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Millennials outnumber Boomers, behavior patterns emerging

As Millennials outnumber Boomers and many reach their peak spending capacity, brands are struggling to reach the impatient generation and many make decisions based on misunderstandings of the Millennial generation.

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Millennials now outnumber Boomers

In a new study by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG)1, Millennials, aged 16-34 and Non-Millennials were surveyed extensively, showing “negative or dismissive attitudes toward Millennials” by Non-Millennial (Baby Boomer) corporate decision makers.

According to the United Nations Department of Economic Social Affairs, the number of Millennials (79 million) already outnumber Baby Boomers (76 million) in America by 3.94 percent. This gap will widen in coming years as Boomers’ numbers decline, making the bias against Millennials risky for brands, as many enter their prime spending years.

Millennials and technology

Attitudes toward Millennials are very different between Millennials and Non-Millennials. Millennials have a positive perception of their generation, describing themselves as “tech-savvy, young, cool, hip, and innovative,” as Non-Millennials perceive the generation as “lazy, young, spoiled, entitled, and tech-savvy.”

Both agree that Millennials are young and tech-savvy, and the study indicates that while both spend equal amounts of time online, Millennials are consummate multi-taskers and much more likely to produce user-generated content.

  • Own smartphones: 59 percent of Millennials, 33 percent of Non-Millennials
  • Own desktop computers: 63 percent of Millennials, 80 percent of Non-Millennials
  • Rate brands online: 60 percent of Millennials, 46 percent of Non-Millennials
  • Upload pictures, videos, and blog: 60 percent of Millennials, 29 percent of Non-Millennials
  • Watch 20+ hours of tv per week: 26 percent of Millennials, 49 percent of Non-Millennials
  • Watch tv online: 42 percent of Millennials, 18 percent of Non-Millennials

The above data shows a major generational difference in that Millennials do much more online than Non-Millennials, and are more likely to do traditional activities from some form of a computer be it a smartphone or a tablet, like watching tv or making phone calls. Millennials are proven to be multi-taskers, typically engaging in various forms of social media, email, and web surfing simultaneously across various browser tabs and devices, and while many Non-Millennials engage in this behavior, brands must take note that while they have a Millennial’s attention, they may not have their complete attention, so messaging must be absorbed quickly before their eyes dart somewhere else.

Millennials’ behavior is impatient, yet optimistic

BCG asserts that Millennials exhibit four common themes in their evaluations of themselves as a generation, which is supported by their behaviors:

  1. “I want it fast, and I want it now.”
  2. “I trust my friends more than ‘corporate mouthpieces.'”
  3. “I’m a social creature – both online and offline.”
  4. “I can make the world a better place.”

Brands currently not engaging Millennials should note that the generation expects a different customer service model, and it may surprise some to know that the generation typically prefers efficient, expedient service over receiving a friendly response. Many Non-Millennials mistake the instant gratification need of Millennials as being self-entitled, but it is typically tied more to speed and BCG notes that Millennials are always in a hurry – they expect fast service just like they expect fast downloads and get annoyed and willing to purchase better devices when they slow down.

The challenge here for brands is how to get Millennials to spend time with your brand, when they barely sit still for long enough to read an entire news story, rather skim and get the highlights. As we previously asserted, brands will need to capture attention immediately and quit making consumers analyze data or messaging themselves – the era of a wall of 10 point font on a white paper won’t reach Millennials, but a large image depicting an economic indicator will perform much better, for example.

The crowd-sourcing generation

The report notes that Millennials trust their friends over corporate mouthpieces, but eMarketer data goes a step further and indicates that the generation actually values friends and family’s opinions as equally as they do strangers online evaluating products and brands. This supports BCG’s assertions that Millennials are the crowd-sourcing generation, and they constantly consult Google to verify what they’re told offline.

Half of all Millennials use their mobile device to check out reviews or research while they are shopping, yet only 21 percent of Non-Millennials do so. Brands will need to step up their mobile game in short order as the zoom-in/zoom-out game will become tiresome for Millennials who will move on to better resources (that you don’t control). Over half (53 percent) of Millennials will explore brands via social media, but only 37 percent of Non-Millennials will, further supporting the idea that Millennials highly value crowd-sourcing.

Millennials and social media

Millennials are validated by “likes” on Facebook, and they form tribes online, even with strangers. The BCG study reports the following:

  1. Use social media: 79 percent of Millennials, 59 percent of Non-Millennials
  2. Have over 200 friends on Facebook: 46 percent of Millennials, 19 percent of Non-Millennials
  3. Favor brands with Facebook pages, mobile sites: 33 percent of Millennials, 17 percent of Non-Millennials
  4. Lives feel richer when using social media: 47 percent of Millennials, 28 percent of Non-Millennials

What stood out to us is that the report indicates Millennials favor brands with “Facebook pages and mobile sites,” but those are two very, very different outlets, so we do not consider that quite a reliable metric, but the study’s assertion that mobile is critical in coming years remains.

Lastly, the study found Millennials to be more likely to encourage others to support their cause, participate in fundraising events, purchase items associated with a cause, and volunteer their time, but the study fails to report how much each generation actually donates in dollars, which we suspect would be dominated by Non-Millennials.

The reason generosity matters, however, is that Millennials who have been trained since they could walk that environmentalism and social justice issues are important, expect companies to publicly engage in corporate social responsibility programs and to support causes relevant to the companies, be it their employers, or brands they seek to purchase. It’s not just a stunt, and Millennials take charity quite seriously and expect brands they identify with to do the same.

