Biggest study yet of Millennials

An unprecedented study of Millennial attitudes and behaviors provides a lot to chew on for businesses that market to this most powerful and growing consumer demographic.

The seemingly incongruous conclusion of the study is that those under 30 in countries around the world acknowledge that they face significant economic challenges, yet overwhelmingly report being very happy.

This study, commissioned by Viacom and Viacom International Media Networks, looked at the attitudes, values, aspirations and perspectives of people aged nine to 30 in 24 countries, including the United States, Canada, China, Japan, India, Australia, numerous European countries and others. It included 15,000 interviews. According to the authors, the study is the broadest undertaking of its type to date.

Not surprisingly, the economy is the top issue facing Millennials today. A large majority of respondents said they felt personally affected by the global economic crisis — 68% overall, with numbers much higher in countries that are suffering the most from the economic calamity, including Spain (86%), Italy (85%) and Greece (80%).

Even so, the vast majority say they have a strong sense of happiness and optimism. More than three-quarters say they are “very happy,” with the highest levels of happiness occurring in Latin America.

Again, not surprisingly, job security is a concern. About half of young people believe job security will get worse in the future and 78% say they would rather have a minimum wage job than no job.

The study reinforces several understandings about the Millennial character. Where previous generations have often exhibited conflict with their parents’ generation, the key driver of happiness for Millennials today is spending time with their family. Friendships are another key to happiness, both real time and online.

Electronic connectedness is important to Millennials, with 73% saying the Internet changes the way they think about the world. Notably, however, the perspective of this generation toward technology may surprise the older generation. According to the study, the Millennial attitude is, “Technology doesn’t make me who I am. It lets me be who I am.”

“Among the characteristics that may seem incongruous to outsiders, Millennials are at once as proud as any generation of belonging to their particular nationality, yet tolerant and welcoming of others living in their home country,” says Eyal Lichtmann, CEO of CampusAuction and an expert in helping non-profits and businesses connect with the Millennial generation. “Fully 93% say that it is their responsibility to treat all people with respect regardless of race, gender, religion, political views or sexual orientation.”

Lichtmann has written and spoken widely about the Millennials’ inherent altruism.

All of the data comes together to depict a generation that — by a margin of 87% — declares itself curious about the world.

The connectedness that defines Millennials is creating dramatic implications for policy-makers and for anyone who deals with Millennials, including businesses that need to reach this $400 billion market today and to build loyalty for the future.

Effectively reaching this demographic requires businesses to recognize the realities of what motivates the 80 million members of the under-30 demographic in North America.

CampusAuction has brought together the foremost expertise and information about Millennials, channeling it to create an unparalleled platform to connect socially conscious Millennial consumers with businesses that demonstrate concern for social good.

If your business needs help connecting with this crucial demographic, contact Eyal Lichtmann at partnerships@CampusAuction.com.

 

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Election’s message for businesses

Businesses that market to Millennials have particular reason to look closely at the results of the just-finished U.S. presidential election.

About 23 million Americans under the age of 30 voted last Tuesday — representing about half of the eligible voters in that age group. While half chose not to vote, 49% is a triumph, by the standards of recent elections. Among all voters, those under 30 represented 19% of the electorate, compared with 18% in 2008. While statistics are not completely in yet, it appears that the number of voters under 30 equalled or exceeded those over 65. This is astounding. Voters over 65 have the reputation as the most deeply devoted voters and have played a crucial role in determining the policies and the course of campaigns for many cycles. It appears that young voters may soon be as politically powerful as their grandparents.

This is notable for a couple of reasons. While seniors are known to vote in large numbers, the youngest voters have been known to vote in the smallest proportions. In 2008, an election that was deemed historic by most observers, the youth vote spiked, based on the perceived uniqueness of that year’s potential for historic change. Almost every commentator leading up to the 2012 election predicted that young voters would return to their previous levels of apathy now that excitement over an African-American president has been diminished by the realities of day-to-day governing in a time of economic crisis.

Instead, young voters demonstrated a willingness to wait in lines sometimes hours long to cast their ballots in numbers as impressive as those of their elders.

