Editor's note: Robin Hafitz is founder and CEO of Open Mind Strategy, a New York research firm.
With legacy industries and organizations scrambling to retain profits and relevance in this age of constant category disruption, a great deal of ink has been spilled trying to explain Millennials to those who want to target or hire them. After all, Millennials, the generation that has most recently come of age, are the segment that businesses, whether disruptors and defenders, desperately need to get it right with, if they want to survive and grow in the future. With Millennials at an age when consumer preferences and career paths are still being forged (20-to-35-years old), now’s the time for brands and companies to connect with them if they want to encourage loyal bonds. Plus, at roughly one-quarter of the total U.S. population, Millennials wield tremendous influence and purchase power.
While so much has been written about them that many – especially among Millennials themselves – may be suffering from Millennial fatigue, it makes good business sense to be rather obsessed with this generation, formerly known as Y. (Since they came after Gen X, Millennials were originally dubbed Gen Y but given the name Millennials by William Strauss and Neil Howe in 1987).
And, though much is written about the group, myths and out-of-date or incomplete perceptions abound. That’s unfortunate, since oversimplified “insights” may actually lead businesses away from their goal of forming solid connections. My firm regularly updates qualitative fieldwork and conducts quarterly quantitative tracking among Millennials and Gen Z, and data from our Youth IQ survey is the source for most of the statistics cited below. Three key ways to get it right with Millennials are noted – along with fresh data on behaviors and attitudes and suggestions on how to get it right with Millennials.
First: Don’t overgeneralize