Millennial trends and how to market to them

You’ve heard the word for months now, hundreds, if not millions of times: Millennials.The implications are seemingly endless; everybody has an opinion on this emerging demographic. Most commonly, Millennials are self-absorbed and think everyone on the team should get a trophy and A+ for effort. Also, Millennials are digital and socialmedia addicts, too immersed in their cellphones to connect with other people. Millennials can’t make a decision without getting everyone’s input. Blah, blah, blah.
But is all of this true? AMA Atlanta weighed in at a recent Signature Luncheon, titled Millennials in the Workplace, a panel discussion by IBM’s Institute for Business Value(IBM IBV). The experts we’ll cite include: IBM Global Research Leader Carolyn Baird,Bob Van Rossum of MarketPro, and Emily Binder of Budget.
To illustrate the trends with this demographic, we’ll now take you through 5 Millennial myths, some uncomfortable truths, and finally recommendations!

Myth 1: Millennials have different career goals, and expectations, than those of older generations.

Some facts to debunk this myth:

  • 18% of Millennials, 18% of Generation X, 18% of Baby Boomers desire to become senior leaders.
  • 25% of Millennials, 21% of Generation X, 23% of Baby Boomers want to make a positive impact on their organizations.

The takeaway: Millennials have same career goals and expectations as older generations. They also value the same qualities, like performance-based recognition and inspirational leadership. Myth debunked!

Myth 2: Millennials want constant praise and think everyone on the team should get a trophy.


  • 64% of Generation X employees think every member of a successful team should be rewarded, whereas 55% of Millennials feel this way.

The takeaway: For Millennials, requiring that a boss recognize their accomplishments was not ranked as importantly as wanting a boss who is transparent, shares information, and is dependable and consistent. These statistics matched Generation X and Baby Boomer responses. Myth debunked!

Myth 3: Millennials are digital addicts, constantly online, and have no respect for personal or professional boundaries.


  • Only 7% of Baby Boomers maintain separation between personal and professional social interactions versus 27% of Millennials.
  • Millennials’ top three learning methods for acquiring work-related knowledge are primarily face-to-face tactics: attend third party event (39%), in-person classroom training (37%), and working with colleagues (36%).
  • Generation X uses personal social media accounts at work more frequently than other generations. For example, 62% of Generation X use a personal account to market organizational promotions vs. 54% of Millennials.

The takeaway: Millennials feel more comfortable with learning online and accessing online resources than their older counterparts, but they are more than willing to interact face-to-face. Myth debunked!

Myth 4: Millennials can’t make a decision without first inviting everyone to weigh in.


  • More than half of Millennials (56%) and Generation Xers (64%) believe they make better business decisions with a variety of input from others versus 49% of Baby Boomers.
  • More than half of Millennials (55%) and Generation Xers (61%) value group consensus versus 39% of Baby Boomers.
  • More than half of Millennials (53%) and Generation Xers (57%) consider organizational leaders to be the most qualified to make decisions versus 41% of Baby Boomers.

The takeaway: Millennials are no more likely than colleagues from different generations to solicit advice at work. If anything, Baby Boomers are the outliers, which makes it difficult for them to transition into a collaborative work culture. Myth debunked!
Furthermore, to quote Emily’s thoughts on the topic: “Collaboration is a means towards productivity. Unnecessary meetings and never-ending email threads intended to ‘keep everyone in the loop’ incorporate everyone, but in actuality are not productive. This can be a hard thing to shake even for the most innovative of companies.”

Myth 5: Millennials more likely to jump ship if a job doesn’t fulfill their passions.


  • 75% of Millennials have held their current position for three years or more.
  • An average of 45% of all employees, across generations, change jobs to enter the “fast lane.” (Millennials- 42%, Gen X- 47%, Baby Boomers- 42%)

The takeaway: Age cannot be the only determinant in a career switch, and Millennials weigh and consider progress just as heavily as older colleagues. Myth debunked!
Now for some uncomfortable truths…
1. Many employees aren’t sure they understand the organization’s business strategy, Baby Boomers more so than others.

  • Almost half of all respondents claim their leaders don’t clearly communicate their vision or expectations.
  • Generation Xers overrate how well they instill confidence and recognize accomplishments, yet a majority of leaders are Generation Xers (35%) versus 26% of Millennials and 22% of Baby Boomers.

2. All three generations think the customer experience is poor.

  • But, a majority think their organization uses social media well to engage the consumer: Millennials and Generation X 65%, Baby Boomers 56%
  • Employees have embraced the tech revolution, but their enterprises are slow to implement new applications.
  • Only 4% of respondents claim their organization has no issues implementing new tech.
  • 72% of employees worry about new technologies impacting current customer experience.


1. Focus on the individual, not generated stereotypes
2. Foster a collaborative culture
3. Make customer experience a priority
4. Leaders should look within for strengths and weaknesses
5. Get everyone on board
Millennials are stepping up to take their places in business, and that means change for the good.
That about wraps it up. Would love to hear your thoughts!Remember: Go download the IBM study in its entirety, here!
Image with thanks

headshot121Written by Object9’s Steffan Pedersen who is a digital marketing manager at Object 9, a marketing communications and advertising agency. He resides in Atlanta, Georgia, but grew up in Denmark and remains a bilingual dual-citizen. Steffan attended the University of Georgia and is an avid Bulldawg fan, as well as a Manchester United supporter and soccer fanatic. You’ll often catch him playing footy on the dry, harsh pitches around Atlanta, going for nutmegs and upper 90 shots. The Original post can be seen on the Object 9 site – keep up to date with them on twitter @Object9 or on Facebook. Connect with Steffan via Twitter @steffanpedersen