Aaah Millennials. Media stereotypes would have us believe they’re either lazy, poor, self-absorbed, job-hopping youths or difficult, self-entitled, smashed-avo-munching know-it-all’s who live for selfies.
The reality is strikingly different. Millennials are unlike any generation before them and they are the most misunderstood and generalised generation. Even credible leadership guru Simon Sinek got an online roasting for his assessment of them.
I’m no expert, far from it. In the last 4 months I’ve read over 40 research reports – of which half reveal characteristics about Millennials – for my new book Talking the Walk®2. I’ve had the pleasure of employing several Millennial staff over the years, and many of my clients are Millennials. So, I’ve spent a bit of time around them. But I am not myself a Millennial, so I’ll never truly understand them. But try I must. And so, must you.
Why? Because they’re incredibly powerful. They are your current employees and future managers and CEO’s. They are your current and future customers (if you are truly responding to their needs). They are potentially your future investors (but not if your only priority is profit). They are, most likely, your future competitors.
There is also a much more important reason that goes far beyond business. The Millennial generation is OUR FUTURE. The most maligned generation of our time is going to have to deal with the most colossal task ever asked of the human race. Our planet is under threat – some scientists say we’ve entered the sixth period of mass extinction of life on earth. Scoff you may, believe the science or not, it doesn’t matter, because Millennials are deeply concerned about it and their future, and they will leave anyone behind – including corporations – that refuse to join them aboard the climate action train.
Millennials are worth 7% of the Australian food & grocery retail market and by 2021 their market share will jump to 17%. Over the next five years they will account for retail growth of $6.1b.
Their revolutionary view of the world is reshaping global business, and Australia is no different.
Their consumption of food, booze and news, love of technology and online shopping habits is vastly different from generations before them. They don’t care to own a car – it’s easier to borrow a vehicle, bicycle or scooter to get around – and it’s so much better for the planet. One in five don’t believe they’ll own a house one day. Second hand is cool, not because it’s cheap, but because Millennials deplore wastage and landfill, driving the multi-billion-dollar second hand economy. Sharing is cool, buoyed by sites like Airbnb, Snapgoods, Uber, The Volte, Rubberdesk, Fiverr and Airtasker. They’re not poor … just prudent with money, spending it on things that are important to them. Many industries (those not innovating fast) will soon be irrelevant and obsolete. A little like the dinosaurs, who were wiped out in the fifth mass extinction. Consider the printing, newspaper, automotive, taxi, hotel and retail industries that Millennials have radically altered in less than a decade.
We know they are highly networked. Younger Millennials have up to 11 connected devices for their news, information, services and entertainment, and to connect with friends. Facebook and YouTube are the preferred channels for the older Millennial and Instagram for the younger group.
Millennials are incredibly diverse
First we have the broad age range – from 19-36. A Millennial at the younger end is likely to be studying or just starting work, whereas at the older end they are living independently and may even have kids of their own. So, to even think about them as similar is foolish, as their mindset, needs and purchase behaviour is going to be very different.
“76% of Australian Millennials aspire to be married”
Then there are cultural differences – a large proportion of our Millennial population live in Sydney & Melbourne where they see the best job opportunities – and of these one in three was born in Asia. This suggests that they embrace more conservative values and behaviour. For example, four in 10 Australian-born Millennials are married compared to seven in 10 Asian-born Millennials. Asian-born Millennials rarely watch TV compared to 22% of Australian-born Millennials.
Incomes vary too – they are not all living the smashed avo lifestyle. Triple J’s youth survey reveals that half of Australian Millennials have less than $5k in the bank and yet another study suggests that the average personal income of an Australian Millennial is $71k. And let’s not forget First Nations people. While there are no current stats on age or work status (that’s rather telling don’t you think?) ABS stats from a decade ago showed one in five of the Indigenous population were Millennial, and half of those were participating in full or part time work or study.
This blog is an excerpt from my latest book, Talking the Walk®2 – How to tell your social good story to resonate with Millennials. All research statistics cited are from this book. To compile Talking the Walk® 2, I read and analysed over 40 research reports from numerous companies and agencies including PWC, Edelman, Havas, Roy Morgan, Reputex and many more.
Part 2 of this blog will be published next week but if you can’t wait, why not order your own copy of the e-book. Find out more and purchase here
 Simon Sinek, leadership guru & author, speaking on Millennials on YouTube. 11m views. https://is.gd/9l6ET4
 The Guardian 2017, Earth’s 6th mass extinction event already underway scientists warn. https://is.gd/WfPWiW
 ABS stats 2002