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Millennials, Social, and FOMO: Why Businesses Need to Rethink How They Go to Market

The majority of social media feeds focus on where people are and what they’re doing – whether it’s a prideful snapshot taken from the mountain ledge of Machu Picchu after the long, adventurous hike to the top or multiple posts showing individual dishes of the nine-course tasting menu at The French Laundry in California’s lovely wine country. It’s a way for folks to share their life adventures and experiences with the world. People also use social media as a way to consume information and stay “in the know” with what everyone else is doing – that you’re not.

This is particularly true with the millennial generation, who are constantly on their favorite social apps: Snapchat and Instagram. In addition to letting friends and family see what they’re up to, millennials often use these platforms to show off and brag, stirring up FOMO—fear of missing out—for those who are not there living in the same moment.

As millennials’ massive purchasing power and trendsetting influence continue to grow, businesses need to understand what they care about and how they buy. More and more, we’re starting to see that millennials prefer to spend their hard-earned dollars on life events and experiences rather than on material objects. And with their heavy use of social media, FOMO is a constant, leading those under its influence to seek and demand “experience buying opportunities.” The bottom line? To connect with millennials, businesses need to focus on experiences – which means marketing their products based on the latest, hottest trends of what people are into doing.

For example, I’ve noticed that Nordstrom, Inc., a leading fashion specialty retailer in the US and Canada, starts advertising floral sun-dresses, crop tops, shorts, suede boots, and comfy sneakers in February because they know that the annual two-weekend music festival Coachella is coming up in April. So right smack on their homepage, Nordstrom markets “Coachella fashion” to all the music lovers and eventgoers to amp up some of the must-wear styles and increase sales. Talk about target marketing and tapping into consumers’ lifestyle trends and FOMO tendencies!

So besides seeing how millennials are dramatically influencing and being influenced by social media and stirring up FOMO emotions, what else should businesses note about millennials today?

  1. Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials are also known as “Generation Y,” the cohort following Gen X, and yes, you guessed it, the group before Gen Z kicks in.
  2. Millennials are major multitaskers, easily distracted, and always need to be connected, which is why it’s so difficult to keep them away from social media and texting – remember FOMO?
  3. As the first generation to grow up constantly connected to the internet, millennials are digital natives who need instant gratification, information, and feedback right at their fingertips. Perhaps this is why some label millennials as entitled, spoiled, lazy, and even bratty! Ouch….

What do you think? Are you a millennial yourself, or do you know someone who perfectly exemplifies the behaviors described in this blog? To further explore the nature and traits of today’s millennials, check out the research findings of Sean Sands, associate professor and managing director at Monash Business School, who recently presented at SAP Ariba Live the session titled “Selling in the Next Generation—How Millennials and Technology Are Revolutionizing the Way We Do Business.”

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      Author's profile photo Stephanie Chi
      Stephanie Chi

      “FOMO is so real right now” – said every Millennial

      This is a great topic to discuss in a world where Millennials are quickly becoming the largest purchasing powers in the industry. You touch on a great point that Millennials are constantly connected, always aware of what’s happening near and far. I believe this also makes Millennials extremely skeptical – everything must be fact checked and Googled. Data is the language that Millennials speak. It is necessary to draw upon data to influence the decisions Millennials make.

      Author's profile photo Simone Milesi
      Simone Milesi
       I believe this also makes Millennials extremely skeptical – 
      everything must be fact checked and Googled. 

      I do not think so.
      I think pretty the opposite: the amount of data we are exposed to pushes us to believe a bunch of silly things just because we found 1-2-3 sources talking about them.
      Just think about how Conspiracy theories spread quickly thanks to internet, without a critical mass opposing it but supporting it instead.

      We are so addicted to data that we drink everything.
      I see older people being more skeptical because they are used to search for sources and fact checking.

      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert

      Why is it that most millennial blog out there take a one size fits all to a generation that spans 20 years?

      It's insulting or is the aim of this article to stir up debate which has been had several times over?

      Based on Gen Z being eldest as 15/16 (2001 onwards) does this mean we have to be subjected to another 5 years of articles pertaining to this lazy , selfish generation who seek instant gratification due to this ingrained sense of FOMO?

      Times like this, I wish I could be.... oh look a shiny new toy.

      Author's profile photo Simone Milesi
      Simone Milesi

      I was born in 1981 and so I should fall under the "millennial" tag but I cannot see many contact points with others "millennial" born even in 1992: the world turned upside down a couple of times or more in 11 years!
      And i cannot see any contact point with someone born in 1999!

      I think this "millennial" fashion, the way everyone talks about it, labeling anything as "millennial" is becoming just a marketing strategy, pretty useless and wrong.