Here is a simple take.
We are The Nintendo Generation. Our fondest early childhood memories were with the original NES. Our elementary years were spent on the Super Nintendo. In high school, weekend N64 tournaments were neighborhood events.
We started playing PC games on Windows 98, and were among the first to enter into the world of online multiplayer gaming.
We were fresh in college, migrating from Myspace to Facebook, when the first iPhone came out.
We have been tech-dependent since elementary school, when we traded the Dewey decimal system for a digital catalogue.
Once upon a time, we were referred to as Generation Y. At some point we were relabeled “Millennials.”
The term itself has become a near universally recognizable meme (using Richard Dawkins’ definition of a cultural gene), spurring over a decade’s worth of internet memes (you know, funny text-pictures), ranging from lazy and entitled Millennials still living with their parents to Millennial stupidity and incompetence (remember the TidePod controversy?).
While Millennials were taking the brunt of over-hyped inter-generational jokes, marketers were scrambling to understand this new consumer culture and the digital climate that had rapidly emerged.
A 2011 article encapsulated the collective stigma that previous generations have held about Millennials: that we were young adults with little-to-no savings and still living at home with our parents.
Yet, we were still virtually connected and “comfortable with technology.” And it was through these connections that advertisers had to learn how to navigate in order to reach us digitally-dependent Millennials.
Well, the 2010 decade has come to an end, and still the Millennial meme (back to Dawkins) of broke, young adults endures.
It isn’t 2011 anymore.
Millennials are now entering their 30’s. We are adulting. Let that sink in.
No longer are we lazily scrolling Instagram on our parents’ couches, we are now doing so from the comforts of our own homes.
Yes, many of us are now starting families and becoming homeowners.
The myriad of economic factors that contributed to our relatively slow crawl into the real estate game are another matter entirely, however Millennials’ digital behaviors are changing how our and future generations approach the home-buying process.
But it’s not just homes, nearly every industry is having to adapt to shifting consumer tastes and technological innovations.
The food and restaurant industry has experienced a particularly powerful shake-up in recent years.
For many familiar chains, survival has depended on rebranding of aesthetics, messaging, menu options, and more.
When Subway announced their rebranding plans in 2017, they stated that in order to remain relevant their new design needed to be simple, sleek, and “more inviting…more technologically savvy.”
These industry shake-ups aren’t just in response to Millennial consumer tastes, but are largely owed to the fact that the Nintendo Generation is overtaking the workforce.
More than our influence as employees in existing work spaces, we are on track (with the Gen Z-ers right behind us) to become the largest segment of small business owners.
Millennial entrepreneurs are infusing tech-dependence, socially-conscious ideals, and a desire to reshape traditional company culture into innovative trends of business ownership.
Appealing to the now-30-yr-old Millennial consumer (and small business owner) is not that complicated. Having an active social media or digital marketing campaign targeting 28-35 year olds is not enough to win our business.
Understanding our generational values and mindset is critical in creating a brand and crafting your message in a way that resonates with us.
Basically, speak our language.
- We are tech-dependent. Much of our lives have been spent engaging with digital processes, and we gravitate towards those brands that incorporate digital tech into their sales funnel to some degree.
- We are socially-conscious. Our world isn’t perfect, but we actively take steps in order to minimize harmful impacts upon our environment – including from which brands we choose to (not) buy.
- We value flexibility. Autonomy over our work/life balance, with less adherence to traditional company structure is huge to us. It is an ideal that we quickly connect with in brands that share this same value.
For older generations of marketers, it is essential that you understand how to relate and communicate with Millennials today. Ready or not, Gen Z is becoming adult age, and I will give you a future marketing tip: they don’t care about traditional social media as much as we did (it’s all about gaming for them).
Now, if you will excuse me, I have a saved Super Mario 3 NES rom slate I need to reload into my Nintendo emulator.
Adam Mahan is a contributor to the ThriveFuel blog. Adam has 15 years of experience in digital telecommunications and media, working with Fortune 500 companies as well as digital marketing agency start-ups.