Let’s just say it: Millennials get a bad rap. In the press and around the office, they’re often labeled entitled, lazy and spoiled. As consumers, they expect every retail experience to be painless and simple, and brands to welcome their input like never before. They’re telling us they can do anything (and that they deserve a promotion already). But the truth is: they kinda can – and they are.
Understanding them, figuring out what they’re about and where they’re going, isn’t about catering to a group of entitled youth. It’s about understanding the future for all of us and figuring out how we can thrive alongside them in it. That’s the message Anne Hubert, senior vice president at Viacom Media Networks and head of Scratch recently delivered when she joined Lindsay Drucker Mann, vice president in global investment research at Goldman Sachs to discuss the generation at Goldman Sachs’ Talks@GS speaker series. The conversation was moderated by Edith Cooper, Global Head of Human Capital Management at Goldman Sachs and included thousands of employees from the global investment firm.
The Millennial Generation is defined as those born between 1981 and 2000, and by the numbers, is the largest generation in history. According to Hubert, Millennials are unlike any generation before them:
“They’re having incredible influence – as consumers, with more than a trillion dollars in spending power…and they’re consuming differently. They’re influencing other generations, and themselves founding companies, joining new initiatives, they’re becoming entrepreneurs inside big old organizations and challenging us all to adapt and follow them into the future.”
Hubert points to Millennials’ propensity for collaboration, often referred to as the “sharing economy,” as one of the generation’s main differences as consumers. The success of Uber, AirBnb, Rent the Runway and other businesses that rely heavily on sharing underscores that principal.
“They’ve grown up in a world that has been flattened and democratized by the way technology is changing the rules for all of us,” says Hubert. “We see that come to life in the way they buy a car, to the way they rate an experience at a restaurant, to the way they book a hotel and wonder ‘why am I getting a room when I could rent an entire house?’”
“They’re challenging all of these assumptions,” says Hubert, “and rewarding the brands that welcome their input.”
See more of Anne Hubert and Lindsay Drucker Mann’s discussion below.