Millennial Talk: Generations Aren't All That Different

So much has been written about Millennials (typically those born between 1982 and 2002). As the leading edge of this cohort enters the workforce and adulthood, even more is being written about how their behavior as employees, parents and, well, adults.If you look closely enough, millennials aren't all that different from other generations.

At the same time, much is being written about the integration – or as some say convergence – of communications media led by digital technologies.

As a marketing strategist, I read a lot on these subjects. Understanding how to help clients present their products and services to a changing workforce is important, regardless of industry. Similarly, it’s critical to understand the types of media they pay attention to.

These are not separate conversations.

Millennials are Millennials because, well, they can be. Digital devices are not tools they use – but integral parts of their lives. When thinking about them, language like “digital immigrants” or “digital natives” is meaningless. Digital communications are simply just communications.

If you look closely enough, millennials aren't all that different from other generations.As a result, not only do they expect their personal preferences to be acknowledged, they demand it. Not only do they desire immediate gratification, they expect it.

Full disclosure: I am a baby boomer and, yes, a digital immigrant. I can be patient about how long I wait for a response to an inquiry (although that patience is waning). I have no expectation that my favorite stores remember my purchase history and preferences (although I know they can). I can be tolerant of brands that continue to believe they know what’s best for me (although I may remind them that I have choices).

Much was written about Baby Boomers as well. We were the massive force to be reckoned with as we aged. Just as we struggle to understand the tendencies of this new generation, we need to recognize that we’re not that much different. Millennials are Millennials enabled by the digital tools they take for granted. The rest of us are quickly learning to be just like them.