According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the millennial generation, numbering 80 million, is now the largest generation in the U.S. By 2017, their purchasing power will eclipse that of the boomer generation, but the sheer size of the millennial generation is not the reason you should focus on them. You should focus on them because they look at the world differently than do previous generations and have alternatives due to our on-demand, tech-savvy world.
The simple fact of life in 2014 is that technology is changing everything. Instant quotes, 24/7 support, free apps and the ability to tell the world how you feel about any given topic is changing behavior and expectations.
While technology is playing a significant role in how we purchase products, economic factors and life experiences are shaping this generation as it has every previous generation. Millennials have come of age during the “Great Recession.” Many watched their parents lose jobs and even a significant portion of their retirement. The environment they grew up in is changing the way they think and behave compared to previous generations.
They also came of age during a time when the cost of college skyrocketed and student debt hit an all time high. Just this past May, 70 percent of college seniors graduated with an average student loan debt of $33,000. The financial challenges the millennial generation face are immense and they need your help and your products.
While it may seem like this generation may not be profitable, think again. The past economic crisis and current debt burden are causing this generation to focus more on their finances and how to achieve financial goals much earlier than previous generations. According to Time magazine, “70 percent of millennials started saving for retirement at an unprecedented young age of just 22 years old. By contrast, the average boomer began saving at age 35, while Gen X’ers got started at 27.”
This is important because if you do not make an effort to reach them, someone else will. Thirty years ago, the local bank or broker was competing in a fishbowl within a specific geographic area. If you wanted insurance or a bank account, you had to interact with someone to open an account. Technology has become the disruptor. Companies like Lending Club, Ally Bank, Simple and many more have made it possible to reach anyone, anywhere, anytime.
The millennial generation is comfortable with and prefers this new dynamic. In fact, a study by Zogby Analytics found that more than one-third of their millennial respondents said they have made a decision on where to spend money or switched companies based on what the organization allowed users to accomplish with a mobile device.
If you don’t believe in the millennial generation and don’t have a strategy to connect with this rising class, you don’t believe in your own future. What are you doing to stand out in the minds of this generation? Are you meeting their needs? Understanding their perspective and then leveraging new technologies and communication tools to engage and service them should be a priority, if it hasn’t been already.