There is a lot of talk about the millennial generation and their love of technology. Their obsession with computers and smartphones, and their lack of interest in magazines and actual phone conversations. There are plenty of people who believe these things are bad and that this generation has lost its way. And yet, they are our future.
The millennials have grown up knowing nothing less than innovative technology. As a result, it’s what they know and love. They post pictures of everything they do everyday and yet they won’t pick up a phone to tell you hi – they will send a text though. They have thousands of followers on their social media sites, all of whom they consider to be friends to some degree. I don’t know about you, but I can’t possibly imagine having thousands of friends. I do have plenty of followers online, but they definitely aren’t all friends.
One of the most entertaining conversations you can have is listening to an older person tell you how the younger generation is failing. These people refuse to embrace the change that surrounds them. They focus on the negative aspects and ignore the benefits and promising future that awaits.
You want to hear the scary thing, a lot of these people chastising the millennials are the baby-boomers. The baby-boomers that set the world on its head years ago. The generation known for Woodstock and peace, love, and freedom. The generation that overtook the workplace and created innovative and efficient new technology. So if you’re a baby boomer, look in the rear-view mirror and then look ahead. Tell me there aren’t some similarities here.
But what does this have to do with marketing and social media? Well, let’s take a quick look back at how the marketing and advertising world changed for the baby-boomers. Remember when advertising was targeted towards men because they were the ones that made the money and spent the household budget? Remember when marketing techniques focused on younger women because they were more attractive? Did you ever see an over abundance of anti-aging cream and ED medication ads when you watched TV?
You see, marketing and advertising has had to change to embrace the largest demographic of shoppers. As women became independent providers and started making household purchases, marketers targeted their ads towards strong moms. As the boomers aged, movies cast more women over the age of 40 in order to keep the money flowing into their theaters. Advertising is always focusing on how to capitalize on the boomers and their source of expenditures.
Well, no offense to you boomers, but you’re being replaced. I’m not saying advertising shouldn’t still target this demographic, but it’s time to start thinking about the future. The millennial generation (those born from 1982 through 2004 – or similar range depending on your source) is the largest generation of all time. They are larger and more influential than the boomer generation ever was.
So why are companies ignoring them? Why are companies refusing to embrace the technology that they love? Why are companies complaining about this new generation? Why are companies refusing to invest in their own success for the future?
Here’s my promise: If you ignore the millennials and the tools that they use, your company WILL fail.
Seriously, though. It’s really that simple. The boomers will be gone soon. Most of them are already heading towards (if not already in) retirement and on fixed incomes. Their pocket strings aren’t nearly as loose as they used to be and they are not the bread and butter of the business world anymore.
True, the millennials are still young and don’t have a lot of money to spend. But guess what, they aren’t far away. They are coming up in the ranks at their offices and getting raises and starting families. They are spending money.
But do you know where they’re spending their money? If not, you had better start finding out. I’ll give you a hint – they’re on their computers and their smartphones all day, every day. They don’t use the Yellow Pages to find a local business. They Google it, find the website, and click “Buy”. Then it delivers to their home a few days later. This is reality.
Is it scary? Sure it is. Change often is. But it’s so exciting and has so much potential. Marketing budgets need to be redirected towards the proper tools to reach this demographic. Social media is not the ugly step child anymore. It’s the heir apparent and it’s about time you got on board.