One of the explanations (among many) is… wait for it… Facebook.

A study still being compiled promises to be one of the most massive social experiments ever undertaken. Facebook randomly assigned different users with reminders and newsfeed articles about the election, while others did not receive the special treatment. Those behind the experiment hope to determine the impact that this sort of social media inducement had on voting patterns.

Even leaving aside the deliberate efforts represented by this experiment, commentators suspect that social media played an important role in the impressive under-30 voter turnout, in part for the simple reason that it was the topic of the day. Anybody logging into Facebook or checking Twitter feeds on Tuesday was bombarded with opinions and news around the election. There are a lot of characteristics that define young people, including being integrated online, and among those characteristics is the need to feel a part of something big. While a decade ago someone may have been able to move through election day with only a vague awareness of the important event taking place, anyone on Facebook could not ignore the overwhelming obsession among their friends about the outcome of the presidential and down ballot races. Voting was something, it appeared, everyone was doing – and Millennials do not like to be left out of things.

The ultimate meaning of the sustained and impressive youth vote from 2008 two 2012 will be analyzed for years to come. It may be safe, though, to hazard the guess that young people are more engaged than almost ever before in the electoral system. Social media plays a role, certainly, as do the legitimate fears and concerns for their future in terms of micro-economic issues like student loan debt and macroeconomic issues like the kind of economy today’s college students will graduate into. In the shortest synopsis, this election tells us one crucial thing about young voters: they care.

We have often noted in this blog that young people are often just as likely to vote with their wallets as they are to vote in an actual election, based on the belief that corporations have as much power as government does in their impact on ordinary lives. We are prepared — happily — to amend this assertion. Young people are likely to vote with their wallets, supporting businesses that support the same things they do — and they are increasingly likely to vote in elections, too.

This sends a message to candidates running for public office: take young voters for granted at your own peril.

For businesses, it sends a powerfully reinforced message that we have been sending all along: young people care about the future of their world. Businesses, just like elected officials, need to recognize this basic fact in order to succeed.

If your business needs help connecting with young people, there is a turnkey platform that makes the connection easy. Contact Eyal Lichtmann at partnerships@CampusAuction.com.

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Altruism drives Millennials

Doing good can help the world – and the bottom line

Businesses that successfully market to Millennials — the 18 to 30 year old demographic that is redefining everything — can get an important insight from a new study.

Even more than other generations, this cohort is motivated by doing good. An interesting study shows that Millennials get involved in membership-based organizations, like museums, art galleries and other civic institutions, for reasons that are fundamentally different than the motivators of their elders.

Those over 35 and under 35 both cited free admission as the top draw for membership in these sorts of civic organizations. However, the next four items on the top five differed substantially. For those over 35, all of the top five items were what could be considered self-interest motivators, specifically: priority access, members-only functions, advanced notice of upcoming activities, and member discounts. For those under 35, after the top priority of free admission, the next four motivators were all generally altruistic, specifically: belonging to the organization, supporting the organization, supporting the cause, and making a positive impact.

“The study is significant for nonprofits, which need to motivate the current generation in order to sustain their operations in the decades to come,” says Eyal Lichtmann, CEO of CampusAuction, and an expert in connecting businesses and nonprofits with the Millennial generation. “It is also significant, though, for businesses because it demonstrates the altruistic motivations that drive the activities of the Millennial generation.”

For younger people, a sense of belonging is important. Supporting good causes — and being seen to support good causes — are likewise important. Making a positive impact on the world is absolutely crucial as a defining feature of this generation.

What this means for businesses is that connecting with this crucial cadre of consumers requires more than just a good product at a good price. This generation votes with their wallets to support businesses that share their worldview. The study of Millennial involvement in nonprofits can give a very clear indicator of how businesses can demonstrate shared values with consumers.

By demonstrating dedication to causes and institutions that may not be obviously related to the business’ bottom line can be an important link between business and consumer. In this seemingly roundabout way, involvement in good causes that are not directly related to the bottom line can ultimately help the bottom line — and the world.

It is, in some ways, a whole new manner of looking at business. It’s a brave new world and some businesses could use a hand navigating the new terrain.

