Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
Globally, the millennial generation lives in a world where mum is just as likely to be the main bread winner as dad. iStockphoto.com
Globally, the millennial generation lives in a world where mum is just as likely to be the main bread winner as dad. iStockphoto.com

Folly of youth not entirely as it seems for Generation Y

The millennial generation goes by many names. Trophy kids, Generation Y, MTV generation, digital natives, 8095ers.

The millennial generation goes by many names. Trophy kids, Generation Y, MTV generation, digital natives, 8095ers.

This is a group of people in which the oldest are 33 and the youngest 18. They have experienced life-defining moments such as the global recession, a massive tsunami and the Arab Spring uprisings. They are adept users of Facebook and smartphones. They will be the first generation that may be worse off economically than their parents. However, they are probably the most diverse and educated generation ever.

Despite what some of us might feel about this generation, we cannot underestimate their impact. They will account for 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025, even more in the UAE. They influence not only their friends' buying decisions, but, their parents' as well. They have never known a world without the internet or smartphones.

We at the public relations firm Edelman have just completed a global study looking at this group. Across 11 markets, including the UAE, and through over 4,000 interviews, despite the economic challenges this group faces we find that it will drive and be at the forefront of many of the trends that brands, countries and families will experience now and in the future.

Global urbanisation, experiences over consumer goods, and the rise or fall of the "millennial dad" are three of the key trends this group is driving. Millennials no longer want to live in rural areas, and are leading the mass migration to urban centres. Globally they live in a world where mum is just as likely to be the main breadwinner as dad.

And news flash: they don't care about having lots of things. For them, what is more important is the experience of engaging with a brand and that brand providing life experiences beyond a purchase. The cynic could say they want their cake and to eat it as well. They do.

But they want to be involved in selecting the icing, design, source materials, and the naming of that cake.

UAE responders have fascinating responses to the question: "How do you want brands to help you?" Seventy-seven per cent want brands to provide them with financial assistance (such as providing grants and scholarships); 75 per cent said they wanted to be provided with the opportunity for more life experiences (for example, sent on trips, given lessons in something they have an interest in); and 66 per cent wanted to be provided with a mentor who can guide them. The UAE registered only slightly higher than the global average on this question.

And you thought this might just be an exchange of a good or service for a fixed price?

Demanding, definitely. Willing to cut you down to size if you don't give them what they want, to some extent. Most millennials see it as their responsibility to share feedback with brands.

They are more likely to share positive feedback than negative feedback. In the UAE, 81 per cent said they would provide feedback to brands. This group thinks advertising is boring. But sadly, they also are not consuming their news from the paper.

Brands must act and engage differently to get attention and loyalty. We are in an age of surprise and delight. If you don't, they will tune you out.

Parents of this group are probably laughing as they read this, as they think of their child hunkered down with multiple screens open and conversations happening all at once with friends all over the world as they yell just to get their children's attention from 10 feet away.

The research shows this generation will talk to you without the aid of technology. Many marketers think that the only way to reach millennials is through social media. Search engines rule, but then face-to-face communications with friends and family are number two and three respectively. The vast majority of word-of-mouth passing on of information happens offline.

So as you read this column this morning, you are probably chuckling at the folly of youth. Well, don't scoff. Hold that funny thought. Being smart and funny is the way to go. Business may often be serious, but don't always take yourself so seriously.

Plus, you are going to need that sense of humour because Generation Z is now fully formed, and will quickly become the new "it" generation.

Iain Twine is the general manager for Middle East and Africa for Edelman Public Relations

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 The Greens, villas: Q1 no change. 3BR - Dh210-250,000. 4BR - Dh210-260,000. 5BR - Dh220-300,000. Q1 2013-Q1 2014 5% rise. Pawan Singh / The National

In pictures: Where Dubai rents have risen and fallen, Q1 2014

Find out how rental prices in the prime locations in Dubai have altered during the first three months of the year and the current rates you will pay according to data provided by Asteco.

 Above, the private pool of Ocean Heights' five-bedroom penthouse flat. Courtesy Christie’s International Real Estate

In pictures: Penthouse flat is height of Dubai luxury living

A five-bedroom penthouse in Ocean Heights in Dubai Marina is on sale for Dh25 million and comes with a private pool and an unparalleled view of Dubai.

 The cooling towers of the Temelin nuclear power plant near the Tyn nad Vltavou in Czech Republic. The country wants to continue expanding nuclear energy capacity despite cancelling a tender to build two new units. David W Cerny / Reuters

In pictures: Best business images for the week to April 17, 2014

Here are some of the best business images for the week to April 17, 2014.

 Three generations of the Hakimi family tend to their stall Crawford Market in Mumbai. Subhash Sharma for The National

In pictures: Shopper’s delight at Crawford Market in Mumbai

Crawford Market is an old British-style covered market dealing in just about every kind of fresh food and domestic animal imaginable. Later on renamed Mahatma Jotirao Phule, the market remains popular among locals and visitors by its old name, taken from Arthur Crawford who was the first municipal commissioner of the city.

 The Wind, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition takes place from April 14 to April 16. Above, the Dewa showroom during last year’s Wetex. Jaime Puebla / The National

April corporate and economic calendar for the UAE and overseas

From Cityscape to Wetex to stock-market holidays to nations reporting first-quarter GDP figures, here is our helpful calendar of April's business events in the UAE and internationally.

 Get the latest information on credit cards, bank accounts and loan products in the UAE. Mark Lennihan / AP Photo

Rates report: Latest on UAE loans, accounts and credit cards

Souqamal.com brings you the latest interest rates on banking products in the UAE.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National