Understanding the Millennial Consumer

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Understanding the Millennial Consumer

At some point, every company will be forced to focus their marketing efforts on America’s 79 million Millennials, who will increasingly define the economic landscape. Only by understanding who they are, how they think, and how they are influenced will businesses be able to tap into this enormous up-and-coming market.

Born roughly between 1982 and 2000, the defining attribute of this group is that they started entering adulthood around the dawn of the new millennium, hence the name, the Millennials.

Previously this group was called “Generation Y,” to be differentiated from Gen X. They are also referred to as the “The Echo Boom,” because they are mostly the children of the Baby Boomers.

Now, as the oldest member of this generation turns 30, new insights are emerging about the Millennials from several landmark studies — most notably, a report by the Boston Consulting Group called “The Millennial Consumer: Debunking Stereotypes,”1 and Symphony IRI’s analysis, “Millennial Shoppers: Tapping into the Next Growth Segment.”2 This research is revealing a number of shared characteristics that set the Millennials apart from older generations:

  • One of these characteristics is their use of technology. Millennials are quick to adopt new technology, tending to use multiple devices. Having grown up with the Internet, interacting with new media is a way of life, which is a key reason their media consumption patterns are evolving so rapidly.
  • This generation is also called the “Connected Generation” because of their perpetual use of devices to stay connectedin on-going virtual relationships and conversations with friends. According to social research done at the University of Michigan, “social media” are used by 80 to 90 percent of Millennials, with 75 percent of them having created a profile on a social networking site. But their connection is not just social. They are quick to take advantage of the unprecedented access to information that the Internet provides, which has an impact on their buying habits. Even when they sleep, 80 percent have their cell phones on and within reach.
  • For living environmentpreferences, 88 percent of Millennials express the desire to live in an urban setting, and they are 50 percent more likely to live in a three- or four-person household than the nation as a whole. That number jumps to 75 percent for a household of five or more. These households are not necessarily comprised of traditional families. These choices are affecting what and how they buy.
  • Employment has been and currently is an issue for this generation as a result of the leading edge of this group moving into the job market in the aftermath of 9/11, and now more recently in the middle of the Great Recession...

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