If your business could use some assistance in connecting with the Millennial generation through initiatives that promote social good, contact Eyal Lichtmann at partnerships@CampusAuction.com.

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Now the good news …

Businesses that market to Millennials — the 18 to 30 year old demographic that controls $400 billion in annual spending — can celebrate some good news.

Actually, the news is good for Millennials themselves. Despite perceptions that this generation is in a far worse financial situation than their parents were at the same age – a logical conclusion based on the economic downturn we are still scrambling out of – statistics tell a somewhat different story.

BMO Economics compared the current generation with their parents’ generation in terms of spending power, income and other financial measures. The surprising outcome is that this generation is doing pretty well.

Real disposable income for young families is about one-third higher in 2011 than it was in 1984, a fact that is probably due to higher individual earnings and more double income households. While the current generation is still struggling with the aftermath of the financial crisis that began in 2008, their parents’ generation suffered from massive inflation and ruinous interest rates. That means that today’s young families have more buying power than their parents did 30 years earlier. Interest rates, at historic lows today, mean that mortgage payments take less income now than a generation ago.

The news is not all good. (Of course, the good news is that the news is not all bad.)

Finding work today is more difficult than it was 30 years ago – but only marginally so.

Real income growth in both periods has not been very good and, more worryingly, young households today suffer from almost twice as much debt (compared to income) as the average young family 30 years ago.

Despite the advent of technology, which futuristic fictions from our childhood suggested would give us ample free time, leisure hours today are more scarce than three decades ago.

All in all, though, today’s young adults have more wealth, lower housing costs, higher earnings and living standards, and more overall consumer power.

This is a welcome bit of largely good news for a generation that has the reputation of coming of age in a difficult time. It suggests that Millennials are well on their way to assuming the role as the most powerful consumer demographic in history. These 80 million young consumers spend $400 billion a year already — and they have not yet reached their prime earning and spending years.

For businesses, the message should be clear. Reaching Millennials and developing brand loyalty is crucial for future success as this generation matures. The flip side of this equation is that there has never been a generation less susceptible to conventional advertising and marketing.

CampusAuction: Bid for a Better World has developed one of the world’s leading Millennial marketing strategies and platforms. If you need to reach the Millennial consumer, you need CampusAuction.

Contact Eyal Lichtmann at partnerships@CampusAuction.com.

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The Macy’s Model: Social Good and Cutting-Edge Goods

The venerable department store Macy’s has recognized the crucial necessity of marketing to Millennials. The chain has recently unveiled 13 new brand and extended 10 other brands in an effort to reach the 30-and-under demographic. 

The department store makeover has attracted the attention of business writers. For those not insignificant numbers of marketing professionals who have been recognizing and warning about the current and impending power Generation Y, the news of Macy’s brand revamp does not raise the question “why?” but “why did it take so long?”

Macy’s deserves credit for recognizing the extraordinary power of the 18 to 30 year old consumer group, both now and in the future. However, they do not get extra credit for crystal ball-gazing. This consumer demographic already controls $400 billion a year and is poised to become the most powerful spending group in human history within a few short years.

What Macy’s has concluded is what every business must confront and acknowledge: Business success today and in the future depends on appealing to today’s Millennials.

In some ways, there is nothing new in this. In other ways, everything has changed. Smart businesses have always had to accommodate changing tastes, generally exemplified by new, younger generations. What has changed now is the nature of the new generation.

Today’s young generation differs from all previous consumer demographics in significant ways. An important factor in this difference is technology. It is not merely the fact that technology has made it possible and simple to compare prices and product attributes; young consumers are making demands of corporate citizens on the lines that no generation has made before. Changing relationships between citizen and government, and between business and customer, have altered the expectation of customers. It is no longer exclusively about product quality and price. These remain very important, but an added and very significant component of moral responsibility has been added to the expectation mix.

The current generation equates the power of business almost equally with the power of government to make positive change in the world. Therefore, consumers are more likely to vote with their wallets, confident that their purchasing choices will influence the greater world, not merely their wardrobe or living quarters.

