It’s not every generation that can make profound changes in the way society lives and operates, but the Millennials are doing just that, right now.
In the same way the Baby Boomer generation coincided with an explosion of consumerism, technology and cultural transformation after World War 2, so too the Millennials – or those born between 1980 and 1994 – are unique as the first children of the digital age.
It is their facility for technology, and their ready adoption of new digital channels that is transforming the channel delivery of consumer products and services, and the shape of 21st century business models. No wonder marketers are so fascinated.
The big driver for the Millennials is connectivity. They are the first generation to grow up with computers and mobile phones, to the extent that they often seem like human appendages.
So how are these changes impacting on their approach to financial services, one of the key industries being impacted by digital disruption and driven by the changing tastes of Millennials?
According to US research by Fair Isaac Corporation for the fico.com website, over 50 percent of Millennials are already using or considering using alternative payment companies such as PayPal. 32 percent of them are currently doing so, against only 8 percent of those aged 50 or more.
Peer to Peer lending is a term which has only entered financial services terminology in the last ten years, largely since the founding of Zopa in the UK. Millennials, says fico.com, are ten times more likely than any other generations to use P2P platforms, and nearly a quarter of them are already doing so.
They are more frequent users of banking apps, with 26 percent using them, but – surprisingly – there is some resistance. The fico.com study says that 30 percent of Millennials with smartphones don’t use banking apps, preferring web based banking.
The mythbusting continues through other research. It is popularly believed that the vast majority of Millennial internet connectivity is for social media. But according to Redshift Research’s New Millennial Index, only 41 percent spend more than three hours a week on Facebook, while 43 percent are not Twitter users.
At the same time, the average US or UK Millennial spends 108 hours per year browsing the internet for study or work, a figure on a par with texting.
The reality is that it is a mistake to view Millennials as a homogenous group. The Redshift research – based on over 2000 interviews and involving 144 questions - found a diverse range of digital behaviour.
Redshift distilled the research and devised five emerging personas, which it claims showcases the different “emerging personas” among Millennials.
- Digital Window Shoppers comprised 28 percent of the interview sample. This group were less engaged than their peers, but they were more influenced by what they saw online.
- Digital Socialites comprised 24 percent. This group was highly social and were active participants in online networks.
- Dynamic Media Junkies (21 percent). They are immersed in the world of animation, video clips and streamed film and television, and are technologically literate.
- Casually Engaged (16 percent). This group was less engaged, more likely to be unemployed or in low paid jobs with limited access to technology.
- The emerging technocracy (11 percent). These are the leaders, who are strongly engaged with the digital world and who have a strong influence over their peers. They are the highest earners and twice as likely to be in senior management or own their own business.
The main common theme between all these groups is the rise of visual-based online interaction, through YouTube or film and video streaming.
Redshift’s message for marketers is to understand “this shift to a more visual, video-based online culture” as a way for engaging with Millennials.
For marketers wanting to persuade or influence Millennials, there is also a warning.
“Millennials increasingly rebel against spin and instinctive or emotional arguments,” the report says.
“Instead it is a generation in which rational opinions of perceived experts are highly regarded, where emotional appeals from non-experts are treated with scepticism.”
This article represents the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BPAY.
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