During the month of October, we're exploring content focused on youth, specifically millennials and the Class of 2016. We asked one of our interns, aka a millennial, to provide perspective on how he felt about the Atlantic labeling him a member of the 'Cheapest Generation.'? Read Sherwin's rebuttal to this classification below.
If there's one thing you should know about the millennial generation, it's that we often feel misunderstood. Add to the fact that others think our generation is different in terms of how we behave, think about and interact with different people, brands and things in general. Truth be told, we are very similar to every other generation.
The main difference is the abundance of emerging technological and cultural inventions and innovations with which we grew up. This environment shaped our lifestyle, behavior and perspective of the world we now live in.
In an age where so much information is accessible and abundant, it should be no surprise that the millennial generation will know more about a brand or product before actually physically interacting with it. This fact totally influences our purchasing decisions. Our generation decides not solely based on what's cheap but on what's most cost efficient. To say that price is the major determinant is like missing the bull's eye on how our generation behaves as consumers and generally as people.
We are a value-oriented generation. The reason why we rent Zipcars over buying our own automobiles is due to a variety of factors - including how much our decision would cost (price, convenience, safety, etc) and the functional value and emotional attachment we feel.
Rather than hastily generalizing our generation when developing youth marketing strategies, brands need to understand not just where but why and how we spend. It's a much more complex process than they think. For example, renting Zipcars over buying a real car, purchasing songs on iTunes and getting books on Amazon over traditional stores, and searching on Google over the dictionary is not only cheaper, but it is much more convenient, efficient, environmentally-friendly and the list goes on. I would argue that it is value (which is influenced by a lot of internal and external factors) that drives us beyond mere price.
We are actually a very expensive generation. Ask any millennial what their favorite brands or products are, and you would hear the most popular, exclusive and expensive brands out there. Although we may not be the actual buyer, we also take the role of being key influencers to those who possess the buying power ' parents, working class, etc. Truth be told, sometimes, we even spend more than what we earn.
Take it from a certified mother of two. AMP Agency's VP for Media Services, Elaine Tocci mentioned that her kids nowadays are not only more aware of luxury brands, but also have the desire to always remain in the loop for the latest trends, and guess who has to make the purchase? Not the millennial, but (you got it!) mother dearest. Truly, the millennial generation is an influential group of peeps.
Moreover, looking at things from a more proactive standpoint, our generation's behavior (which was shaped by previous generations' decisions) is actually a catalyst to innovation. It is our value determination process that continues to challenge marketers and brands to be more creative and out-of-the-box with their strategies. Our generation will not settle for products that are unable to fulfill our expectations and provide value, and this is a means of quality control that will weed out the good brands from those that are not. Marketers just have to be persistent about understanding behavior.
Indeed, the aforementioned cycle of 'understanding' every new generation's behavior will continue to change just as each generation will continue to innovate and shape the environment for
that of the future. Before you know it, a new generation will takeover, and hence give rise to new behaviors and buying patterns, a potential overhaul of strategies and a shift and demand in understanding consumer behavior based on the new available mediums and environment.
So don't miss the boat, because you never know... the next generation might just leave everyone else behind.