Macy’s has recognized the importance of the Millennial generation through a five-point action plan for sustainability, among other corporate social responsibility undertakings. These may appeal to customers of every age, but they have a particular resonance for young people. Their latest foray into the Millennial demographic focuses more on style than political substance, initiating clothing lines that are influenced by tattoos and other fashions that will change on a monthly basis, seemingly acknowledging that this generation’s notoriously short attention span extends to fashion as much as to entertainment. All considered, though, Macy’s is striking the balance that all businesses need to face: young consumers demand great products, great prices and will patronize businesses that are committed to the same things they care about. It’s a tall order for any business. It is, nevertheless, the new reality.

If your business needs help navigating the crucial balance between the parallel demands of excellent products and service as well as proving to young consumers that you are as committed as they are to social good, there is one venue that provides a turnkey entry way to success.

Contact Eyal Lichtmann at partnerships@CampusAuction.com for more information. 

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Doing good – and getting seen

An increasing number of businesses are offering services to clean up personal or corporate reputations online, such as negative comments about business practices or individual credit rating histories. Businesses that market to Millennials have to worry about how they appear online, just like everyone else. Yet there is an additional issue that is especially relevant to companies that are trying to reach the 18 to 30 year old demographic: their “community footprint.”

The thing about social media, which has permeated into the Millennial demographic even more deeply than it has saturated other age cohorts, is that it provides instantaneous, potentially viral sharing of information about individuals and businesses. This is a double-edged sword. Just as a positive comments about business practices can spread like wildfire, so can a negative comment.

Well, this is not entirely true. While there are plenty of examples of negativity spreading across the Facebook and Twitter universe, the fact is that young people exhibit a positivity online that is refreshing and encouraging. Think of it this way: if you have a bad experience at a restaurant, and choose to dis the service or the food, your friends are likely to be the only ones who see it. If, on the other hand, you have a positive experience and share that with your Facebook friends or Twitter followers, it stands to reason that, depending on the enthusiasm of your endorsement, some of those friends may be motivated to “like” the restaurant as a show of support. The inverse is possible. Think of the Chick-fil-A boycott (and buycott) campaign of the past summer. However, this was exceptional. Negativity spreads more slowly online than goodwill. In the vast majority of cases, there is simply no motivation for large numbers of people to spread negativity. On the flip side, sharing a good experience at a restaurant or some other type of business plays into a characteristic that is especially typical of young consumers: demonstrating influence among peers by endorsing a trend, cause, product or idea.

As a contributor to Forbes magazine noted this week, the impact of positive online publicity can be vast.

Millennials make decisions to purchase products and even, as this article and supporting studies indicate, make life-altering career decisions, based on perceptions of a business’s community footprint.

A paper by professors at Stanford and the University of California, Santa Barbara, weighed attributes considered during a job search by MBA candidates at European and North American business schools and determined that “90% of the MBAs in the samples were willing to forgo financial benefits in order to work for an organization with a better reputation for corporate and social responsibility and ethics.”

Ninety percent! And these are MBA candidates, not arts and humanities majors.

This information is staggering. It indicates the absolutely vital necessity businesses have in employing corporate social responsibility to attract young people as customers and employees.

For better and for worse, the contemporary online environment allows individuals to learn instantly about the level of corporate citizenship demonstrated by any business. Doing good is crucial. Being seen to do good is no less vital.

There is one online venue that allows businesses to do good and to be seen to do good among the 80 million Millennial consumers in North America. For more information about helping your business deliver more social impact — and to make that impact resonate among 18 to 30 year old consumers —contact Eyal Lichtmann at partnerships@CampusAuction.com

 

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The Millennial Doctrine

A simple truism explains much about the mysterious 20something

Those who market to Millennials — the 20something generation also known as Generation Y — have been fretting that this increasingly important demographic is not jumping on the consumer bandwagon like previous generations when it comes to big purchases like cars and houses.

Last week, we looked at a new report on car-purchasing intentions, which indicates that Millennials are increasingly looking to purchase vehicles. While the numbers may still be lower than their age cohort in previous decades, it is up from just five years ago.

