We’ve all heard that the world will be full of Millennials in a few years, but it’s debatable whether anything will change. Human beings have been navigating their 20s for, oh, at least 180,000 years. Why should they be any different now?
Consider their spending. According to Adobe, it’s been hard to tell how much of the lore is based in data. This mega-generation–some 80 million strong–is off to a slow start, obscuring their impact as consumers. They accounted for only $2 trillion in liquid assets in 2015 —just $25,000 each. Those assets are projected to rise to $7 trillion by 2020.
Tamara Gaffney, a principal analyst at Adobe, discussed the findings of its annual Digital Index at the company’s Summit marketing conference in Las Vegas this week. She scuttled some—but not all—of the hype about this unique demographic.
Already, a flood of ad dollars is trying to lure young adults to their parents’ brands. This year, Heineken is allocating 25 percent of its total ad spend on digital marketing to bring them into the fold; brands like Cadillac and Häagen-Dazs are following suit.
This chart demonstrates why the group is commanding such an investment, even years before it has evident disposable income.
"They’re not time-based," Gaffney said of the chart. "Everything is on their schedule."
Even the Super Bowl. Millennials were the only group of significance to re-watch an ad on a time-shifted basis while the game was still going on—indicating they weren’t bored, but were simply using their phones to orchestrate their Super Bowl experience into a more preferable timeline.
This is typical of Millennials: They do everything out of order. They reported, on average, switching devices during a digital task 10 percent more often than other groups. Their propensity to browse e-commerce sites without buying has earned them the nickname "fauxumers" from analysts at Forrester Research, and added to the mystery of when, where and why the fabled Millennial consumer will actually consume.
The solution for marketers, Gaffney advised, is to play into Millennials’ creative identities: Quit worrying about your campaigns and let them create their own.
"This is a big change for us as marketers," she said, citing unboxing videos and tutorials as examples of consumer-made marketing. "Millennials want to create their own content—they want something fresh!"
This article was created for and commissioned by Adobe, and the views expressed are their own.