How a shifting landscape drove millennials to control the marketplace

Last month, I wrote a blog entry asserting that millennials had taken it upon themselves to drive the marketplace and forced brands to shift their thinking and communication.

As we think about this further, the reason for this is that we have an intersection of availability and desire (not of products, but of information), and it’s drastically changing the way business is done today.  The availability of information, life decisions and technological-savviness have combined to drive this massive change in the way we do business. The finite notion that there is just more information than before is fairly self-explanatory, but let’s look a bit deeper at the reasons millennials are the perfect audience to consume it:

They’re interested in anything and everything:

Availability is one thing, but there has to be an interest, and our younger generation today has that desire to know everything it can about a product and brand. The groundwork was being laid when millennials were babies, as ingredients were widely put on products in supermarkets and cable news started a ticker at the bottom of the screen in the early 90s. That has only continued with the rise of the Internet and social media, and millennials want to know not only what is in their products, but where those ingredients came from, how the employees producing them were treated and what a brand’s mantra, mission and future plans are. This ranges from reading a blog and engaging with a brand (how cool is it when your favorite sports team or hotel chain responds on Twitter?) to investor reports and shareholder decks. More than ever, companies, columnists, bloggers and the Twitterverse are making valuable information available, and millennials are eating it up in real-time, and demanding more.

Millennials are waiting longer for life changes that serve as distractions from brand engagement.

Please don’t take this as a public service announcement or political statement about the role of family in today’s society, but there’s no doubt that people are waiting longer to get married, have children, settle down in careers and make long-standing commitments than prior generations. Thus, there is more actual time and mental capacity available to consume information and data that previously didn’t even enter the mindset of a 20 or 30-something. Time spent playing with your kids is now spent playing with your phone, which can sometimes feel as important as a child! Brain power spent focused on developing a career is now spent on making an informed decision about which sustainable craft beer to buy at the liquor store. And when millennials go looking for those commitments like a spouse or new job, it’s through online dating, wedding websites and parenting blogs, which puts them in the sphere of information collection yet again. Yesterday’s Tinder is today’s WeddingWire and HoneyFund, and tomorrow’s The Bump.

Information seeking becomes so ingrained that it continues into marriage, parenthood and beyond. This is why companies like The Honest Company, Blue Apron and other brands have succeeded on a sustainable, healthy reputation that is appealing to millennials.

Millennials are tech savvy

This should be a surprise to no one, but when I mention the cloud, my parents still look into the sky…and they’re parents that actually have iPhones (okay, they’re still on the 4S, so I’m not sure if that counts). Millennials are the generation that has embraced the technology that drives information digestion. We’re able to toggle between screens, share articles with our friends and appreciate that what Gawker, HuffPo and Reddit may lack in journalistic integrity, they make up for in convenience, enjoyment and a clairvoyance (or careful tracking of our cookies) always to know what we want to read when we want it. Simply put, this is a classic example of availability meeting opportunity, or even more simply, basic supply trying to keep up with an ever-increasing demand.

As we evolve and understand the shifting consumer, it’s important also to understand what has caused this shift, the factors that empowered a younger generation to push brands beyond their comfort zone, and drastically change what it looks like to be a twenty-something in 2015. As brands react and evolve, those who have the foresight to see where consumer appetite is going will likely be the brands we see when our newborns, wearing diapers from Honest Company and eating HappyBaby veggies, are twenty-somethings themselves.