Jeff Fromm might not be a millennial as defined by his age, but he has certainly tapped into, and defined, what the Millennial Mindset® means. In the past five years, Jeff has spent countless hours diving into research and gaining a deep understanding of modern consumer behaviors. He developed the concept of the Millennial Mindset® to define a new market of consumers that might not be millennials given the demographic description, however they still behave in a similar way and are influenced by modern trends stemming from the millennial generation.
For example, imagine the last time you went to Starbucks. Did you happen to notice the nice older lady (probably a Boomer) buying her coffee using the MyStarbucks Rewards app? This is the Millennial Mindset™ consumer in action.
To learn a little more, we sat Jeff down to pick his brain about the most commonly asked questions he receives about the Millennial Mindset® and the Millennial generation.
Leah Swartz: What is the overarching lesson we can learn from millennials?
Jeff Fromm: One thing we have seen repeatedly throughout our research is the progression from storytelling to Storyliving. The Millennial generation is a group of people who have grown up almost their whole lives with instant access to brands through the Internet and through various social channels. This means that brands can no longer expect consumers to just take their word when they say they are the best. They have to prove it.
Tesla is the perfect example of a brand excelling through Storyliving. Tesla’s mission is to create a better world driven by electric energy. While this a great statement, Tesla went a step further and released its patents to the public in an effort to fully prove to its fan its commitment to creating a more sustainable world for all consumers. Instead of telling a story, Tesla lived it.
Leah Swartz: What should we be watching for as we move into 2015?
Jeff Fromm: 2015 will prove to be another year of the millennial entrepreneur takeover. Millennials watched their stressed-out parents climb the corporate ladder and decided enough is enough. 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.
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 and even lower when we factor in the population of affluent millennials who have completed graduate school. 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.
Leah Swartz: How can brands tap into pop culture without sounding forced?
Jeff Fromm: The key here is relevancy. Too often we see brands attempting to be cool by using slang or clever hashtags and failing to get a grasp on what is really driving culture trends. Not to mention, the speed at which these trends change is almost too fast to keep up with. The goal is to know where to place your bets and understanding where you fit naturally. This stems from building a strong Brand Authority that will guide the direction of your voice, messages and cultural impact. If you try and participate in a conversation that you have no business being a part of, millennials will not be afraid to call you out on it.
Leah Swartz: How is the Millennial Mindset® redefining the way brands are connecting with consumers?
Jeff Fromm: Like I mentioned before, the Millennial Mindset® is a new way of thinking about our consumer market in general. We have seen the millennial generation have a huge impact on the way consumers are getting their information and connecting with brands. Today, there is a proliferation of choice and we are seeing a more active group of prosumers rather than passive consumers. This is due in large part to the integration of digital technology in our physical world – something that is not exclusive of age.
Imagine the last time you went grocery shopping. Did you write a list on your phone or search for coupons while you were in the cereal aisle? Target has capitalized on this trend through its Cartwheel app, which encourages customers to be active shoppers digitally while in the store physically. These trends extend beyond just the millennial generation and we are seeing consumers across the board take part.
Leah Swartz: If Millennial Mindset® consumers span different generations, how can brands connect with consumers individually?
Jeff Fromm: When we talk about the Millennial Mindset®, there are five key drivers: Purpose, Experience, Discovery, Community and Innovation. Each of these drivers connects with consumers through different opportunities. The goal is to find where your brand has the most untapped potential and start there. Although the Millennial Mindset® describes a broad consumer group, it is important to remember that creating personalized experiences will be the key point of differentiation between your brand and the next.
We are also seeing a shift from marketing based on demographics to marketing based on need states. Rather than targeting a person based on their presumed needs correlating to their age and assumed stage in life, need state targeting is a concept that appeals to an audience based on their particular consumer needs at any given point in time. A 30-year-old today may be working hard to become financially stable and establish a career despite the fact that based on the average demographic data their age dictates that they should be focusing on raising a family. This is especially true for Boomers as the average age for retirement is steadily increasing and behaviors that are often associated with older age are no longer the norm.