The Millennials and Future of Social Business

Technically, on-paper, by birth, I’m a “Gen-Y”. We were born from between 1976 – 81 and until “around 2001” (it’s a bit blurry).  We are the millennials, echo boomers, generation next, generation net, and the list goes on.

Just for reference, a few things changed between 1976 and 2001.  Mamma Mia to Hogwarts.





According to numerous online sources, being a part of Gen-Y means:

  1. I’m impatient
  2. Un-manageable in the workplace and need recognition
  3. I don’t save money
  4. I live in the moment

And by some resounding good measure…

       5.  I’m savvy online

Generations are a way of order & definition in the world of human sociology.  This became extremely prevalent in the advertising field when we began to focus on consumer marketing.  What is the idea/product/good that will appeal to a particular group of people?

Enter online.

It’s like a speed-of-light worm hole that instantly shifts how we interact with the world.

We are inherently now built to search, react and share.    

Categorizing generations has always proved difficult, but MTV recently released a fantastic study called Maximizing Millenials – Managing Gen Y in the Workplace.  

We’ll get to that later.  Before we do, there is something I need to clear the air on:

Generational Definitions From GEN-Y Onwards Are Useless!

This ain’t your previous generations.

From the 1900 onwards, generations were all pretty clear cut.  Prior to X, Y & Z, generations were defined by characteristics.  They were the lost generation (pre WWI), the greatest generation (veterans of WWII), and the silent generation (baby boomers).  Men went off to war; women took care of the kids.  After the war, people made babies.  Those babies turned into hippies.  The hippie’s kids wanted to “have it all”.

So, what’s been the biggest event marking a generation?  A depression, war, economy, globalization?

80% of what people talk about online didn’t exist 5 years ago

– Helge Tenno, the next 80%

Online has changed how we interact, think & live – all intertwined with major events.

So, my question to GEN-Y is, do you remember life without online?

I got my first email account (which I still have) in grade 6, and downloaded my first song on Napster when I was 20.  I had one course my final year of Uni about ‘researching on the internet’.   Last year I was asked by someone 5 years my younger “What is a FA-SEAL-LA-MAY” (facsimile).  My 15 year old cousin (same generation) has always used online to complete his school work.

I am really the same generation to someone who doesn’t know the world without Google, smart phones and Facebook?

Gen-Z has just been defined (and still growing).  Could there be something next year…month…week to define a new way of living?

Maybe it’s time for a new definition.


MTV Study, What Have You Got!

MTV, the network that brought music to life and defined a generation.

Although I would go to say, you can’t categorize a generation we can’t truly define – I think MTV has really nailed this study.  It’s not focused on stereotypes & generalization, but more about shaping the future of business.

MTV points out; “Millennials are the world’s single biggest consumer group. At a time of unprecedented technological change… there is a big opportunity for brands to maximise the value of Millennials both in the workplace and as consumers.”

Chris Hirst, chief executive of Grey London points out that Gen Y’s have grown up in a world in which they are constantly asked their opinion, so they expect the same from brands and within the workplace. ‘When you can get a real-time response from Cheryl Cole you can’t then separate these expectations when you enter the workplace.’

True that boss.  Justin Bieber responded to my tweet, so you better recongise!

The Millennials’ hate to be ignored.  There is no differentiating this between being a consumer and being a co-worker.

Andrew Creighton, chief exec of VICE magazine points out: “Millennials’ aspirations no longer centre on owning the biggest, fastest or shiniest product. Flexibility, generosity, experiences and stories are all new forms of social currency that are as attractive, if not more so, for some customers”.

Kenan Flagler Business School has put together an infographic highlighting some key takeouts.

What’s great about this study is that it recognizes that the generation we are trying to understand as consumers are eventually the ones that will be driving the shape of the marketing world.

Tipping the Balance

By 2020, there will be 2.4 BILLION Millenial consumers.

They will comprise of nearly half of the American workforce.

So, how do you market to and work with Gen-Y?

Easy – change the world.

A recent McKinsey report points out that:  the underlying principles – transparency, radical inclusion and egalitarianism – and peer review of the web-based social technologies make it possible to open up corporate strategy.


Gen-Y barely knows who said ‘greed is good’.   They are looking to interact, buy AND work for those corporations working for the better good of society.

That poses two big thoughts for marketers:

  1. How will you work to find your greater good
  2. Gen Y are becoming your co-workers and your competitors (and they know better…)



This all sounds close to our hearts here at FRANk.  We will look back one day and know that Gen-Y was the spawn the Social Business…and the new definition of a generation.

Saving the world: So Gen-Y of me.

copyright FRANk Media 2018