This guest post was written by Allysia Lowe, a masters student in digital marketing.
Millennials are having a bit of a tough go of it, aren’t they?
Every day another critique of their “lackadaisical” attitudes or self-obsessed strategies shows up, but I feel that we’ve been approaching the problem, as my mom would say it, “bass ackwards” (you can figure that one out for yourself).
The culture we are currently surrounded by doesn’t seem to appreciate the strengths and challenges facing the millennial generation. However, if we’re collectively willing to capitalize on what millennials have to offer society as a whole, then perhaps we’ll find that the current tension between millennials following their dreams vs. the dreams of their parents can be resolved.
In case you don’t already know, I thought it’d be helpful to put together this list of 5 things you should know about millennials – all key things I believe millennials have to offer society in a positive way.
1. Generation GO
Gen Y gets a bad rap for not being the “right” kind of consumer – they aren’t buying houses, they aren’t buying cars, they aren’t settling down…
Although many of these realities are the result of external factors, like high student debt, coupled with a continuously dwindling economy, the vast majority of millennials still opt to travel and nest far from their home base in search of a lifestyle that will suit them – not their parents.
As such, millennials are often compared to their parent’s generation – “the greatest generation” – the Baby Boomers. If we restate the narrative in terms of millennials being the new pioneers instead of a crew who just can’t seem to get it together, then a different picture emerges.
Millennials are exploring new and previously uncharted digital territory, along with a rapidly changing global economy. We should be applauding millennial’s willingness to explore the changing landscape, and realize that the diverse experiences more and more millennials have to offer are a great knowledge bank to draw from.
I hear many people ask, “How can ‘Generation Mobile’ even be committed to community? How can they even have a community at all?” This is a piece of the puzzle that social media helps fill – to a certain extent.
Millennials are dedicated to two communities: local and digital.
The idea of local community is a deeply-held moral value, and therefore, a millennial’s participation within their community is not dependent on an already-existing tie to that community.
Millennial entrepreneurs, therefore, are great assets to their local community, as the choice to be a part of the community or not does not exist. Where they are is where they want to be, community and all.
Tales of marketing strategies involving genuine goodwill benefit not only the community, but also the creator’s branding, giving a bright future for business owners and consultants.
Millennial’s devotion to their digital community makes them natural at digital networking – they are the reason the “viral video” is now a hot commodity in the marketing world.
In addition, the everyday consumer benefits greatly from digital communities that are created by the millennial. Frequent interaction and a high estimation of customer feedback is now considered a consumer’s basic right, giving rise to a more efficient workflow.
3. Non materialistic
Surprising studies are finding that Gen Y is significantly less materialistic and unattached to items than previous generations.
While the jury is still out on whether or not this trend will continue over time, this is a great strength to have. The lack of investment in “things” and an increased value given to quality time, experiences and personal relationships all add up to a more frugal generation.
Millennials are far less likely to throw their money at frivolous investments or useless gadgetry, meaning that entrepreneurial pursuits are likely to be well-backed and thoughtfully crafted.
4. Civic minded
Stemming from their deep investment in their local communities, millennials are far more civic minded and actively engaged in volunteering efforts.
Additionally, millennials are often very up-to-date on a vast number of news topics – they care about the changing landscape around them and take advantage of the fact that staying well-informed is now much easier than it used to be.
Finally, all of these factors add up to the most notable feature of millennials: they are action-oriented.
Although this may seem surprising to some who read headlines of millennials lingering at their parents homes and being choosier about work, these generalizations all stem from millennials’ desires to accomplish big things.
Millennials don’t want to waste their time or money trying to learn skills that, in the end, will not help them achieve their long-term, big goals. Perhaps this is why they are choosing to not pursue higher education, much to their parents’ chagrin, and, instead, dive straight into building their portfolio and business connections.
Not going the route their parents encourage by locking down a 9-5 might seem risky, but if there is one thing millennials are natural at, it’s networking and figuring out ways they can make a difference.
Society as a whole should be willing to take a step back and support these digital pioneers in their daring and big dreams. By recognizing the pressures and hurdles millennials are inheriting – in light of sky-rocketing prices of higher education and the economic downturn – we have the opportunity to equip them with the strength they need to succeed.
A little bit of faith will help feed them, encouraging them to pursue their big dreams.
Allysia Lowe is a masters student in digital marketing. Her goal is to help small businesses and non-profits navigate the new digital frontier and capitalize on the strengths of her generation. Add her on Google Plus!