The mysterious Generation Y
Generation Y, also known as Millennials were born between 1980 and 1995, and already outnumber Baby Boomers and out power their parents in spending power, so marketers are salivating over how to reach this generation who values the opinions of strangers online equally to the opinions of their friends and family1.
24/7 Wall St. created a list of products that the “Facebook Generation” (aka GenY, aka Millennials) would not be buying in the future, but do Millennials agree?
Millennials will not use email in the future
Although Google and Microsoft are likely to disagree, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg called email “too formal,” which is the basis of 24/7’s argument that Millennials will not use email for much longer, pointing to email use falling for the 12-17 demographic and rising for people over 55.
The idea that email is disappearing is ludicrous, in fact, email use is on the rise across the board as spam filters are finally working 20 years later, and we all get as much spam on social networks as we do in our email inbox. Zuckerberg has never lived in a cubicle, so his word is not final on this matter, and considering 12 to 17 year olds as the benchmark for email use is misguided, as they are not yet in the professional world. What is accurate, however, is that for personal use, it is not likely any Millennial will pay for email, so we can meet 24/7 half way on this one.
Generation Y won’t buy beer
According to 24/7, there is a shift in beer consumption, and after traditional beer brewers like Budweiser having relied on men in their 20s are watching their core demographic slip away to lite brands. Budweiser research reveals that 40 percent of young people today have never tried regular beer, which was 10 percent in 1988.
This is a really complicated product for a number of reasons, but is worth looking at for other industries to learn about the Millennial generation. 24/7 is right in that the traditional beers are being ditched for light beers, but moreover, the generation is more open to wine and mixed drinks, as the generation has much fuzzier gender boundaries than former generations – it’s not butch for a girl to drink a beer, and it’s not feminine for a guy to order a mixed drink.
We’ve come a long way since the Mad Men era of scotch and masochism, and most marketers are highly ignoring the changing gender roles. It’s okay for a man to be the stay at home parent in the Millennial generation, it’s okay for a woman to be a CEO, and sexuality is blurred as well. These all play a role in purchase decisions as men and women are less concerned with what a product choice says about their gender or sexuality.
Newspapers are on the way out
People under 30 don’t read newspapers now, and media companies are scrambling to figure out their next move – 24/7 is right on with this projection. Millennials are mobile, and they are multi-taskers. Reading a newspaper requires one to sit still and look at the same thing for an extended period, which is not a common behavior for Millennials when it comes to media consumption.
Books are still in use for this generation, but the next will not likely even touch print. The web opens so many doors and allows information to flow freely, so although newspapers in print will not reach Millennials, digital news does, and boy, does this generation consume a lot of that, whether it is niche news or celebrity news.
No more cars?
This one surprised us a bit, as 24/7 says less than half of all Americans 19 and under had a license in 2008, and car sales have struggled to reach the younger demographics.
Why is this? In my opinion, there are four reasons. First, after high school, most Millennials do not see see cars as a status symbol as previous generations did. Secondly, laws have changed dramatically for this generation, many of whom were not legally allowed to get a license at 16, so that “sweet 16” mentality is shifting, so the importance placed on that car is different now. Third, although frequently accused of being “slacktivists,” Millennials volunteer more hours and give more money to environmental causes than any generation in history, grew up around recycling, were told by age 10 that global warming was real and it was our fault. Lastly, cars are becoming less relevant because Millennials are flocking to the city and emphasizing buying homes and condos that have high walkability – it is almost cool with this generation to boast that they “got rid of” their car.
24/7 argues that most 25-29 year olds live in a household with only wireless phones. There is no arguing here – I’ve had a cell phone since I was too young to get one without an adult co-signer, and although I grew up with a phone in my house, by the time I was in college, no one talked on the phone, we all texted or emailed or instant messaged. Dorms and student apartment housing being built now in some cities does not have the wiring for landlines, as developers are discovering that it is a feature most do not use, thus a corner that can be cut.
What is still up for debate is VOIP phones, as most Millennial entrepreneurs that I know have this as their setup so they can have a professional voicemail system or route it to other staff including an assistant. This avoids professional contacts calling their cell phone and getting the “wazzuuuuppppp!!?????” voicemail greeting.
I would add that many Millennials, having grown up with social networks (in my case AOL, ICQ, etc., and in my final year of college, Facebook) divide their personal life from their professional life in a very guarded way, not friending anyone on Facebook that they haven’t met in person and know socially. Keeping a separate phone is something I can see increasing in coming years, but not so that there is a landline, but due to the division of personal and professional as the generation becomes acutely aware of how each impacts the other.
Suck it, cigarettes
Smoking rates among young people have historically exceeded those of the general population. Now that group is dropping the habit quicker than anyone (down 17.6 percent from 2005 to 2010) while it Americans over 65 have increased their smoking by 10.5 percent in the same period.
What businesses need to glean from this particular factoid is that Millennials may eat junk food, but anything that is obviously a health risk is often avoided, even binge drinking which is decreasing as well. I find my generation to be very conscious of being healthy; not necessarily for vanity, but for reasons of health. Think of it this way – a first date in 1980 might entail a 24 year old discussing what car they drive (going back to the car prediction), what high profile job they have, what texture is on their business cards (I kid), while a 24 year old today will chat about what local foods they like, or where they go running in the morning, or how they worry that their shirt took a trillion gallons of pollutants to make. These two cases are obviously an exaggeration, but my point remains.
