Millennials – who are they?
Every Generation has its own (Nick)name that unites people sharing similar interests and are of roughly the same age. As it is difficult to define the exact year of when one generation ends and the next one starts, there is some disagreement on when the first Millennial was born. Most sources, such as Wikipedia, however agree on the start of this Generation being between the late 1970’s and early 1980’s and the end ranging from the late 1990’s and 2000’s. If you are aged between 18 and 35, you can proudly call yourself a Millennial.
What makes us different?
There are a number of names used to describe the Generation of Millennials, some of them hinting certain characteristics and behaviours (that aren’t always flattering).
Generation Smartphone, Digital Natives, Generation Technology or IGen (hinting the popularity of smart devices of a certain company called Apple) are only a few names that suggest Millennials are a generation that grew up with advanced Technology and are not afraid to use it (mostly) to their advantage. This would be the most agreed on characteristic of Millennials.
Other personality traits may vary depending on the country the Millennial lives in. In Germany (my beloved home country), my generation,according to an article published by the Guardian, Millennials are also referred to as Generation Maybe. With nearly unlimited possibilities Millennials sometimes find it hard to make final decisions and be satisfied with something because there might always be a better way of dong things. This could be Job related or the general way of life. A good and entertaining read relating to this is ‘Why generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy’ by Tim Burton.
There are numerous other characteristics that can be connected to Millennials, after all they are trying to describe a whole generation which can’t be easy.
Just a warning before I go into more detail about how Millennials use technology. If you want to find out more about Millennials and who they are and type it into Google, the top suggestions aren’t very positive.
I personally cannot count the number of times people (mostly around my parents and grandparents age) have said something along the lines ‘ You people spent all your time on your phones/laptops/tablets etc. and are not talking to each other anymore’ – and I don’t think I’m the only one to have heard this. We are surrounded by advanced communication technology and it is hard not be part of the online world these days. The question is if we are using mobile devices too much so it could acutally harm our physical and emotional health.
As a Millenial I did the obvious thing to do in finding out how much time I spent on my phone and what am I actually doing while on my mobile phone – I downloaded an app.
The App BreakFree can be downloaded for free in the Google Playstore . What the app does is it meassures your activity on your phone, how many times you unlock your phone, how much time you spent on it and what are the most used apps. It then gives you the addiction score which is divided into 3 levels. If you find yourself in the Red area the app suggests to put down your phone for a while. After thinking to myself that I’m actually not endangered of being addicted to my phone (before the app download) I was in for a surprise.
Today (5/10/2016) my addiction score is 63, which is the yellow level of addiction, so far I have unlocked my phone 58 times (which is not including the amount of times I only picked it up to check the time or if there’s any notifications on the locked screen). Total phone usage 2 hours and 8 minutes and it’s not even 9 pm yet. Most used apps are Facebook, WhatsApp, GoogleChrome and SZ.de a German newspaper app. The weekly average time I spent on my phone everyday is 2 hours and 10 minutes.
It is hard to tell if this is too much or not, it depends on who you campare yourself with. An article on digitaltrends.com found that Americans spend 4.7 hours per day on their phones. So I could pride myself in saying I’m only spending half that time on my phone. But lets be honest I knew I was monitoring my own phone usage which means under different circumstances I probably wouls exceed the 2 hours.
The important thing is that we should realise how much time we spend on mobile devices and be able to control it. Put it away when you are meeting friends and family and talk to people face to face. You can’t buy empathy and social interaction (not online) in the AppStore.
What Marketers need to know
In order to get Millennials attracted to brands, products and services etc companies have to adapt to their specific needs. Technology has given this generation a huge advantage when it comes to education about products, information regarding the company’s ethical behaviour and much more. The broad access to the global market has brought competition to the market and consumers are not afraid to switch to other producers at any time. Therefore it is very hard to win Millennials as loyal costumers or to keep them. It is not just about the products anymore Marketers need to conduct research on what Millennials buy, why they consider buying something or not and where they buy.
Research by Millenialmarketing.com shows that almost 50% of american Millennials would be more willing to purchase from a company if they’re purchase supports a cause. That shows that companies have to look at a broader picture and maintain public relations in order to market their products successfully.
Millennials are well informed about a product well before they buy it. They ask friends and research online about the product and read other people’s opinions and experiences. As a company it is important to keep up with the technology and advertise and interact with the consumers.