Millennials, Sma-llennials

Note: I went to Woodstock, NY, in August 1969 - I was 17. I don't remember much of it, as I was "high"-ly self medicated, but it was a landmark event for my generation. Therefore, I am a baby boomer and damn proud of it. Enjoy! As always, you can find all my blog posts from 2013 to the present on my website at

Poodle Flippers!
I have been delving into the phenomenon and notoriety of the Millennial Generation for the last 6 months and I have come to a conclusion; the more things (seem) to change, the more they remain the same. Read on.

There is a mountain of information on this demographic group we call the "Millennials", which was puzzling to me at first, but then I finally found one of the principal reasons for it - MONEY! This group promises to be one of the largest demographic groups to be concurrently alive in the last 100 years and their buying habits, coupled with their tech-savvy, will create both a marketing challenge and an opportunity for those businesses with their eye on the ball and able to target in on this group.

Think about it - in a way - for commerce, this is a perfect storm of critical mass, buying power, and available, blazingly fast technology at their fingertips and, what's more, they use it incessantly. However - caveat emptor - let the buyer (and seller) beware, this group is heavily influenced by their peer group because of their constant use of a lot of social media, and, what is considered the best thing today, can quickly fall into a death spiral within a few months (think Ello - the much promised conqueror of Facebook - where is it now?)

Are They Really That Different?
As I look back on my own time line and when I started to become aware of my predictable demographic behavior, I was in my late 30's and I fit right into the molded structures that had been created by social psychologists long before I came along. I stayed far away from traditional practices, constructs, and anything that my father and his generation engaged in; sometimes just to be contrary and, also, to appear to be the Renaissance man I thought I was!

Now, with more perspective and historical information to review, I was not really that much different than the generation before me and that one before that.

There is one critical difference that differentiates the Millennial Generation from mine and those that came before us. I was talking with a colleague, Diana Hutchinson, last week about this upcoming blog and her comment struck me when I said that they are not that much different than my generation. Her response was perfect and right on point, "Yes, but they have a voice." BAM! Of course, she's right. I talk with a lot of Millennial's in my work, as well as in my social wanderings and that is why I am convinced that they are really not fundamentally different than you and me. The distinguishing feature is that they can have a loud voice and they use it. Coupled with technology, the speed and number of mediums of communication has heightened the power of this group far beyond what I had available to me at their age.

What Pushes Their Buttons
Millennials worry about many of the same things that my generation does, but in different proportions. If you look quickly at the chart to the right, there is one theme that stands out - balance! The phrase I hear all the time from them (and their employers) is, "We Want Work-Life Balance." That is definitely not true of my generation and those that came before me. Just take a look at the chart to the left, which illustrates how they approach and prioritize the workplace.

The value of work for this demographic group is that the means is more important than the end, vs. my generation's mantra of, "Whoever dies with the most toys wins." I think they may be onto something that we can still learn; the journey is just as important as the destination. And, there are just as many ways to get where you want to go as there are individuals to go there.

Next week: Blurring the lines between generations.