Plead for certainty.
The group of people born after 1980 are experiencing the greatest levels of living uncertainty since the post-war baby boomers.
As a descriptor for a group of people, the word Millennial must be approaching the end of its useful life. Some ‘Milllennials’ are 39 this year. Possibly older if you care to argue over the precise dates of their birth. What is clear is that the term itself is decrepit. They have adult concerns and pressures, yet continue to be treated like children.
Access to free higher education, affordable housing and, potentially soon, healthcare are being restricted; it seems that the state is downscaling social structures by stealth. In response they seek a sense of certainty from people and brands, far more than Generation X before them.
What about the generation after ‘Millennials’? Generation Z are already in maturity, and have been thrust into a world without the structures needed to benefit their post university years. Career paths are far less certain, and many are thrown into the gig economy, leading to a further sense of insecurity in employment.
Against these day-to-day anxieties, it’s no surprise that 62% of Millennials want more control over their future, preferring to be independent and not to rely on others (Foresight Factory). 40% side hustle to support themselves (Henley Business School). Using free resources, such as video tutorials and online learning, they are adapting their skills for the modern workplace. Increasingly they are building their own close networks of people and brands which can help them work, learn and earn.
Where can brands fit in? For one, banks who take a modern view of the gig economy, and design accounts and services for this, will benefit. Those who choose to sell bank ‘products’ and old-fashioned business accounts with eye-watering charges, probably won’t.
Monzo has rewritten the rules of banking.
Gen Z will move on, and there is no shortage of ‘second generation’ banks like Monzo or Metro who will adapt to their lives and offer them the certainty that established financial institutions will not.
This sense of uncertainty isn’t restricted to those with the benefit of higher education. In the service sector, the looming spectre of zerohour contracts becoming a normal part of retail work adds to the sense of uncertainty and undermines the ability for many to plan ahead.
A playful ad from Toyota, which invites you to break the glass “in case of apocalypse”.
Against these anxieties, the backdrop of a government squabbling over Brexit gives the sense that politicians have lost the plot. There is little wonder that the generations born after 1980 are feeling uncertain. They don’t LOOK to brands to solve these problems, but brands have a onetime opportunity to step up and be part of their infrastructure for years to come.