Dude, you’re not getting a Dell
24/7 notes that Millennials are the only demographic to own more laptops than desktops, and most buy laptops as their first computers. I would add that the rising popularity of tablets will also have an impact on the fact that Millennials are not typically tied to desktops for personal use, but of course, all are bound by what their employer requires of them.
Technology manufacturers will adjust, and already know that mobile is where it’s at. Smartphones did not replace computers as once suspected, as websites and technology did not catch up fast enough, and Millennials are bi-techtual, meaning they usually own more than one device. It is common to own a laptop, a tablet, and a smartphone, not necessarily by the same manufacturer – not all Mac fans are die-hard, many will own a Macbook Pro and an Android smartphone, so brand loyalty is also in flux.
Television is absolutely on the way out
Although television sets are not at all going away, the viewing habits are rapidly changing, with Millenials between 18 and 24 watch less traditional television than any other demographic and Netflix and Hulu are taking over viewing for this generation. Many do not even have cable, which is an adjustment that carriers will be impacted by, but will likely make up the difference by increasing internet rates, claiming there is no more bandwidth because of the video streaming, so the costs will even out in the long run.
Millennials are not a complex generation, we just grew up with technology, which doesn’t make us more special, smarter or faster than any generation, just different in how we consume products. We care less about status symbols and more about convenience. We care less about being called gay for ordering the wrong drink or wearing the wrong shirt, and we genuinely care about our health after watching the previous generation force airplane seats to widen by however many inches over the decades.
Marketers frequently miss the mark in reaching Millennials, tying to much of their assessments to technology and the impact it has had on the generation, but it is much more sociological than many believe. It has less to do with a stupid iPad and more to do with how we see ourselves and those around us, having had a different type of access to the world via the web. It is important for brands of all size that plan on growing in coming years to understand the relatively dramatic shifts going on right now in consumer behavior, as Millennials are now very powerful buyers in the market.
Jack of all trades vs. specialized expert – which are you?
(BUSINESS MARKETING) It may feel tough to decide if you want to be a jack of all trades or have an area of expertise at work. There are reasons to decide either route.
When mulling over your career trajectory, you might ask yourself if you should be a jack of all trades or a specific expert. Well, it’s important to think about where you started. When you were eight years old, what did you want to be when you grew up? Teacher? Doctor? Lawyer? Video Game Developer? Those are common answers when you are eight years old as they are based on professionals that you probably interact with regularly (ok, maybe not lawyers but you may have watched LA Law, Law & Order or Suits and maybe played some video games – nod to Atari, Nintendo and Sega).
We eventually chose what areas of work to gain skills in and/or what major to pursue in college. To shed some light on what has changed in the last couple of decades:
Business, Engineering, Healthcare and Technology job titles have grown immensely in the last 20 years. For example, here are 9 job titles that didn’t exist 20 years ago in Business:
- Online Community Manager
- Virtual Assistant
- Digital Marketing Expert
- SEO Specialist
- App Developer
- Web Analyst
- Social Media Manager
- UX Designer
We know that job opportunities have grown to include new technologies, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, consumer-generated content, instant gratification, gig economy and freelance, as well as many super-secret products and services that may be focused on the B2B market, government and/or military that we average consumers may not know about.
According to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics after doing a survey of baby boomers, the average number of jobs in a lifetime is 12. That number is likely on the rise with generations after the Baby Boomers. Many people are moving away from hometowns and cousins they have grown up with.
The Balance Careers suggests that our careers and number of jobs we hold also vary throughout our lifetimes and our race is even a factor. “A worker’s age impacted the number of jobs that they held in any period. Workers held an average of 5.7 jobs during the six-year period when they were 18 to 24 years old. However, the number of jobs held declined with age. Workers had an average of 4.5 jobs when they were 25 to 34 years old, and 2.9 jobs when they were 35 to 44 years old. During the most established phase of many workers’ careers, ages 45 to 52, they held only an average of 1.9 jobs.”
In order to decide what you want to be, may we suggest asking yourself these questions:
- Should you work to be an expert or a jack of all trades?
- Where are you are at in your career and how have your skills progressed?
- Are you happy focusing in on one area or do you find yourself bored easily?
- What are your largest priorities today (Work? Family? Health? Caring for an aging parent or young children?)
If you take the Gallup CliftonStrengths test and are able to read the details about your top five strengths, Gallup suggests that it’s better to double down and grown your strengths versus trying to overcompensate on your weaknesses.
The thing is, usually if you work at a startup, small business or new division, you are often wearing many hats and it can force you to be a jack of all trades. If you are at a larger organization which equals more resources, there may be clearer lines of your job roles and responsibilities versus “the other departments”. This is where it seems there are skills that none of us can avoid. According to LinkedIn Learning, the top five soft skills in demand from 2020 are:
- Emotional Intelligence
The top 10 hard skills are:
- Cloud Computing
- Analytical Reasoning
- Artificial Intelligence
- UX Design
- Business Analysis
- Affiliate Marketing
- Scientific Computing
- Video Production
There will be some folks that dive deep into certain areas that are super fascinating to them and they want to know everything about – as well as the excitement of becoming an “expert”. There are some folks that like to constantly evolve and try new things but not dig too deep and have a brief awareness of more areas. It looks safe to say that we all need to be flexible and adaptable.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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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