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I’m a 20 year old marketing major going into my senior year at UConn, and this summer I had the opportunity to work at Primacy, a digital-first marketing and technology agency.  I heard tons of different buzzwords all summer but one of them stuck out to me: millennials. This word was said most often in confusion and sometimes with apprehension. I realized most people think of millennials this way, when in reality, we’re not that hard to understand. Since starting my internship, this word has been tossed around almost daily. I’ve seen study after study trying to understand millennials and to give reasons why traditional marketing isn’t working on us. But why should it?  We don’t live the traditional lifestyle which is something for which we have no control:  the economy has changed, so our goals have changed as well, we’re no longer getting married in our early twenties or looking for a mortgage.  We’re prolonging our post-college days, but responsibly so.  Wouldn’t you do the same if you could?  No, we’re not traditional but we’re the new-traditional.  People are ever-evolving, so why talk badly about us for being different? Change is natural, just because we’re different doesn’t mean we’re a doomed generation.  We’re challenging you to change with us and stop resisting it.Misunderstanding MillennialsMillennials is a word that too many people are struggling to understand.  But people aren’t the only ones having a hard time. Microsoft Word doesn’t even recognize it as an actual word. And Google has its own opinion on millennials as observed by the predictive search terms that surface (e.g., “millenials are lazy, are stupid, etc.) represented in the graphic below.

 millennials search on google

Yes, we’re different than other generations, but what’s so bad about that? We’ve adapted to the technology that’s around us every day, we’re learning and growing right along with the rest of the world.  We are different but instead of trying to understand us, people are resisting and assuming the worst.What’s different about us?We’re the generation that grew up with technology first.  We know the trends without needing to research them, because, well, we create them.  We learn differently in school than the generation before us did, this is partly because we’re using SMART boards during every lesson, we have laptops in class, we’re assigned online homework, etc.  We’re just learning with the tools you’ve put in our classrooms. This brings up our forte of multitasking: yes, I can be on Facebook in class and still pay attention at the same time (sorry, Mom). You might be saying “there’s no way you can pay attention sufficiently in class while also checking different forms of social media,” but I contend that there is a way, and this is a defining part of us millennials: we see what we consider to be important and filter the rest. And that’s what’s crucial about us and (seemingly) obvious. There are a few other obvious traits about us, listed next.5 tips to communicate to millenials:How to market to millennials from a millennial:
  • We like instant gratification from simple and straightforward media.
  • We like lots of pictures and little text.  Something needs to catch our eye and spark some interest.
  • We’re smart, and we don't want to waste our time.  Surprise us. Interest us.  Shock us. We’ll think it’s worth our time. Don’t try to trick us or treat us like we’re dumb.  We’ll see right through you.
  • We multitask: we watch TV while texting or using our laptops (sometimes even texting from our laptops, thank you Apple), sometimes about what we’re watching on TV, or looking for more information regarding something we saw.
  • We want to see things of high quality—impress us.  If we look at a website and know we could make it better ourselves, we will be turned off from it. If you’re not willing to put in the time to make it look good, why would we waste our time on a so-so site when the same information can be found somewhere more impressive?
I promise we’re really not that hard to understand. And it’s not bad that we’re different.  According to Google, we aren’t that much different than other generations.  Google thinks the same of all of us as again demonstrated in the following boomers search on googleDon’t treat us with disdain but think of us as a challenge: we’re here to make you a better, more competitive company.