They are born between 1982 and 1995 (or 2000 by some standards), have a number of monikers—Millenials, Gen Y, Digital Natives, the Peter Pan Generation; are the first group to have lived their whole lives with the Internet and 250+ cable stations at their disposal; and, are the same size or bigger than the Baby Boomer generation (1946-1961).
That last reason is the impetus for their key handle, Echo Boomers, and I believe it behooves us all to take in a cliff-notes version of what differentiates these folks from their preceding generations.
I like to start any assignment with sizing the prize…in Canada, Echo Boomers account for about 9.5 million of our current 35 million people (if you’re curious, Boomers are 8.8 million and Gen Xers are 7.3 million)
As digital natives, their go-to source is almost always, well…digital. However, they use digital very differently than other groups (eg: Boomer’s favour email, Echo Boomer’s less so). They are tapped into social networking in a way that only one quote has captured precisely enough for me from Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research,
“…students who used social media and decided to quit showed the same withdrawal symptoms of a drug addict who quit their stimulant.”
They are just getting their feet under them, and the recession of 2006 had a big impact on them. There were many who came out of college/uni with set-the-world-on-fire goals, and this economic downturn has definitely dampened those dreams. They are finding it tough to get traction in the workforce and most estimates have the unemployment rate for this group at about 15-18%.
For some, this sent them back home to live with parents who, by the way, they have a curiously compelling relationship with (again, relative to other generations); and back to school for advanced degrees. That last bit is a gamble many are making that more education will equal more job security, employability, finances and any number of other desirable outcomes.
They have been accused of having workplace expectations too high for where they are in their careers, but that is not something that’s not likely to change. Major organizations are trying to find ways to bridge the gap between this group and other generation, as well as give them more of what’s important to them in terms of perks/benefits.
What IS important to them? This is a hornet’s nest. UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute, which as monitored the same types of questions of their student body since 1966 says these guys, compared to their namesake, are:
*twice as concerned with wealth;
*almost half as inclined to staying abreast of political affairs; and,
*half as interested in developing a meaningful life philosophy.
What we have seen is a lower value on owning their own car; an inclination to buy based on peer suggestion vs. advertising or pr (no real surprise there right?); and, a tendency to buy “smaller houses on smaller lots” if they concede to owning their own home at all; and a very mixed bag of indicators related to their true level of social responsibilty.
For now I’ll leave you with this little tid-bit…according to a recent Cassandra report:
“When asked who can make the biggest difference in the world, and given a choice of President Obama, Oprah, Greenpeace, Mark Zuckerberg and Apple, 22% said Apple, which came in second behind President Obama.”
Other resources focused on Millenials/Gen Y/Echo Boomers