We have seen the emergence of a completely digitally dependent generation take shape over the past decade. That generation, the Millennials, have reshaped our consumer market so that now, we are more connected, more engaged and more “on” than we have ever been in the past. Brands exist everywhere, not just in our TVs or on our radios, but in our networks, as one of our ‘friends’. This rapid growth of the intersection between digital and consumer culture has fueled a more resourceful generation of employees that are rebelling against the traditional standards of the workplace and creating their own business opportunities propelling them into the c-suite of major brands and organizations.
Why are these young adults gaining such a major influence in our economy as the CEOs and leaders of major brands? Millennials have the entrepreneurial bug.
Despite the high risk that comes with starting a business, (more than 99 percent of startups that seek funding inevitably fail) millennials watched their stressed-out parents climb the corporate ladder and decided that did not want to follow the same linear path. As digital natives, millennials have grown up with the mindset that if they want something, all they have to do is get online and access the right resources to make it happen – and they are letting that same mindset guide them in the workplace. If a millennial cannot find what they are looking for in a job, career or business that already exists, they are tapping into their resources and creating something completely new. According to research conducted by Buzz Marketing Group, one in five millennials plan to quit their job and start a business.
This entrepreneurial mindset is especially true for affluent millennials, a subset of the generation with an annual household income of more than $100k. In the past, affluence was typically linked to higher education and master or graduate programs. The conventional wisdom was the more degrees you had, the more likely you were to have a higher income. While this is still true today, millennials are quickly beginning to shift this mindset.
When conducting research for our latest report, Money Matters, we found that although graduation rates are high among the affluent millennial population, graduate school attendance for affluent millennials was significantly lower than what it was for affluent adults from previous generations (index 74). This is potentially a result of the entrepreneurial spirit of many millennials who have the means and the desire to explore options outside of college. As an entrepreneurial generation, these young adults are more interested in putting the knowledge gained in their undergraduate programs to use in the workforce.
Beyond just the workplace, this entrepreneurial mindset is affecting the way affluent millennials are connecting with their favorite brands. Just like their careers, millennials are taking their brand journeys into their own hands. Instead of looking for brands to hold their hands throughout a purchase decision, affluent millennials prefer brands to take a hands-off approach, guiding them only when necessary. Brands need to identify the points of contact where affluent millennials can’t do it all on their own and guide them to make the right decision based on their individual lifestyle.
Millennials are quickly changing the way we behave in the market and their entrepreneurial spirit is a major influence on their consumer behavior. In order to engage entrepreneurial millennials you must:
1. Give them opportunities to create something on their own
2. Do not be involved in every step of the consumer journey, give them the space and the resources to find your brand organically
3. Give support but do not be overbearing
4. Align with the entrepreneurial mindset by embracing the shop local, startup mindset
5. Give them something they can believe in and act on