We focused on Generation X in the last post. So that we don’t offend the much-hyped self-esteem of the Millennials, we’re going to spend some time on this teens-to-32-year-old group. Before you throw your hands up and protest that you know all you need to about a group of tech-dependent narcissists, consider some of these possibly lesser-known traits. These areas will be the ones to watch as Millennials mature and ascend to their reign as the demographic majority.

  • They’re that big with pockets that deep.Millennials tie with Baby Boomers as 25 percent of the current population, but possess 11 percent more buying power than Boomers had at the same age. And while they use credit cards, they’re increasingly tied to debit cards for survival in the tough economy. A recent survey chronicled their debt shedding with frequently carried balances plunging from 44 percent in 2007 to 26 percent in 2011. While many bear stifling amounts of student-loan debt, the wariness of consumer credit may set up habits for unprecedented post-recession wealth accumulation.
  • All those individual trophies led to a lot of individuals.Woe to marketers who approach Millennials as homogenous. While some feel we may see the group break into pre- and post-recession adults, there remains plenty of opportunity for splintering. With the most racially and ethnically diverse population, we often see blends of cultural trends instead of distinct segments. A Millennial-led household is also eight times more likely to move from one U.S. region to another, allowing needs to shift and grow within new environments. Target must be defined carefully and updated frequently.
  • They’re Redefining Our Language.The term “expert” no longer rests with the Ph.D. crowd to a generation who survives off products developed by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Michael Dell. The essential nature of peer reviews shows that experience and participation establishes expertise among this group. An estimated 68 percent of Millennials state they won’t make purchasing decisions without running it by their trusted network. Also, look for the workday’s meaning to move toward productivity measurements instead of a physical presence, and for loyalty to lose its connections to time.
  • Regarding traditional, they may be seen and not heard. Digital entertainment is not yet exclusive. While there is still interaction with TV, radio, outdoor and other traditional mediums, engagement rates fall lower here — or into a different capacity. There remains an attachment to TV programming, even if it is streamed with fewer commercial options. Fifty-seven percent of Millennials still cite television as the first way they hear about a product or idea. Just because they have access to more tools, it doesn’t mean they only use the newest ones.
  • That pesky label: Vanity is fair. OK, so it may not rise to the level of comedians or sneering comments from Gen-X or Boomer bosses, but Millennials do feel unique and expect communication to follow their preferred path. They feel little need to adapt and slightly offput if messages ignore their communication preferences. Contact them too often and you’ll be banished (or in Facebook terms, hidden). Don’t respond fast enough — typically a day in any digital format — and you’ll lose trust. More than 60 percent demand immediate feedback from texts. Learn their rules, or don’t expect to play.

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