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4 millennial trends that should matter to you

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Many businesses today, including big name brands, are targeting Gen Y consumers (ages 18-31). Comcast has created a special cable package for these digital natives. Macy’s has partnered with Ryan Seacrest to get millennial men to suit up, and Volkswagen teamed up with Apple for the iBeetle in order to put more millennials in the driver’s seat.

Why the Gen Y focus? The 80 million millennials in the U.S. are estimated to spend about $600 billion every year, according to Accenture research. By the year 2020, millennials are projected to spend $1.4 trillion annually and comprise 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. That means millennials are your customers, business partners and employees – if not today, then probably tomorrow.

If you’ve shifted your focus to this giant generation or are planning to tap into the millennial market, here are four trends to consider:



1. Customization

Millennials have grown up in a customization nation. Think Build-A-Bear Workshop, personalized Nikes and over-the-top Starbucks orders. It’s only natural that millennials expect customization at pretty much every turn. Think about how you can offer any degree of customization or flexibility with products and services offered to consumers, including employee benefits plans.


2. Work-site 

Millennials prefer to buy life and disability insurance either through their place of employment or directly from an insurance company, according to The Hartford’s latest Gen Y survey. These options topped buying the same coverage through a government exchange. I believe employees see value in their employer finding benefits that fit together in a cohesive plan. This is a point to consider with your employer clients when discussing the value of voluntary benefits.


3. Integration 

Millennials are hard-wired to search the web before making a decision or purchase, according to the U.S. News & World Report‘s 2014 Millennial Report. Every company should have a website with information designed for millennials. An even better option would be a website that includes user-generated content, such as reviews similar to those on Amazon or Yelp, so that millennials can see what others think. However, don’t ignore IRL (“in real life,” as a millennial would say). Millennials still value in-person advice from a mentor-like advisor, as long as it is someone who can be reached by text, social media or phone call.


4. Adulthood 

Millennials are getting married later in life than any other generation, according to the Pew Research Center. In fact, The Hartford’s research discovered a millennial’s first job is replacing marriage as the first milestone in adulthood. You can help millennials understand that their first job is a great time to protect their paycheck with disability and life insurance. Protecting their own potential is just as important as protecting a loved one.

While I’ve described these as millennials trends, you will not alienate other generations if you create strategies related to them. Like their other co-workers, Xers and boomers value customized products, online enrollment and digital education resources that allow them to make informed benefit choices and help protect their family income.

If you’re ready to reach Gen Y, take a page out of the big brands’ playbook and team up with a business partner that is already tapping into these trends. Millennials are no longer the employees and customers of tomorrow; they are very much our today, too.