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COVER Article Millennials: My Way or the Highway This generation trusts peers over institutions/vendors By Gerri Knilans Marketers salivate at the mere mention of the Millennials generation. With 77 million consumers in the group, they are the second largest generation in the United States today. According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials will become the largest generation, surpassing the Baby Boomers by the year 2020, and will go from the existing 27 percent to 36 percent of the US population. Millennials may be a large generation, but numbers alone don’t create sales. The uniqueness of the generation separates it from the Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and its immediate predecessor, Generation X (1964-1980). The marketing challenge is to capture the essence of the generation by knowing how they think, not only as a group, but also as individuals. Millennials break from all previous descriptors in several key areas. According to the Pew Research Center, this generation is the least religiously connected, the most ethnically diverse, the least married, and faces the worst economy since the Great Depression. And yet, both the Pew Research Institute and The Millennials authors, Jess and Thom Rainer, report this generation has a somewhat illogical, but unshaken, confidence in the future. The Best and Worst of Times for Marketers Millennials have greater access to more information than any previous generation. The Internet defines them. Social Media consumes them. Communication connects them. Success often hinges on the fragile yet powerful buzz that can either make or break a brand. The foundation for marketing to this $1.68 trillion group comes from understanding their values, rethinking the elements of the traditional 4P marketing mix, and re-defining customer service. In short, this generation trusts their peers more than the institutions or vendors that want to sell to them. This translates into what marketers call User-Generated Content Forums. The Millennials call it YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp. In a Time Magazine article, “Trust No One But Twitter,” (Feb.16, 2014) the author underscores the trend that today’s young adults don’t easily believe big government or big companies. Lastly, the confluence of the recession, the late start on careers, and their unrealistic optimism about their future world, yet realistic as- sales and service excellence essentials presented by HR.com | 10.2014 Submit your Articles 5


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