My, how time flies. The first of those supposedly entitled, unmotivated, lazy, technology obsessed, video-game-playing upstarts we call “millennials” are now into their mid-thirties. To the surprise of Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, the majority of them are growing up not only as responsible hard working adults, but a generational powerhouse that is not to be ignored. The millennials are now 25% of the population and are expected to spend $2.45 trillion this year alone. According to a University of Wisconsin study, 85 percent of millennials are either working or in school.
At the same time, it is NO surprise to the older generation that these millennials are different in their core make-up of how they think, operate and view life. They seek out information and make decisions very differently than previous generations. So, it’s important that we don’t use the same methods to reach and influence them as we’ve used to reach “their elders.” We need to adapt our buyer personas and take a serious look at including them in the mix of our content marketing strategy now.
Who are the millennials?
In the broad sense, millennials were born after 1980, and are defined as being between the ages of 18 and 34. They’ve grown up with ever-increasing technology at the core of their lives. From Nintendo 64 to WiiU, the “World Wide Web” to social media, the digital age is part of the very fabric of who they are. They are visually inspired and seek to make a difference. They are undergirding and fueling the new wave of social-conscious living and socially active companies that have been on the rise these past few years.
Google has recently addressed this generation, debunking many myths about millennials and giving us insight into what makes up their buyer personas, saying: “By the time millennials joined the workforce, half of all Americans were using email regularly, BlackBerrys had been on the market for several years and search engines were already a part of daily life. In other words, millennials are digital natives.”
With a cautious view of “big business,” millennials are treading the corporate waters cautiously. In a recent study by UNC, millenials prioritized "meaningful work" over higher pay and 70% said they will change jobs when the economy improves. Seeing an emptiness in sacrificing their lives for a career, they are figuring out how to balance work and play while at the same time being productive and successful.
A generation of influencers
Although few have reached the level of being final decision makers in the B2B world, they have a greater influence than you may have thought. Because they are known for being tech wizards, social media savvy and in-the-know of current and rising trends, executives are bringing them into the decision making process from the beginning.
In a recent Hubspot blog, Debbie Williams, Sprout Content’s co-founder, pointed out that almost half of all B2B researchers are millennials: “Google noted that even just a few years ago, in 2012, the age demographics of B2B buyers were fairly evenly spread across generations. In 2014, that shifted by 70% with almost half of all B2B researchers falling into the 18-34-year-old category.”
Often in B2B marketing, we put all our energies into reaching the final decision maker, while missing the fact that it’s equally (if not more) important to connect with the influencers … the ones who have the ear of the C-suite executives.
What their persona might look like
Millennials are always connected as verified from research by social-influence marketing platform Crowdtap that revealed individuals ages 18 to 36 spend almost 18 hours a day with different types of media. This constant connectivity makes it easy for millennials to voice their feedback and opinions via social media. Because of their ability to spread the word farther and faster than any other generation, this makes them especially influential in the business world.
So what might a millennial buyer persona look like? As with all personas, a good start is to look at what motivates them. They want a well-rounded life between work, family and community. They require authenticity. Don’t try to simply sell to them; you must establish a relationship first. Also, keep in mind that millennials do their research and put a high value on ratings and personal reviews, whether it be a simple personal product purchase or deciding whether they will support a company as a whole.
But once they believe in your company, they will be your greatest advocate. Look at Apple as an example. For the millennials who use their products, it seems that Apple can do no wrong, no matter what issues they might be working through.
Now that you know more about this generation, ask yourself whether your buyer personas connect to them? Get more information about buyer personas in our free download Buyer Personas: Marketing through the Voice of your Buyer.