There’s a lot of buzz about marketing to millennials. As the generation ages it becomes, more and more, the primary market for the majority of industries. Business and marketing analysts often say that marketing to millennials means appealing to social identity, the social values, and ethics of your market.
As millennials become the dominant consumer, they are also one of the largest workforces. Let’s set aside the tired stereotypes of the lazy and entitled millennial for a while and look at all the ways millennial social behaviour and values can benefit a business when they are placed in management positions.
Even with the positives, it’s important not to generalize. Stating that the generation is focused on social ethics doesn’t mean they all value the same things or possess the same moral convictions. There’s as wide a variety of political, social, spiritual and ethical associations among millennials as any other generation. There are, however, common threads that can be followed.
Millennials Value Work-Life Balance
A lot of people see the negative side of this trait and call millennials lazy because they eschew the workaholic lifestyle that popular culture portrays as virtuous. Millennials understand, however, that appropriate levels of work-life balance benefit businesses just as much as employees.
Happier workers are more engaged and productive. Several experiments have been performed with different types of work weeks: four days of 40 hours, 30-hour weeks, or options as simple as flex and remote time availability. Debate still occurs about how effective shorter work weeks can be, but there is a great deal of consensus that overwork and long hours cause not only health problems but are inefficient for the business.
Just because we don’t have the correct solution yet doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to experiment with ways to balance a healthy lifestyle with work productivity, and millennial managers are key allies in this process. Millennials aren’t selfishly motivated for wanting this kind of balance, because healthy, happy, motivated employees benefit everyone.
Work-life balance doesn’t just mean when people leave the office, either. Work days punctuated by appropriate breaks, pleasant environments and even leisure activities are strong benefits not just for the workforce, but for the company. Tech giants, in particular, are experimenting with radical changes to the normally accepted processes and environments.
You don’t need to be like Netflix and offer unlimited vacation time or like Patagonia and provide on-site yoga to start investing in balance at the workplace. Creating comfortable, spacious, and relaxing break rooms is one simple step on that road, and if you encourage your millennial managers to be part of the workplace innovation process, pleasant surprises are around the corner.
Millennials Value Strong Social and Environmental Ethics
Millennials don’t just care about issues of social and environmental responsibility — and, unlike the stereotypes, they don’t just spend all day griping about them online either. Instead millennials are becoming leaders in efforts to create the world they want to see and be part of.
Businesses would be wise to take advantage of this natural drive and leadership ability that the millennial generation possesses. As they gain more experience they become stronger forces, stronger leaders, and more effective advocates.
This isn’t to say that all millennials have the same stance on things like environmental or social issues. Not all of them care. However, millennials often possess strong opinions about the causes a company chooses to align themselves with or contribute to. So a company wishing to become more environmentally conscious would do well to promote millennials who share those values into positions that allow them to share their ideas and directly affect change.
Neither should it be said that millennials have values and other generations don’t. Other generations hold values just as strongly; just different ones.
So if you’re looking to solve the millennial mystery, market to millennials. Create products and services that solve millennial problems. Hire and promote millennials that understand these strongly held beliefs. You don’t have to make your company a slave to a certain set of ideals; you just need to make sure you’re hiring people who understand them if they’re held by your audience.
Millennials Engage With Brands Very Differently
Social media is one of the biggest digital marketing channels. The problem is that in the digital world, marketing isn’t just marketing anymore. Social media, especially, is customer service and public relations just as much as marketing.
Companies who fail to understand this complexity regularly get burned by social media users in many less-than-ideal customer service interactions. Social media is about organic social connection, so users are already a little wary of its use by business brands. Businesses who wish to be successful on social media and make the most of its potential need to embrace the idea of human connection and provide customers with an interactive experience that rings true, instead of being focused on selling all the time.
Millennials understand this complexity best. Many of them live it, and millennial managers can help guide a business to true social media success. Despite cynical claims to the contrary, the average millennial is a hard worker, possesses a creative and social mindset, and will add authenticity to your brand as well as contribute to a successful workplace culture.
Millennials are creating change in modern industries all the time. Remember that the oldest of them are in their 30s now. They’re experienced and settling into long-term careers. And you may need their expertise about their own generation if your business is going to survive the fact that they outnumber baby boomers now.