Mark With The “Millennials” Articles defining their own trends and starting to matter to advertisers, to retailers, to politicians,” chirped a recent Chicago Tribune editorial. What’s more, they are (or soon will be) buying cars and homes, getting married, starting families--and are going to matter very much to American business.

Neo-traditionalist in many ways, the Millennials are not cynical about marriage and having families. These young people value such intangibles as personal fulfillment, family well-being, freedom, security—lives on track. As a result, count on the Millennials to step up to the issues and needs most of us have no matter which generational cohort, market segment, or stage of life we're in. “They don't want to make the mistakes of either Generation X or the Boomers, to wait until the panic stage to have babies,” writes columnist, Suzanne Fields.

A High Dose of Reality

But no matter how great their marketing potential, Millennials with ground-floor incomes may be struggling to negotiate rent and other living expenses on top of college loans that the Christian Science Monitor estimates average $17,000. Or they may still be living with Mom and Dad!

So all is not a bed of roses, and even the most astute members of this (or any) generation will find the choices marketers ask them to make confusing. Or (worse) they may think they know it all or imagine they can get everything they need online, and don’t need help.

With so much at stake, indecision, inaction or mistakes born of misplaced self-confidence (“It can’t happen to me”) can be expensive--especially in periods of economic uncertainty. Yet this generation, which has known nothing but prosperity, is not used to doing without. Handed the choice of paying health insurance premiums or maintaining their savings and other financial security plans--and forgoing their cell phones or hanging up their social lives, many of these young people make the wrong call.

Setting priorities can be critical and shouldn’t be ignored no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, That’s one reason why realistic expectations should be communicated to consumers in this or any other age group. A difficult pill to swallow, but exactly the advice young families in that difficult position should hear.

How to Reach The Millennials

Generation Y is generally more comfortable using the Internet as a research tool to aid in making saving and investment decisions, rather than as a means for on-line banking or trading. “To effectively reach the youngest generation of adult Americans, whose lives are being shaped by digital media, marketers must deliver smarter, more sophisticated messages and build brands with them rather than for them,” a study by advertising firm, Saatchi

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