How to Define ‘Millennial’

In an industry where demographics and public interests rule business decisions, it is not surprising that PR professionals are constantly trying to pin down the current generation. You are probably already familiar with the “Baby Boomers,” but what about the “Millennials“? Defined quite broadly as those born between 1980 and 1995, these people are technically the future of not only PR, but nearly every other industry as well. In a blog posted by Margot Edelman, she claims the Millennial generation is not quite what everyone has made it out to be.

According to Edelman, Millennials are not the tweet-sharing, technology-savvy youth that people assume. While partly true, she offers evidence that there is more substance behind their curious attitudes. Particularly interesting was her research behind Millennials’ product loyalty and promotion. According to her findings, “70 percent of Millennials keep coming back to companies and products they like.” That is promising for some companies, in that that if they have already found a loyal following, they are likely to maintain their success. Modern companies like Apple and Nike come to mind in terms of brands that appeal to young demographics, and know how to keep them coming back as customers.

Even more interesting, “74 percent of Millenials surveyed indicated they had talked to a friend about a favorite brand in the past week.” So not only are Millenials loyal, they are also the best promoters of the brands and products that they love. This statistic seems to directly relate to the core principles of social media: share what’s on your mind, and share it with everyone you know … probably via Facebook and Twitter. Are these Millenials updating their statuses about the trendy new restaurant downtown? Mostly likely, yes.

While it is apparent that Millenials aren’t defined just yet, it does appear true that they are more than their stereotype portrays. They are certainly future-focused, which is a good indication for the next generation of PR technology. In addition, it seems like the Millenials are willing and open to participating in the tools that the PR industry provides.

How do you define the Millenial generation? What do you think they have to offer to the world, and the PR industry?

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4 Responses to How to Define ‘Millennial’

  1. hdfulton says:

    This is an interesting concept. It is true that not all Millenials are tech-savvy. I know plenty of people who check their emails once a week or less, and still only use their cell phones to talk.

    Personally, I think older Millenials have a greater advantage than others. They were born in a era where technology was advancing rapidly. They’ve seen and used cassette tapes, got excited when portable CD players hit the market, and they’ve also had enough time to wrap their heads around iTunes, the Apple craze and the rise of social media. Because of this, I feel like Millenials are more apt to research companies and products before promoting or representing them. They’re technology skeptics, but enthusiasts — and I think that’s what the PR world needs.

  2. bajohn10 says:

    Thank you hdfulton for the insight! I too agree with your point that Millennials are skeptics, but also enthusiasts. Coming from this generation myself, I know that I will not dedicate my time to something unless it has a good reputation. There is such a wide variety of social media and other tools, that I hone my focus in on what will benefit me the most.

  3. cmmassey says:

    I like that our generation is taking others by surprise. We are very much about branding. I noticed that a long time ago. I remember when I was in sixth grade, everyone seemed to be wearing Vans shoes. I asked people why they bought those shoes, and they said they look good and are comfortable. I then thought that I had to have them. It is the same today with Apple products. It seems like everywhere you go on campus there is someone sitting with a MacBook. These brands appeal to us because of peer recommendation. I will ask my friends who have Mac computers why they bought that specific computer. Their response has nothing to do with the fact that everyone else has one, it’s about the product. That is why I want a Mac, because of my peers recommending it to me, and I will take their word over a commercial.

  4. shuscher says:

    I think that Edelman’s assertions are spot on. I definitely can think of a handful of brands that I live by. For instance, Starbucks and Apple are two such brands that I always stay loyal to and always praise. I wouldn’t even think about swapping these brands out for something else.

    I also think that curiosity still plays a large role in our generation. For instance, because we’re so curious, we research different brands online and learn more about them through peer reviews and more. We’ve grown up doing this. Therefore, when we do promote our favorite brands, we often have strong facts to support our statements.

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