So it is with a sense of déjà vu that we review another recent report on home purchasing and the associated hand-wringing that it has evoked.

While home purchasing has increased this year, after a disastrous period associated with the 2008 economic collapse, people in their 20s have generally not been participating in the spike. The number of young people obtaining a first mortgage declined about 50% over the past decade. Some analysts are freaking out and offering all sorts of explanations, some reasonable some more far-fetched.

One commentator speculates that Baby Boomer parents are having their own economic challenges, including saving for retirement, and therefore cannot help their Millennial kids buy their first home. Another theory is that young people are getting everything they need and more through the amenities available in apartment complexes with swimming pools, gyms and extra space when needed. The most elaborate theory is that there is a fundamental shift in human values. The idea is that young people represent a generation that is afraid of commitment and wants the freedom that renting offers.

More likely, having seen the almost unthinkable happen when property values plummeted over the past five years, Millennials may be the first generation in memory to look askance at the idea that investing in real estate is a guaranteed bet.

Over several blog posts now, we have made a simple case that should now be entrenched as a doctrine. Millennials are different, yes. But Millennials are not the entirely new species of Homo sapiens that some commentators are making out. It will take years to prove, but you heard it here first: Millennials will do everything that previous generations have done — move out of their parents basements, buy cars, get married (or at least shack up), have kids, develop careers, save for retirement, and redefine old age. They will just begin each of these steps at a later age than previous generations have done.

While property developers are rushing to meet the demand for apartments, in the short-sighted belief that Millennials will spend the next 50 or 70 years of their lives in multifamily complexes, it is a safe bet that, as soon as the first kid comes along, the new parents will go rushing out for bigger cars and homes with fenced backyards.

Understanding Millennials can be difficult, but it is not rocket science. If reaching Millennials is important to your business, contact Eyal Lichtmann, CampusAuction, who understand this demographic at partnerships@campusauction.com.

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Finally … Millennials buy cars

Those who market to Millennials, particularly those in the automotive and related industries, will be heaving a sigh of relief at some recent news.

As we discussed in a recent blog post, it seems young consumers are not investing in automobiles. We use “investing” in both senses of the word — putting out cash to buy a car, as well as the concept (prevalent since the 1950s at the latest) of wrapping our self-image up in a flashy automobile.

Appealing to the crucial demographic of 18 to 30 year olds, who will soon be the most powerful consumer group in history, has been an enduring challenge for automakers. Young people are just not buying cars like young people once did. Many of them are not even getting drivers licenses. However, it appears that (as we speculated) this is not a permanent shift away from the North American drive to drive, but instead probably another indication that young people are just postponing life events like moving out, marriage, parenting and car-buying.

A study released recently shows that of Americans who intend to purchase cars in the coming 12 months, almost one in four – 24% – are under the age of 30.

This is a significant spike from four years ago when only 16% of those intending to buy a car in the next year were in this age category. The numbers will come as a thrill to car companies, who have feared this cohort was never going to make the move to buy their own vehicles.

To understand what is driving these consumers, the study analyzes the criteria these drivers (or potential drivers) use to make their automotive purchasing decisions. 

Comfort and handling are lesser concerns for younger drivers than for their elders. And while economical gas mileage is important for everyone, it is slightly less so for younger drivers. Even so, they are more interested in smaller cars.

The idea that young consumers are not concerned about the status aspect of their vehicle is belied by the study as well. While dependability was the number one consideration among Millennial consumers intending to purchase a car, pride of ownership was the number two consideration.

The starkest difference between Millennials and older generations is their need for “excitement.” Finding a car that is “exciting” ranked seventh among criteria mentioned by Millennials, 13th for Gen Xers, and 21st in the list of criteria for Baby Boomers and those who are older. (The oldsters, it seems, find their thrills somewhere else than behind the wheel.)

This study may be the first indicator that proves the theory we plugged recently: that Millennials are not opting out of the accoutrements of adulthood, but merely delaying them.

Compared with the same age cohort from four years ago, intention to purchase a new car has spiked 50%. Part of this, certainly, is a result of at least slightly improved economic conditions since the bottoming out of the economy in 2008. There is also the not insignificant matter of intensive marketing by carmakers, who seemed to be flailing for a few years, terrified that the next generation of wealthy consumers were somehow going to travel about without private vehicles. This study is among the first to alleviate their fears.

