Size: 71 million / 22% of the population / projected to surpass Baby Boomers as the largest generation by 2020
This post is part of our series on the ways that Utility Customer Relationship Management affects customer engagement. Because they serve people of all ages, utility messaging needs to be multigenerational.
Millennials grew up with unprecedented access to technology like computers and mobile devices. They witnessed the rise of the internet as children and of social media as either children or young adults. Important events during their young adulthood include:
Even a quick glance at Wikipedia’s timelines for the 20th and 21st centuries shows three major themes: computing, terrorism, and environmental and social issues. Millennials saw at least two oil spills and one nuclear disaster widely covered: the Exxon Valdez oil spill, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and the Japanese Fukushima nuclear disaster. They grew up with Oklahoma City and September 11 terrorist attacks in popular consciousness. And they had unprecedented access to digital technology from their earliest years — with portable devices, the Internet, and the World Wide Web dating to the earliest childhood of even the oldest members of the generation.
Perhaps not surprisingly given events during Millennials’s early lives. They were raised by late Baby Boomers and early Gen Xers at a time when popular parenting wisdom urged more involvement protection, and caution about self esteem — including everyone gets a trophy. In contrast to the latch key Generation X, their parents were very involved and protective.
Like the Early Baby Boomers, this generation is motivated by causes. They started Occupy protests, for instance. As this might imply, they don’t have automatic respect for authority, but they do respect authority figures at work in addition to ones who align with their causes. They are more connected than any prior generation via technology especially mobile and social media. And they sometimes even describe themselves as impatient due to this instant gratification.
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Like Generation X, Millennials feel a tremendous amount of financial pressure and, as recent backlash to an article about retirement savings illustrates, Millennials have not reacted positively to messages about saving for retirement. While it is unlikely that a utility would even want to do either of these things, it is wise to use care with phrasing and choices of visual media — which are subject to different interpretations by different audiences.
Where Baby Boomers coined the term mid-life crises, many Millennials are experiencing, or have experienced, a quarter-life crisis due to the stresses of transition to adulthood. As British author and marketing consultant, Simon Sinek has famously said, they are more exposed than ever to their friends’ filtered presentation of their lives via social media, to an overwhelming amount of choice about life and seem to be finding transition from a childhood of unprecedented shelter to an adulthood of that is less stable than their parents more stressful than previous generations.