The Inescapability of the Word ‘Millennial’

millennialsThis blog was written by our intern, Kamilla Rahman.

If you’ve ever surfed the web for more than 10 minutes, you’ve definitely come across the word millennial at least five times. People are constantly talking about millennials, what they’re doing, what they want, what they will be doing, how they react and how to resonate with them. Even the KG team has been known to write about millennials on behalf of our clients from time to time – here is a recent example.

According to Investopedia, “a millennial is the given name to the generation born between 1982 and 2004…this generation is often associated with technology and social media.” In the last couple of years, there has been a more specific consensus. A millennial is basically someone in their 20’s or 30’s.

The world is infatuated with millennials, and as a millennial, I honestly don’t get it. I was flipping through a few articles the other day and almost every article referenced the millennial generation. I do understand millennials are important, especially when regarding technology and retail. We’re a different generation, we’re nontraditional, we’re viewed as more independent, we have different expectations and we are more technologically advanced than our parents and grandparents with a tremendous amount of buying power.

But why the obsession?

Some of the headlines read:

Though all of these articles are extremely insightful, as a millennial, I don’t understand why all of these brands and companies are constantly trying to appeal to us. The word is everywhere. It’s basically inescapable and everyone seems to think that appealing to a millennial is the magic key to all things holy and great.

My brother and I are both millennials. He was born in 1985 and I was born in 1995. Throughout most of our lives, our purchasing habits, interests and even technological awareness have been different. Though they are closer today than they have ever been, they’re still completely different.

He’s 31, he goes to work, has meetings all day, buys suits and dress pants, goes to CrossFit, has nice dinners with his beloved girlfriend, just bought a house, gets a beer with his buds, checks his iPad for emails, pretty much knows what he’s doing with his life and occasionally has a late night out. I, on the other hand, am 21. I’m about to start my senior year of college, I intern, I’m an avid online shopper, I go out with my friends almost every weekend, I study, am always on the move and suffer withdrawal symptoms when I don’t have my phone for more than 45 minutes.

The only things we really have in common are that we stay busy and know technology. I may be wrong here, but that just doesn’t seem like the proper way to target consumers, especially in retail. The word millennial is too broad. It encompasses people that are in completely different stages of their lives. To me, focusing efforts around millennials is just an over-followed trend.

Don’t get me wrong; appealing to millennials has definitely shifted the way marketers appeal to consumers. It has become intuitive, personal and brands have figured out how to market in a way that is additive to peoples’ lives. But if you think about it, don’t generations older and younger want that as well?

In retail and technology, a new goal is personalization; so my question is why do these industries continue to obsess over a market that appears to be so diverse and vague?

The Power of One Generation

“They” say millennials are changing retail. Being one, I can say I agree with this statement. We’ve all seen the articles and research reports that talk to the impact that the millennial generation has had on the retail industry, but for me it’s a reality that I live and breathe everyday.

This past weekend I treated my sister to a shopping spree, as part of her Christmas gift. (I know, a little late, but better late than never!) It’s been widely reported that millennials are extremely brand loyal, and I, unknowingly practiced that this weekend. My sister and I went to Barton Creek Square Mall in Austin, Texas, and we only visited stores that we have had previous positive experiences with, including White House Black Market, Gap and Nordstrom. We didn’t even take the time of day to pop into the other stores. I would rather spend a little more on an item knowing I’ll have a more enjoyable shopping experience in that store, rather than spending time at their lower cost counterpart.

An article last spring in Bloomberg broke down how millennials are spending – stating they are more frugal and careful about what they buy. Through my personal experiences I find this true, not just for me, but for my friends. Leading into the shopping spree last weekend, I told my sister what our budget was, of course factoring a $50 buffer because I know our shopping habits. I planned for the months leading up to not have a weekend of triple digit spending make me have a financially-fueled emotional break down. I researched the stores I thought we should check out and sent my sister links to outfits and stores that were reasonably priced.

