Who, What, Gen Y
July 31, 2014 - 8:37am
With Millennials on the cusp of outspending Baby Boomers, "Gen Y Guy" Jason Dorsey tells what you need to know.

Residential Lighting: Why should lighting care about Millennials?
Jason Dorsey
: Currently ages 19 to 36, this demographic will outspend Baby Boomers by 2017! We also have the least established customer loyalty, are most likely to refer our friends to a company or brand we like and are most likely to talk about you on social media when you ask us in the right way. We are also entering our “wealth accumulation phase,” getting married, having kids, buying houses and spending money on residential lighting (for the first time). Millennials have the greatest lifetime value of any customer and we’re completely up for grabs. We’re the fastest growing demographic in both the workplace and marketplace — and we’re wildly misunderstood.

The biggest fallacy is that Gen Y is tech-savvy. At The Center for Generational Kinetics, we discovered Gen Y is really tech-dependent. Gen Y is also not one homogenous generation, but is actually breaking into two distinct generations based on their trajectory and behaviors. One segment is doing everything traditional generations have done, just three to five years later. The other segment is not creating real-world outcomes and owning the steps involved to get there. By age 30, Gen Y self-selects into one of these groups and then has trouble identifying with the other.

RL: How should manufacturers design product for Millennials?
: Millennials want their lighting to feel custom, unique and one-of-a-kind — even if it’s out of a box or “off the shelf.” While this isn’t necessarily new, how we want you to show us what we can do with the lighting is very different than previous generations.

Retailers should show that they “get” that a Millennial’s strong desire is to be seen as one-of-a-kind. Also, show us different options, but don’t tell us what to do. Millennials like to be shown the outcome first, and then the steps involved to get there.

RL: What do employers need to know about Millennials?  
: Millennials want a challenge, not a job description. The worst thing you can do is cater to or coddle this generation; it brings out all our worst characteristics. Instead, show us the challenges we’ll face in the first year on the job. Then offer photo- and video-based training. We’ll learn fast, and you only have to show us once and you can then hold us accountable.

It’s important to keep in mind that Millennials are entering the workforce older than any previous generation and with less experience than any generation at their age. Millennials also like ongoing feedback. But keep your trophies (we have dozens of them). Instead, spend 10 seconds once a month to tell us if we’re doing a good job or where we can improve.

RL: Does Gen Y care about lighting?
: Lighting is a big deal to Millennials. We’re at a place where design is a representation of our personality and lifestyle. Remember, we’re the most photographed generation in history — and this includes our surroundings.

RL: Are Millennials more likely to purchase lighting online or offline?
: We’re most likely to purchase from the retail or online company that best draws us in, based on their marketing and peer-to-peer recommendations. Once in your store, you must build our trust by communicating in a way that shows you value us as individuals, recognize that we communicate differently (such as by using iPads) and that you’re the missing, trusted resource we’ve been looking for to make our lighting vision a reality.

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