Image from: Eastsideonline.org
The millennial generation – who are they?
They are the generation between 1981 and 1997. Which means that this generation is now between the ages ages of 20 and 36. They are possibly the most hated generation, but why?
Millennials have a reputation for valuing individuality, authenticity and political correctness. They are criticised for being easily distracted, creative, civic minded and extremely narcissistic. They are known as the generation are entitled. But what does this mean in terms of business?
The millennial generation is making up a huge percentage of the population of our workforce and our spending population. Despite the opinions of the older generation, this generation is the biggest part of our population and it’s shaping our society in a significant way. The way they value authenticity and individuality means that the products that they choose to buy have to have some kind of ethical purpose to their spending. The mass consumer attitude fo the previous generation has made the millennials believe that mass spending has damaged the world in a serious way, and they aren’t wrong. Mass production of plastics, the value on making as much as possible for the lowest value which has lead to outsourcing to the East, which is most of the time extremely unethical and dangerous.
Image from: heron.org
This new generation is the driving force behind a kinder approach to business. Research has shown that millennials would rather pay a higher price for something that is ethically sourced, rather than buy something simply because it is cheaper. At first we saw businesses develop that have an ehtical purpose to their business when they started, such as TOMs the footware company that has a One for One programme that helps someone in need every time you purchase something. With the growing popularity of companies that have a very similar business model to this one, it changed the behaviour of other companies as well. We started to see that companies would make sure that they had a ‘transparency’ policy for their supply chain, and would try and show how their company serves a purpose other than to make money. Companies had to change themselves to be able to retain the majority of the market.
At this point you may be thinking, but what about Primark and other companies like this? The key thing here is that there is a kind of line, if Primark matched the average price per item in other shops on the market then it would not have survived as long as it has. Primark is so cheap, that people go there despite the dodgy ethics behind it. It’s almost as if at some point they are able to forgive the misgivings of the company for the benefit of the low price. I think this is a shame, and if people stopped buying there for a month then they would have to change the way they operate to be able to survive. Then again, I do shop there myself. But I’m a student, and sometimes you just can’t afford to have ethics when you need new underwear. Despite all this, Primark does make effort to ensure that they do run some form of green initiative, despite their bad reputation.
Image from: primark.com
As a consumer it is quite clear to see how this attitude has changed the way that companies operate, especially in the food sector. With the push towards vegan, farm to table and plastic free big super markets are trying to start initiatives that really sell this eco friendly perspective. For example, Lidls has lowered it’s price on loose vegetables so that people buy veggies without all the plastic packaging. Tesco, one of the biggest UK supermarkets, has made a green pledge. The vow to make themselves a “leader in helping to create a low-carbon economy” and have released a collection of different green initiatives that will help them compete with the smaller markets that are taking quite a big percentage of their customer base. I wish that everyone could afford to buy from these eco friendly independent markets that sell local, fresh and beautiful food. Unfortunately this is not the case, and it’s actually cheaper to buy heavily processed, heavily packaged and food that’s full or preservatives. Which means that only middle class (and up) families can afford to live well, which just really seems the wrong way around to me. The involvement of bigger companies in government is scary when you get down to it, which is why rich get healthier and the poor get, well, poorer.
I live in absolute hope that this will change as the millennial generation gets older and controls more companies, gets into more managerial roles and being able to implement their generational eco friendly perspective. This seems to make sense to me, but maybe it’s a bit of an idealistic point of view. Maybe that’s a feature of my own generation. Who knows! There is so much to explore in this cross generational area, and the social impacts that each generation has is incredible! For example, Gen X that came before the millennials were knows for being completely resistant to the normal form of marketing. This was cold calling, informational newspaper adverts and television adverts that were quite dry and informational as well. Gen X seemed to be completely disinterested in these forms of advertisement, and were not afraid, unlike the baby boomers before them, to hang up the phone to anyone who called and tried to sell anything. This is partly because this generation were the first ones to have a huge amount of information available to them. Therefore, they didn’t rely on companies calling or the newspaper to be able to make an informed decision. This resulted in a huge change in how companies approached their marketing schemes. They started using humour in heir tv ads to get peoples attention, because a simple infomercial was absolutely killing them! This resulted in adverts like these: The Guardian .
Please follow the link, some of the ads will make your day!
Another great way too illustrate this is to show you how Cadbury’s adverts over time! You can really see how they go from info to silly over time!
This ad is from 1959
This is from 1987:
This last one is from 2009, and my personal favourite!
The founding members of Urgos are part of the millennial generation, and they absolutely fit the bill. When they sat down to create their business, they knew that wanted something with an environmental and economical purpose. The Urgos kettle is a new take on the most environmentally damaging house hold item, and we really believe that by making a choice to use environmentally sound household products that you could have a serious impact. I really believe in the bottom up approach to environmental change.
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