Authors William Strauss and Neil Howe are widely credited with coining the term Millennials in 1987. That’s right, 32 years ago.
Little did they know Millennials would become the “me” generation, defined by so many tradition-snubbing traits that it turned the housewares business on its head trying to figure out how to sell them.
Many still approach Millennials as an elusive, fresh-faced phenomenon. The annual HomeWorld Business Generational Marketing Report in the August 5 issue, though, examines how mature the Millennial generation has become. The report breaks down a generation whose elders are now closing in on 40 and deeper into their careers, their families and their own homes.
They now crave more of the belongings they once believed they would never need, because they finally can afford more of those things.
As Millennials achieve financial independence and confront the allure of grown-up consumerism, however, don’t expect them to fully abandon core values cultivated during what for many was a sheltered coming of age.
This is a generation that once defiantly declared it won’t be sold, not with the endless shelf of e-commerce and the unfiltered dialogue of social media empowering them to bypass the limited choice and inauthenticity of traditional hard sales tactics.
Nobody tells Millennials what to buy. They tell you what they want. That is an unmistakable and indelible trait of the generation.
Or is it?
Influencing Is Selling
Millennials, like every generation before them and every generation to come, can be sold.
They proclaim their wariness of advertising. Yet they embrace social media influencers as the unbiased authority on what to eat, what to wear, how to cook with and so on. Never mind that many of these so-called independent influencers are taking big bucks to align with brands and products.
Influencers are the new media celebrities, the new generation of pitch people. And, as the housewares business is beginning to explore, they are potent, new brands.
Call it what you want, but influencing is selling.
It doesn’t seem long ago that established housewares suppliers spurned Millennials to focus on Baby Boomers— the people who at the time actually had money to spend? That created an opening for companies, products and messages developed for what was then a puzzling, emergent generation.
Prime Spending Years
Such leading-edge opportunism has been succeeded by the industry-wide necessity to secure what is now an expansive, maturing generation.
Millennials have been cast as self-absorbed kids for so long, it’s easy to overlook how grown up they are. How they are approaching prime spending years. How they have re-calibrated their priorities.
And why they are finally ready— and willing— to be sold.