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Why Millennials Run the Business World

Written by on June 14, 2016

In the last few years, millennials have gotten a bad rap for being lazy, narcissistic, and disrespectful. We’re so used to looking down on that generation that we sometimes miss a very important point:

Millennials run the business world.

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Yes, millennials—that tech-savvy generation best known for ironic beards and sunglasses—are a valuable group that should be studied and respected instead of ridiculed.

Why, you ask? Well, here are the top 3 reasons why millennials are shaping the business world—and why you’d better take note.

1. They think differently

Millennials have a different way of thinking about the world

Also known as Generation Y, millennials—born between 1980-2000—generally grew up in a connected world. Gen Y is actually a fitting name because millennials are the most likely to question the fundamentals of the world we grew up in.

They’re not traditional in any sense—they’re exposed to so much new and different information that it changes the way they think.

All information is accessible at the touch of their fingers and they use those fingers to constantly feed themselves more and wider information.  In fact, they’re so connected that they’re always connected, and always connected means always updated.

This enables them to see everything in a vast, large and interconnected light, and probably faster than other generations. In fact, their upbringing causes them to go about their problem-solving in a way that incorporates more than one field, usually with the help of technology.

For a business to survive, it needs to cater to millennials

I’m not talking here only about social networking. I’m talking about Uber and Lyft, about Airbnb. Those two fundamental traditions of our society, taxi cabs and hotels, have been disrupted in such a way that they’re causing riots in almost every country that depends on them.

Millennials have an irreverent way of looking at tradition, always questioning, always prodding, always trying to figure out—how does it work, and why can’t it work better?

With a spending power of a trillion dollars in 2015, millennials should be the main focus of any enterprising business, especially with an increasingly competitive market and older models becoming obsolete.

2. They work differently

Millennials are changing they way they work

Millennials are moving away from the sacred 9-to-5 workday, which can sometimes be an ineffective mixture of work, time-consuming tasks, and downtime.

Although they also have flexible time schedules and work from home, millennials are overwhelmingly moving towards freelance work. According to a study by the Freelancers Union, 53 million Americans, or 34% of all working Americans, are currently self-employed, contributing an estimated $715 billion to the US economy.

But it’s not restricted just to Americans. Europeans are on a similar trend: freelancers now make up the fastest growing group in the European labor market, having increased 45% from 6.2 million to 8.9 million in 2013.

So why such a rush to self-employment? The answer could be a shift in how the different generations think about work.

Tip:  The freelance market can be great for small and medium-sized businesses that can get highly-skilled workers for lower pay. Even better, they now have less risk in trying new ideas because of the shorter work contracts.

The previous generations generally saw work as work—a clock-in, clock-out procedure that allowed you to feed your family and pay off your mortgage. The real joy came from good colleagues and a steady supply of income.

Millennials are more interested in finding fulfillment in their work. They’re not just interested in money, which is still a priority, but in finding true satisfaction in their profession.

According to the 2012 Freelance Industry Report, the top two reasons that millennials are driven to freelancing are that they want to have the freedom in setting their own schedules and to pursue their passions.

The premium they set on their happiness in their work, combined with their tendency to think differently and uniquely, is the cause for their generational shift to freelancing.

3. They consume differently…in the same way

Millennials make purchases in an eco-friendly way

That trillion-dollar figure I mentioned above isn’t just a one-off sum. Millennials are set to become the consistent major spenders and consumers in the world. By 2017, according to a Bazaar Voice survey, they are expected to have the greatest spending power of any age group.

So how do they consume? Remember, millennials live in an always-on, connected global community, and this has bled into their shopping habits.

Besides being more likely to shop online, millennials are also strongly dependent on the opinions and reviews of others—so much that 84% browse through many company websites and comment sections before making purchases.

Tip:  For businesses that depend on online purchases, this means that having great reviews with customer quotes and feedback is very important in order to catch the millennial customer. If they don’t see any consumer input, they probably won’t buy it.

Furthermore, millennials—again, because of their global tendencies—are usually very concerned about the well-being of the world.

You can see this with Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg’s pledge to donate 99% of their shares to various charities—$45 billion at current valuation, making it one of the largest donations in history.

But it’s not just for the big names. Achieve’s Millennial Impact Report showed that a staggering 84% of American millennials donated to charity and 70% spent at least one hour volunteering.

This is a generation that seems to live to give back, who are considerate of global events and the environment, and are therefore more willing to shop around for organic or eco-friendly products—a whopping 75% of global respondents—even if it costs a bit more.

Tip:  Businesses that can focus on similar ideas—green, organic, a-percentage-donated-to-charity—will be able to grow their market share and increase brand loyalty.

But the best thing is that millennials are becoming the same all over. With the spread of social media, globalization and Western culture, their identities and ideologies are beginning to blend across the globe.

This definitely makes for an interesting academic study, but what this means for businesses is that they don’t have to adapt their products and services greatly across borders.

Tip:  Instead of having to change the color, shape, and wording of your goods and spending a lot on marketing research, businesses can create one product or service and it’ll be effective in almost any market.

Aren’t millennials great?

There are a few important things to remember about millennials:

  • They exist in a world separate from the previous generations.
  • They are connected to each other across borders by ideological and ethical ties.
  • They consider themselves part of the moving world, a larger community that has their best interest at heart.
  • They value the opinions of others, and are skeptical and loyal to brands at the same time.
  • They have no love for tradition, and they genuinely believe that technology can solve the problems of the world.

Millennials aren’t here to change for the world, they’re here to change the world itself. And for the well-being of business, we’d all better respect that.

What are your thoughts on millennials? Do you think they’re the future of the business world, or are they just over-hyped? Let us know in the comments below!

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