A Simple Lesson for 2018- Millennials Aren’t Playing

photo by: Zachary Nelson

While hosting an inter-generational conversation with millennials this past year, I asked a panel of millennial artists what they thought of my generation (generation x) and the generations before me. A young man looked at me sympathetically and said, “I think your generation is willing to give up a lot for work and money. My parents have worked hard most of their life and are still struggling, so I am going to do what I want and if I struggle, at least I’ll be happy”.

His observation made me swallow hard, as I thought about the money I’ve spent on therapy looking for permission to be happy or the years I have spent working for change, just to see Nazi’s march across America the same year I turned 40. It’s no secret that millennials are bringing a different value structure to America and they are deconstructing social norms and have no problem connecting economics to their values.

  • The millennial generation is the largest in history, representing $600 billion in spending opportunity. By 2020, this demographic will spend $1.4 trillion per year.
  • According to Forbes millennials expect brands to give back to society, 75% said that it’s either fairly or very important that a company gives back to society instead of just making a profit
  • According to the Census, millennials are more diverse than the generations that preceded them, with 44.2 percent being part of a minority race or ethnic group (that is, a group other than non-Hispanic, single-race white).

Its obvious millennials have observed our lives and want something different, it’s also obvious corporate America doesn’t seem to grasp the nuance of millennials approach. Uber’s tone deafness in 2017 first quarter alone had them in the headlines as anti immigrant, anti woman and anti worker costing the CEO his job and over half a million Uber riders jump to Lyft. Pepsi had pull the tone deaf Kendall Jenner ad and ultimately had to issue a public apology as did Dove for their attempt at an inclusive ad.

2017 protests, hashtags and boycotts show millennials aren’t playing they are pushing us to evolve, and there is no evidence that will slow down in 2018. Millennials are changing America and the question is are you going to be able to keep up or will you be the next hashtag?