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Are you ready for a new generation of customers? Company executives, meet the Millennials. Millennials, meet XYZ company. Oops, there is a gap here.

  • Most company leaders aren’t a part of Generation Y (also known as Millennials). Generation Y is considered to be individuals born in the early 1980s to 2000s.
  • They come after Generation X.
  • Millennials represent an important emerging group of potential customers as they are also sometimes referred to as “echo boomers”. This refers to their size relative to the large group of Baby Boomers.
  • In the US, birth rates peaked in 1990. It is helpful to know that Millennials have distinctly different behaviors, values and attitudes from previous generations as a response to the technological and economic implications of the internet.

Society, technology and the digital business is evolving faster than many companies can adapt. We have to come to grips with the fact that customer landscapes are not only changing, they are evolving beyond our grasp. You and your leadership team are not dealing with customers you know and recognize. You are in fact talking to strangers.

This means that we all need to spend a lot of time understanding what is important to this evolving group of customers. Why would they want to engage with our mission? How do they make decisions? Without that level of empathy, we can’t create meaningful experiences for this emerging and important customer. This group is critical to your future employees, advocates and customers. This would be the time to start designing experiences based on their interest and behavior.

Here is some information that may be helpful in looking at these strangers known as Gen Y:

  • Seventy-three percent have earned and used virtual currency.
  • Gen Y will form about 75 percent of the workforce by 2025 and are already actively shaping corporate culture and expectations. Only 11 percent define having a lot of money as a definition of success.
  • Sixty-six percent will look up a store if they see a friend check in.
  • Start-ups dominate the work force for Gen Y’ers. Only 7 percent work for a Fortune 500 company. They expect large organizations to hear their voice and recognize their contributions. They need an “intrapreneurial” culture.
  • They are three times as likely to follow a brand over family members in social networks.
  • Millennials watch TV with two or more electronic devices.
  • Millennials trust strangers over friends and family when it comes time for purchase decisions. They value user-generated experiences heavily.
  • Twenty-nine percent find love through Facebook while 33 percent are dumped via TXT or Wall posts. (I’m not making this up)
  • Gen Y’ers believe that other consumers care more about their opinions than companies do. That is why they share their opinions online.
  • Most people on Facebook have about 240 friends. Gen Y’ers maintain about 696 friends.

We need to bridge the gap from being strangers to becoming partners.