Another attribute about millennials, and something that is very near and dear to my heart, is that we prefer paying for experiences, not products. Honestly, I’d rather have airline miles or rewards that turn into miles rather than a new pair of shoes. Okay, I’d still like the shoes, but I’d give up other parts of my spending habits to go on a trip. But if my spending can lead to those experiences, then even better! Millennials are now even being coined the “Burning Man Generation,” due to their spending on experiences instead of things. Millennials are living proof of the old saying “you can’t take it with you.”

Retail is shifting and millennials are spearheading this movement. It’s scary but empowering to know my generation is playing a huge part in changing the retail scene. Knowing that we have this power, how will the next generation – know as Generation Z or Boomlets – change it even more?

State of the Millennial Union

Reposted from Digby’s Mobile Retail Blog

At the risk of being considered a traitor by my fellow Generation X’ers, I am not ashamed to admit that I have a fascination with the Millennial Generation.  In a recent blog, I bragged about how this group of young men and women born roughly between 1980 and 2000 have completely changed the way we live, shop and communicate. I work with Millennials, and I have learned as much (if not more) from them as they have learned from me.

So much has been written about this “tribe” of techno-savvy, confident, determined and goal-oriented young adults – it almost seems as though Millennials have that magical Midas touch – especially when it comes to their significant contributions to the success of mobile and social media technologies.  Check out these recent stats:

Which brings me to my next point – while doing research for this blog, another trend that I noticed within the Millennial generation is that they seem to be growing up, and maturing. In a recent Forbes article by Barry Salzberg, global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limite says, “…many millennials are not driven by money or success in quite the way their parents were. This generation wants to know what your organization stands for in improving society, what it stands for in action, as opposed to blowing smoke. Millennials want to know how they will make a positive difference in the world if they join your business, not by wearing a colorful T-shirt on a special project once a year but in their actual work.” 

In the recent presidential election, the Millennial Generation made its mark yet again. According to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), 23 million, or 50% of, young people voted in this election. According to The Hill, “This rate of turnout can now be considered ‘the new normal’ for young Americans. This is the third presidential election in a row with turnout around 50%.” Bottom line – Millennials want their voices heard.

Millennials are eating out less, perhaps a trend to live healthier lifestyles and save their hard-earned dollars for exciting trips to Europe or down payments for modest homes and cars.

Whatever your opinion of Milliennials, you can’t deny this group of savvy individuals are a force to be reckoned with.  What do you think will be the hottest millennial trends in 2013?

Catherine Seeds is the Vide President of Ketner Group, a PR and marketing communications agency headquartered in Austin, TX.

Photo Credit: Study Breaks College Media

Millennials and the Workforce

PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images
By Sara Lasseter

Photo: PhotoAlto/Sigrid Olsson/Getty Images

For the last decade, Americans everywhere have been concerned about the high unemployment rates sweeping the nation. But who is it that’s out of a job? Unemployment has hit every age group, social class and industry, but Generation Y (those born roughly between 1980 and 2000) has seen the most trouble. While this group of 80 million recent grads and young professionals have one of the highest levels of education, entering the workforce as a Millennial is proving more difficult for this generation than any other before it. Gen Y has a staggering 12.1% unemployment rate, and the lucky few with jobs are experiencing lower average salaries that are decreasing at a higher rate than other age groups and skyrocketing college debt that is higher than it has ever been.

As part of Gen Y myself, I’m experiencing first-hand the challenge facing most Millennials in this economy. While I’m fortunate enough to hold a great internship position with KG, I’m entering my senior year at UT with determined resolve to find a job upon graduation. It’s the Holy Grail for college grads these days, so we can use all the help we can get.

A great feature on Forbes lists some helpful ways that Millennials can stay sane and keep their skills polished while waiting on one of 100 companies you’ve applied at to offer you a position. Here are a few of the best tips!

  • Keep working and volunteer – Contributing to side projects and small startups can keep your skill set in practice while also filling in that jobless gap on your resume. Volunteering in the community is fulfilling and adds another dimension to your on-paper personality that employers will notice. Continue reading