Full disclosure – the following article was totally written by a someone who forms part of the millennial mindshare and is an active consumer in the fashion market:
The hottest buzzword these days isn’t globalization, wearables, or even selfies. It’s millennials. Defined as those born between the 1980’s-2000’s, the millennial generation is commonly seen as a different breed of animals. Nestled between the baby boomers (our parents) and the likes of North West (who frustrated her father Kanye West by racking up a huge bill of in-app purchases on her iPad), we are considered the most game changing generation yet. So, as we enter our prime purchasing years, the business world is frantically trying to understand us, dissect our collective consumer behavior and cater to our tastes.
Who we are, and what we like:
You can probably spot us a mile away. We’re the budding entrants to the workforce; the ones with iPhones attached to our palms; we walk around exuding confidence, perhaps with an aura of entitlement. Internet savvy and hyper-connected, we were born into the era of technology. We rarely pick up a landline, opting to iMessage or Snapchat instead. We no longer buy CDs, instead we buy albums off the iTunes store or stream it via music sharing services like Spotify. We have also made traditional print media nearly obsolete; with fashion magazines such as Lucky and Details folding, publications are being forced to go digital. We have reshaped the way we communicate and consume media, thus creating significant opportunity — and challenges — for the future.
Time Magazine also explores the characteristics of millennials in Joel Stein’s cutting article dubbing us the “Me Me Me Generation.” He lays out the cold hard data:
“The incidence of narcissistic personality disorder is nearly three times as high for people in their 20s as for the generation that’s now 65 or older, according to the National Institutes of Health; 58% more college students scored higher on a narcissism scale in 2009 than in 1982. Millennials got so many participation trophies growing up that a recent study showed that 40% believe they should be promoted every two years, regardless of performance. They are fame-obsessed: three times as many middle school girls want to grow up to be a personal assistant to a famous person as want to be a Senator.”
Stein definitely strikes a chord here. Heck, we’re using Fitbit to record our daily steps, Swarm to document our everyday whereabouts, and Instagram to update followers on our seemingly glamorous lives. Our preoccupation with ourselves is giving older generations more reason to worry. But if we take a step back, we must ponder, “Is it actually a bad thing to think that you are capable of anything?” Perhaps balancing the fine line between narcissism and healthy self-esteem will be the biggest challenge for our generation.
What this means for brands in the fashion market trying to win the millennial mindshare:
As of 2015, we became the largest generation in the workforce. So how is the corporate world reacting to our shifting values? According to Singularity Hub, we’re less focused on high pay than doing something meaningful. We want challenging work that gives us a sense of accomplishment. We want a life outside of work too. Corporations nowadays are trying to provide lifestyle changes. Some opt for flexible hours, increased paid time off and even mandating workers to take their vacation days. Companies are also learning to give us more autonomy in our work and align with our incentives. We want upside in the value we create, which have pushed many companies, especially in the tech space, to offer equity stake in employees’ salaries.
On the flip side, with millennials geared to become the largest generational cohort of consumers, businesses are all frantically trying to get a slice of the millennial mindshare. Fashion media brands, for example, are adjusting their mindset to target this growing demographic. In response to millennials’ digital addiction, online magazines are popping up all over the Internet, eating at the market share of traditional media sources. Refinery29, a popular and fast-growing fashion and lifestyle media company geared towards millennial women, focuses solely on the online space. Co-founder Philippe von Borries explains, “There is a new age of media upon us. The paradigm of the last ten years — built on traffic to websites — is changing to a distributed ecosystem.”
Luxury brands in the fashion market have also learned to adapt to be the main player in the millennial mindshare. For this upcoming 2015 holiday season, Burberry launched the “Burberry Booth”, an interactive video experience at their London flagship. Using video-stitching technology by Google, consumers can film their own ad campaign for Burberry alongside celebrities and share it online. Bvlgari followed with a similar campaign, enabling consumers to virtually travel to iconic spots in Rome via an immersive gift guide. The video ad for it features millennial fashion stars behind Eat Sleep Wear, Sea of Shoes and Wendy’s Lookbook.
The obsession over the millennial mindshare — not only for the fashion market, but for any brand that wants to stay relevant — doesn’t seem like it’s going away anytime soon. The best advice for businesses today is to adapt to our tastes and habits. After all, in a few more years, we’ll be the ones with the ultimate spending power.