Developing smaller cars that appeal to young consumers who are putting off parenting until their 30s has been one of the approaches to which automakers have turned — and it seems to be working.

This study is another piece in a large puzzle as marketers attempt to understand this unprecedented generation.

The art and science of understanding Millennial consumers is the specialty of CampusAuction, which links socially conscious young consumers with businesses that understand them and the things they care about. If you need to reach the Millennial demographic, contact Eyal Lichtmann at partnerships@CampusAuction.com.

 

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We need to shop – why not have fun?

Evidence is piling up faster and faster that new technologies are replacing old means of communication. For companies that are marketing to Millennials, this evidence is crucial — and sometimes surprising.

More and more Americans are getting their news from the Internet, which is not a huge surprise. Fully 66% still say that television is their main source of news, down from 82% in 2002. Among 18 to 29 year olds, though, the numbers are shocking. In just the last five years, the Internet has become the main source of news for a large majority of young adults, jumping from 34% to 65%.

A different study addresses the manner in which companies are responding to the change in consumers’ patterns of information absorption. A particularly intriguing example is the way brands that market to children are using online technologies to reach kids. If Millennials are known for being tech-smart, the next generation of kids is going to put even this generation of young adults to shame. More than one-third of four- and five-year-olds in the United States use some sort of mobile device like a smart phone or tablet. Slightly less than one-quarter of that age group use a laptop computer. Businesses that are seeking to reach this demographic have been limited in recent decades by federal regulations about how they can present their products to children. Responding to pressure, rather than legislation, some companies, including McDonald’s, Burger King, Mars and Kraft, have agreed to market healthier food products to children.

However, there are no regulations on the kind of marketing that can be done on mobile apps. Innovative marketers have chosen to take a somewhat soft-sell approach to marketing to the youngest consumers, creating online game apps to promote awareness of their products.

Snack food companies are creating simple games that let children pretend to make things from cookie dough or to create pretzels, using (presumably) mom’s or dad’s smart phone.

One parent says, “it’s harmless — it’s definitely good that they play that versus some of the other violent video games that are out there.”

A mother comments, “If it keeps them entertained for a couple of minutes, it’s not like my kids are only going to eat Cookie Dough Bites and not vegetables at dinner.”

The lesson from this new revolution in fun marketing, one of them at least, is that alternative methods of advertising are key to reaching younger consumers. In the case of video gaming apps that let kids pretend to work in a candy factory, it may appear to be an effort to circumvent legal and public pressures to avoid pushing kids into obesity. In fact, there is a larger matter here. It is the realization that old-fashioned, proscriptive advertising, which tells consumers what to think and what to buy, are increasingly ineffective. An important way to build brand loyalty is to replace top-down advertising with something that is fun, or funny, or that provides some sort of added value to the consumer, rather than simply telling them what they should buy.

What is true for the youngest consumers is true for young adults as well as. Providing everything that a consumer needs to make informed choices — and more — is a key to marketing success. It may seem surprising to some older folks, but giving consumers a couple of minutes of online fun is a value in itself. Is this really any different than the water pistols in the cereal box that we used to hound our mothers to buy? The reward has changed. The concept is surprisingly similar. The key for marketers is to understand and apply the lessons. This can be more easily said than done, given the range of innovative possibilities.

All of this may help to explain why online auctions are among the fastest-growing component of online retail sales.

For a significant portion of the population, shopping has always been as much about entertainment and fun as it has been about getting products that we need. Adding fun components to online shopping is merely recognizing the latest technological incarnation of the human instinct to enjoy the experience of shopping.

For businesses, finding and developing methods for delivering a fun experience to consumers can be taxing and costly. One method, though, is simple and cost-effective. CampusAuction introduces Millennial consumers to businesses that demonstrate corporate social responsibility, through a venue that is fun and rewarding.

For more information about how CampusAuction can connect your brand with fun seeking Millennial consumers, contact Eyal Lichtmann at partnerships@CampusAuction.com.

