The Magic of Millennials

Millenials have influenced everything from culture to the economy and everything in between.

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Jeremy Balkin, Head of Innovation, HSBC live from the US
Jeremy Balkin, Head of Innovation, HSBC live from the US

Millennials have been the hot topic for marketing in recent years, as companies look to disrupt their industry with the new digital age in mind.

With a new market comes new challenges. Millennials have been brought up with the advent of technology, and with this comes an entirely unparalleled outlook of the world.

The major challenge for companies operating in the modern age is how to tailor their business towards the ever-evolving expectations of an audience who is used to the immeasurable speed.

Nowadays, marketing revolves around the latest trend originated from millennials. Jeremy Balkin, Head of Innovation for HSBC in the US, told the CxO Disrupt, Melbourne audience via the Bluejeans live chat that this behaviour is the “millennialisation of everything.”

“Millennial behaviour is influencing worldwide behaviour, and it’s transforming the economy,” he explained.

“The same seamless, fast and efficient customer experience that they get from interacting with Facebook and Amazon, millennials expect from every interaction of their life.”

He says that this ‘tectonic shift’ taking place means that companies are now competing in a globalised economy, locked in an arms race to be relevant, faster and give time back to the customers.

However, he cautions companies targeting millennials that not everything they may hear, or learn from data insights, is accurate regarding this coveted demographic.

“Around millennials, there’s a lot of myths and there’s a lot of stereotypes… There’s a lot of mistakes that companies, political leaders, decision makers, capital allocators and the media have made about millennials, especially in the US.”

Balkin notes that not all millennials are created equal, and there’s three distinct subsets that can be categorised by birth year – early 1980s, late 1990s and everyone in between.

The only key experiences that unite this broad swathe of the populace, he states, relate to the two main crises in the 21st century.

“There’s only two formative cultural influences that are relevant to all millennials, and that’s the experience of 9/11 and the financial crisis.”

Balkin emphasised the need to develop a strategy around millennials and suggested that everybody should be watching the USA, where one-third of the population are millennials.

“The whole world should be watching the role of the US millennials because one-third of the population is influencing the biggest economy on Earth, which has implications for everyone else,” he said.

Although millennials are the ever-growing market it’s important to remember that data is not the only metric by which to measure the audience. If organisations can get the balance between data and emotion right, they may be able to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.