The takeaway

The Millennial generation is quite misunderstood, and while there is a need for instant gratification, and yes, some self-righteousness, the generation is caring, smart, and fast. Brands with leaders that exhibit a bias against Millennials may be skewered by the growing number of purchasers as Millennials’ purchasing power quickly outgrows Boomers’.

The study surveyed 4,000 Millennials and 1,000 Non-Millennials, including “pivotal years” before and after each generation to get a true picture of behavior, but we find it interesting that the disparity between the volume of each generation surveyed is quite large, so we expect future studies to reflect similar results, but perhaps a little more favorable toward Non-Millennials. The point remains, however, that brands better adjust quickly, because this generation has money and they don’t blindly throw it away – they research, they are practical, they are mobile, they are in a hurry, they care about your corporate culture, and they want to tell their friends about their experience with your brand.

Related reading:

  1. Millennials are more difficult to reach, but respond well to creative ads
  2. Technology has made Millennials impatient yet more complex thinkers
  3. How Millennials are conditioned to be entrepreneurs
  4. Why Millennials rely on friends’ and online strangers’ advice equally
  5. Millennials learning from their Boomer parents’ mistakes
  6. Portrait of the new Millennial businesswoman
  7. The ultimate guide to reaching Millennials

1 BCG Millennial study

Business Marketing

Coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

These tools customize your Zoom calls with your company’s branding

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Zoom appears to be here to stay. Here are the tools you need to add or update your Zoom background to a more professional – or even branded – background.

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Zoom call on computer, but there's more options to customize.

If you haven’t had to deal with Zoom in 2021, you may be an essential worker or retired altogether. For the rest of us, Zoom became the go-to online chat platform around mid-March. For several reasons, and despite several security concerns, Zoom quickly pushed past all online video chat competitors in the early COVID-19 lockdown days.

Whether for boozy virtual happy hours, online classes for school or enrichment, business meetings, trivia nights, book clubs, or professional conferences, odds are if you are working or in school, you have been on a Zoom call recently. Many of us have been on weekly, if not daily, Zoom calls.

If you are the techy type, you’ve likely set up a cool Zoom background of a local landmark or a popular spot, a library, or a tropical beach. Comic-con types and movie buffs created appropriate backgrounds to flex their awesome nerdiness and technical smarts.

Many people have held off creating such an individualized background for our virtual meetings for one of any number of reasons. Perhaps it never occurred to them, or maybe they aren’t super comfortable with all things techy. Many people have been holding out hope of returning to their offices, thus seeing no need to rock the boat. I’m here to tell you, though, it’s time. While I, too, hope that we get the pandemic under control, I am realistic enough to see that working or studying from home will continue to be a reality for many people for some time.

Two cool, free tools we’ve found that can help you make your personal Zoom screen look super professional and even branded for business or personal affairs are Canva and HiHello. While each platform has a paid component, creating a Zoom background screen for either application is fairly simple and free.

Here’s how:

Canva is the online design website that made would-be graphic designers out of so many people, especially social media types. It’s fairly user-friendly with lots of tutorials and templates, and the extremely useful capabilities of uploading your own logo and saving your brand colors.

Using Canva, first create your free account with your email. It functions better if you create an account, although you can play around with some of the tools without signing up. The fastest way from Point A to Point B here is to use the search box and search for “Zoom backgrounds.” You now can choose any one of their Zoom background templates, from galaxy to rainbows and unicorn to library books or conference rooms. Choose an inspirational quote if you’d like (but really, please don’t). Download the .jpg or .png, save it, and you can upload it to Zoom.

To create a branded Zoom background in Canva, it will take slightly more work. It was a pain in the butt for me, because I had this vision of a backdrop with my logo repeated, like you see as a backdrop at, you know, SXSW or the Grammys or something. Reach for the stars, right?

OK, the issue with this was that I had to individually add, resize, and place each of the 9 logos I ended up with. I figured out the best way to size them uniformly (I resized one and copied/pasted, instead of adding the original size each time (maybe you’re thinking “Duh,” but it took me a few failed experiments to figure out that was the fastest way to do it).

Once you have your 9 loaded in the middle of the page, start moving them around to place them. I chose 9, because the guiding lines in Canva allow me to ensure I have placed them correctly, in the top left corner, middle left against the margin that pops up, and bottom left. Same scenario for the center row.

Magical guide lines pop up when you have the logo centered perfectly, so I did top, middle, and bottom like that, and repeated for the right hand margin. Then I flipped them, because they were showing up in my view on Zoom as backward. That may mean they are now backward to people on my call; I will need to test that out! Basically, Canva is easy to use, but perhaps my design aspirations made it tricky to figure out.

Good luck and God bless if you choose more than 9 logos to organize. Oh, and if you are REALLY smart, you will add one logo to a solid color or an austere, professionally appropriate photo background and call it a day, for the love of Mary. That would look cool and be easy.

HiHello is an app you can download to scan and keep business cards and create your own, free, handy dandy digital business card. It comes in the form of a scannable QR code you can share with anyone. Plus, you can make a Zoom background with it, which is super cool! It takes about five minutes to set up, truly! It works great!

The Zoom background has your name, the company name, and your position on one side and the QR code on the other. The QR code pulls up a photo, your name, title, phone number, and email address. It’s so nifty! And the process was super easy and intuitive. Now, If I took my logo page from Canva and made that the background for my HiHello virtual Zoom screen, I would be branded out the wazoo.

Remember there are technical requirements if you want to use HiHello on a Mac. For example, if you have a mac with a dual core processor, it requires a QUAD. However, on a PC, it was really simple.

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Business Marketing

Finally: A smart card that manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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