We will be releasing a series of posts over the coming weeks and months addressing a hot button topic: millennials.

From an employer perspective, we must understand how to attract and retain millennial talent. From a business perspective, we need to understand how this generation’s expectations for customer service, customizations, and user experience can drive growth and customer engagement.

What does a data and analytics consultancy have to do with millennials? Simple – understanding how to use data and analytics to drive business decisions and strategies for the largest generation is just one of the many aspects of being data-driven. We will be integrating as much statistics and data analysis in our articles as we can (without boring you!).

What is a Millennial?

Millennials have officially surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation with approximately 54 million Millennials currently in the United States workforce. Born between 1981 and 1997, they are the most diverse and educated generation to date. Other than the fact that the the generation is very large, Millennials are proving to be quite different compared to individuals from older generations.

Below, we highlight some of the most significant (and distinct) characteristics of the Millennial generation:

1. They love their technology

It should be no surprise that Millennials are very tech savvy. Unlike Baby Boomers (1946-1964) and members from Generation X (1965-1980), Millennials are used to having a wealth of information at their finger tips. They are the first generation to be fully immersed in the world of technology from an early age. Technology was never something this generation had to learn or adapt to – it was always there – which is why the expectation of technology is so prevalent among Millennials.

2. Embrace diversity

The typical “American family” does not look as it did 50 years ago. With roughly 43% of adult Millennials being non-white, America is more diverse than ever. Not to mention, with the growing number of blended and mixed families, Millennials are very accustomed to diversity. Shows such as “Modern Family” and “Fresh off the Boat” aim to appeal more to what an American family might look like today. This generation expects their employers and companies to be aware of diversity.

3. Options, options, and more options

Millennials grew up in a world where anything from toys to food was customizable. For example, the Build-A-Bear fad allowed children to completely create and design every aspect of their new toy. Burger King’s “Have It Your Way” campaign also furthers the fact that they are big fans of customization. Whether it be customizable buying options for products and services, or the opportunity to pick and choose work benefits, Millennials are drawn to and greatly appreciate the ability to pick and chose options that work best for their lifestyle.

4. They’re “green”

While Millennials can seem demanding from their technology to the desire to customize just about every aspect of their lives, they are also the most environmentally and socially conscious generation. From reusable grocery bags and an increase in healthy eating habits to electing to use bikes and public transportation instead of cars, nearly 75% of Millennials say they would be willing to pay extra for sustainable options.

5. Corporate social responsibility matters

While Millennials take it upon themselves to be environmentally conscious, they also expect companies to have high moral standards and corporate social responsibility presence. Amazon’s Smile program is a great example of this. Buyers get to choose a charity or cause of their choice to which a percentage of their purchase is donated. With 80% of Millennials expressing a higher likelihood of buying from a company supporting a cause they care about, corporate social responsibility, being environmentally conscious, and contributing to charities or various causes are all qualities Millennials look for when both working for and buying from a company.

So what?

Millennials are highly educated and have significant buying power. We are seeing a shift among many companies who are working to adjust their products, services, and marketing to better fit the Millennial mentality. While this may seem like a large project, small changes can make a big difference. For employers, consider talking to your employees and see what offerings appeal the most to them. Maybe it’s working 7-3 with no lunch break during the summer months, or offering tea, coffee, and healthy snacks in the office. For companies looking to appeal more to Millennials, make sure you try to be as customizable as possible with your offerings, make sure you have a well maintained website with a strong social media presence, and try to emphasize your charitable efforts.

From how they are attracted and retained by employers to their behaviors as consumers, organizations must realize that Millennials are a significantly different generation from their predecessors.

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