No doubt by now, marketers understand the importance of the Millennial generation, made up of nearly 80 million people born in the United States between 1980 and 2000.
But from where I sit, Millennials are less a demographic and more a psychographic. More generations are acting “Millennial” by leveraging digital tools to interact and engage with the world. They’re asking more from brands regarding how they treat their employees and their customers. They’re caring about how corporations impact the world.
These people are not necessarily Millennial-aged, but they are Millennial-minded. They are Baby Boomers, Gen Z, and Gen X, too, and they are all being impacted by and jumping into conversations about AI, bitcoin, growth hacking, biohacking, and plenty more.
Given the sheer volume of Millennial-minded consumers, the topics that matter to them absolutely matter to us. They are the ones guiding how we position our brands, create our messaging, and redefine what we stand for. They are the ones who are driving our focus. To be sure, there are many considerations. Read on.
1. Sustainability from the inside out: A 2017 global study by Unilever found one-third of consumers buy from brands based on their social and environmental impact. But what does sustainability actually look like? In 2018, the Millennial-minded will look for more from the brands they purchase. They will expect the brands they interact with to not only talk the talk but walk the walk with their packaging, the way they treat their employees, and how they impact the planet.
2. Investing in yourself: Technology is making it easier to invest and save money, yet 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings, and they spend $80 billion annually on lottery tickets. Something is off. Expect to see new tools in the market, such as Grand, change the “unsexy” psychology around saving by making it easier for anyone, whether they are 18 or 80, to feel like they are winning as they are saving.
3. Currency will be nothing like we thought: Bitcoin has become a ubiquitous term these past few months, and yet it represents only the beginning of the changes we are going to see in how we perceive currency. This will be the year where more people and companies come up with new ways to barter without ever exchanging a physical item.
4. Travel will become more personalized: The hashtag #travel has been used more than 242 million times on Instagram, yet few platforms have leveraged the personal touch of sharing travel aspirations and inspirations on social platforms. New companies are beginning to pop up, such as like El Camino Travel, provide professional photographers on groups tours so travelers can enjoy their time and post photos taken for them. Another platform, Trill (in beta), aggregates your friends’ activities while they are traveling to show you the best places to eat, drink, and sleep.
5. Education will span outside the four walls of a classroom:This will be the year where digital and physical experiences meet to enhance the learning experience. Indeed, education is becoming holistic, using digital technology as a way to bring people closer together offline. Companies such as PenPal Schools are changing the way people can teach and learn with platforms that connect individuals from all over the world.
6. Music festivals will have to be more than just festivals: According to Nielsen Music, at least 32 million people attended a music festival in America in 2014, with new festivals popping up by the dozens ever since. As a result, they need better ways to distinguish themselves. Life is Beautiful, Rise, Global Citizen, and other festivals are creating experiences that transform the way people look at themselves, their roles in their cities, and their roles in the world. Going forward they are tasked with having to create a larger conversation than having influencers share a social media post that says “buy a ticket.”
7. Wellness will become holistic health: While overall wellness was a big buzzword in 2017, holistic health–which focuses on changing behaviors to improve our mental, physical, and emotional health–will become more of a focus in 2018. Going forward, individuals will start questioning wellness “gurus” and make sure they are listening to true experts who can help them with every aspect of their health.
8. Data will become more human: Data’s importance can never be overstated, but 2018 will provide an opportunity for more transparency, humanity, and personalized communication tactics when it comes to targeting. Just because a brand/agency/media platform knows someone’s every move doesn’t mean they know how to communicate to them. 2018 will ask brands to treat customers like humans, not like numbers.
9. User-generated content will drive the narrative: More and more people are joining social platforms every day to share their stories. The days of having brands spew out promotions are over. People want to be heard, and they want to feel like brands care about them.
10. Influencer marketing will pivot dramatically to “human marketing”: The word “influencer” will drastically change in 2018. FTC regulations have changed the way influencers can now endorse products in an authentic way. Micro-influencers, or as I like to call them, “humans,” will take a large percentage of the budgets normally allocated for celebrities.
11. Self-organization will become more of the norm: The Millennial-minded are asking more from the companies they work for. While self-organization has been the way some companies, such as Zappos, work, more will recognize the importance of transitioning away from hierarchy and into a more evolved corporate structure.
12. People will embrance being human: While we have a plethora of information about how AI will be a daily part of our lives, people are recognizing the value they offer as humans. More people will become inventors and makers, tapping into our creative sides to translate code into new and transformative products, rather than being fearful of being replaced by robots.