Often I hear Boomers ask, what is a Millennial and why should I care? Millennials are generally defined as people born between 1980 and 2000, and are known for a variety of unique traits.
Some Boomers have an idea in their minds about Millennials and it looks something like this:
Mostly, we are known for strong online and social media usage, short attention spans, and instant gratification – all of which sometimes give us a bad rap.
We do exhibit certain dichotomies, making us appear contradictory to older generations. The current socioeconomic climate has spurred many Millennials to abandon lifestyles of excess in favor of a more responsible and waste-free existence… oftentimes marrying our love of tech and nostalgia. If you were to check a Millennial’s browser history you shouldn’t be surprised to find searches for urban gardening, preserving and canning, price checks for flea-market finds, or how to repurpose an old pallet into a daybed. Our grandparents and great-grandparents are the gatekeepers of this knowledge, which was simply the way of life during the Great Depression. Somewhere along the way, our parents got distracted (ahem, the 60s, 70s, and 80s) and didn’t pass the skills along. Armed with Google, YouTube, and Pinterest, Millennials are bringing these DIY skills back, partly out of necessity from the Great Recession and partly because we have a great sense of purpose (often confused with entitlement). In short, Millennials are the new stewards of old-school.
So, why does it seem as though we can’t get along with Boomers, whose parents most likely shared a similar mindset to Millennials?
We do have some off-putting character traits that seem very selfish… like the need to always be connected and have information at our fingertips. The extreme of which is sleeping with these beside our beds:
We are drawn to these nostalgic things, which Boomers may associate with their earlier life or their parents:
Understanding what drives Millennials will be increasingly important for Boomers. Don’t discount us! We are responsible for social movements like the communications revolution of the mid-2000s and the Arab Spring. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is a role model of sorts, showing us how an idea can spawn a revolution in how people socialize, communicate, interact with brands, and become activists – not to mention make a good living.
We are multitaskers (and expert Googlers), fast and efficient.
We entered the job market when times were tough, prompting many of us to stay at home to save money while working a series of part-time jobs that we loved instead of taking any job that came along.
Now that the economy seems to be in recovery mode, we have full-time jobs and some experience under our belts. Aside from the Boomers, we are the largest generation in the work force, and many articles have been written about how the two biggest generations can work together.
Having full-time jobs, resourcefulness, a love of all things DIY/craft/local/home-grown, and our tech savvy ways, we are a dynamic bunch… with successful careers ranging from entrepreneurs with our own start-up online chicken coop company or to employees of Fortune 500’s.
Our pocket books are opening up… and people are talking about it.
By 2017, we will become the generation with the most buying power. Smart businesses are paying attention to Millennials now. Because of Millennials’ unique traits and consumer patterns, they can start making changes to grow advocacy among Millennials and their brand.
So, Boomers, just because we love our screens and seem distracted, don’t think us apathetic. Our styles and ways may be different… just as yours were compared to those who came before. But, our goals are much the same as yours. And, that’s what we can all focus on, celebrate, and learn from.