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The same – only different

Millennials may be a new genre among the generation

Many of the people who are marketing to Millennials have gone slightly hysterical in recent months over the realization that they do not understand the market they are trying to reach.

A perfect example is the not-quite-true assumption that young people are not buying cars or homes. The alleged reticence of 18 to 30 year olds to participate in the traditional big ticket rites-of-passage that have driven the North American economy for generations — new cars and new houses — makes good headlines. The reality, of course, is something different.

In fact, Millennials, also known as Generation Y, need a place to live and a way to get around, just like everyone else. The inability of some marketers to understand how this group differs from previous generations is a symptom of a larger problem.

An in-depth analysis in this month’s Atlantic magazine does more to elucidate the problem than most of the noise in the media today.

The article, “The Cheapest Generation,” by Derek Thompson and Jordan Weissmann, makes the point that young people prize “access over ownership.” What this means, for example, is that young adults do not build their identity around the type of car they drive. Rather, they will grab a cab or a Zipcar if they need to get somewhere. Recognizing this phenomenon, Ford has taken the forward-thinking step of signing a big deal with Zipcar on the belief that, when Millennials do finally get around to buying cars, they will choose one they are familiar with — the one they know from using Zipcars.

This by no means suggests that young people have abandoned the materialism of earlier generations completely. Their self-identity is very much wrapped up in the kind of electronics they use, particularly their smart phones. It may seem overly simplistic to say, but young adults of the 1950s and ‘60s needed a car to get to the, let’s say, malt shop in order to keep in touch with their peers. Today’s generation does not. There is, of course, no malt shop, and keeping in touch does not require leaving home.

And, speaking of homes, the idea that young people are not buying homes is also not quite correct. Yes, economic realities have meant that greater numbers than ever are living in multigenerational housing situations (i.e., the parents’ basement) but those who are striking out on their own express overwhelmingly the same desire to own a home as their parents and grandparents did. One of the differences is that this generation is seeking a different kind of house. According to the Atlantic article, a spokesperson for the National Association of Realtors says that this age group is looking for convenience and compactness.

“The types of properties young people are buying now are different from what [that age group] bought five years ago,” according to Shannon Williams King, vice chair of strategic planning for the NAR. “They are within walking distance of shopping centers. These buyers want bike shares and Zipcars. They like feeling connected.”

All of these factors almost certainly relate to another demographic reality, which is that this generation is, if not “failing to launch,” at least launching later than previous generations. They are getting married and starting families later than their parents or grandparents did. It is reasonable to assume that as children come along, these families will recognize the need for larger homes and larger cars, just as their parents have. In this sense, the current generation of young adults may be considered as an entire new genre of generation — just as the very concept of “teenager” was invented in the 1950s, even though obviously that age category had always existed. We may now be looking at a new life phase that will become a permanent part of our understanding. A new generation, a new phase of life in between teenagehood and adulthood, a phenomenon no less real or significant than the creation two generations ago of teenagehood as a way-station between childhood and adulthood.

What this means for businesses is vast, just as the “creation” of teenagehood in the 1950s changed marketing forever. It will become increasingly necessary to recognize the uniqueness of 20somethings when developing marketing strategies. The things that teenagers buy are not necessarily the same things that adults buy. The things that Millennials buy, however, are precursors to the full-fledged adult-onset consumer needs that at least some in this generation will almost certainly begin demanding in five, 10 or 15 years. As Ford has recognized, meeting Millennials’ needs now means laying a crucial foundation for brand loyalty years from now.

Marketing to Millennials requires a whole new way of thinking, but we already knew that. As information piles up about the particularities of this generation, we come to understand a little bit more about how they are different — and how they are the same.

Businesses that need to understand Millennials — and all businesses do — can find a crucial resource in CampusAuction. Among the foremost Millennial marketing venues, CampusAuction is not only amassing all relevant information available today about this demographic, they are interacting with them in real time and introducing them to businesses that need to reach them – using a crucial value proposition that makes the difference.

For more information, contact Eyal Lichtmann at partnerships@campusauction.com.

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