Generations, like individuals tend to have personalities. Historically we have seen that as each new generation enters the workforce, their collective personality has the propensity to change the workplace. And each new generation has brought with it new opportunities for business in the way of innovation, and in general just doing things differently. For marketers they open up new opportunities as well – as long as we understand them and can connect with them in a meaningful way.

Over the past one-hundred years there have been five significant, and significantly different generations. They are: The Greatest Generation (born before 1928); The Silent Generation (born 1928 through 1945); The Baby Boom Generation (born 1945 through 1964); Generation X (born 1965 through 1980); and The Millennial Generation (born after 1980).

The Millennials are very different from the generations that have gone before; and even the Xers who preceded them. This is the generation that companies are now hiring and marketing to as both B2B and B2C consumers. It is instructive to understand them in order to adapt hiring and marketing strategies to best capture the potential they offer.

My daughter, a Millennial enjoying her college years in South Carolina, recently sent me a great article: 15 Stats Brands Should Know About Millennials. Being from the last of the Boomers born, I found it fascinating just how different this group is from where we were at their age. I can only imagine their impact on the business world will prove to be as profound as each of the generations that preceded them was.

Here are some observations from the report that I found to be quite interesting:

  • There are about 79 million Millennials in the U.S (versus the 48 million Generation Xers) and by 2030 they will represent 50 percent of the U.S. workforce. In comparison, there are 100 million Boomers (the largest generation ever born) and Xers are but half that number at 48 million. Clearly this is a big and important generation to watch.
  •  Now here is the one where my heart goes out to all HR professionals – 23 percent of companies reported having heavy contact with parents of millennial employees. 31 percent reported parents submitted resumes on behalf of their offspring. Really? That’s going to make for some interesting performance reviews.
  • Ok now for the digital world – 80 percent of Millennials sleep with their phones next to their beds, they send 20 texts per day, and 41 percent of them have no landline at home, relying only on their cellphones for communication. Not surprisingly, a majority 56 percent of this generation born in the age of Apple, think technology helps people use their time more efficiently. This is clearly an ‘untethered’ group. And it means monumental changes in the way employers and marketers will interact with them. Forget about phone calls when you can shoot a text. I also believe the boundaries between work and play will disappear. These folks won’t mind when business connects with them after ‘working hours’ — in fact they might expect it.
  • Millennials also say that having a high-paying career is important to them — 15 percent in fact, which isn’t bad for college age kids (compare that with 7 percent of Xers at a similar stage in life). Sadly, their unemployment rate in 2013 was 13.1 percent, as compared to a national average of 7.1 percent. Expect this group to be both ambitious and creative in reaching their salary goals. Expect many to take the entrepreneur route

If you want to know even more about the Millennials, here is some additional suggested reading from Pew Research.