“We do things on our schedule, from our phones with the push of a button, and we absolutely demand affordability,” said Alexa von Tobel, the 31-year-old LearnVest founder, summing up her generation in one sentence.
This year, millennials surpassed baby boomers to become the largest generation in the American workforce. As more graduate from college and start their careers, this group and their influence on society will only continue to grow.
So, what influences shape the generation that runs their lives using smartphones?
Ten millennials shared their thoughts on what shapes their lifestyle behavior and how they foresee their generation influencing the future economy. Although respondents answered independently, four themes emerged:
1. Security isn’t ownership. Security is savings, managed from their smart devices.
Witnessing their parents and friends’ families face a mortgage crisis and unprecedented foreclosures has trained millennials to avoid long-term financial risk. Instead, this generation is paying down debt and contributing to retirement. In fact, nine out of 10 have budgets.
Millennials also know their financial standing like the back of their hand – probably because their hand is holding a smartphone. In fact, 52 percent of millennials use banking apps on smart devices to access and manage their accounts.
2. Experiences are their commodity, which they plan in the palm of their hand.
This generation’s upbringing was packed with activities and programmed time, which isn’t a habit that millennials are going to break. They seek out exposure to adventure and travel, both in the U.S. and abroad, and plan ahead for the large expense. As with most areas of their lives, millennials turn to mobile applications to research the most cost-efficient and convenient travel agenda. Travel ranks seventh in iPhone app categories and eighth in Google Play, with lifestyle earning the second most popular app category spot for iPhones and fourth on Google Play.
3. Fear of missing out (FOMO) is really just a desire to stay connected.
Social media has become such an essential part of millennials’ lives that 54 percent wouldn’t accept a job where they were forbidden access. Today’s professionals have been on Facebook and Twitter since high school, with relationships on social media now tracing back a decade. They feel an emotional bond that doesn’t require physical proximity, especially since their social community size overshadows that of their physical friend groups. Millennials feel strongly about these relationships, saying that their lives “feel richer” from being connected to more people via social media. To ensure they don’t miss out on this social experience, the average millennial owns three screens (smartphone, tablet and a computer), making them the most connected generation ever.
4. The “sharing economy” punctuates the influences of millennials’ childhoods.
Growing up during the times of the tech bubble bust in 1998, the economic downturn after 2001 and the Great Recession of 2008, millennials have seen first-hand the effects of unstable financial times. Their avoidance of long-term debt and focus on retirement saving has driven them to embrace a sharing economy. While their parents’ generation got married and bought homes, millennials choose to rent everything from apartments to cable service to cut costs. They see everything from a peer-to-peer prospective, whether it’s funding their startup through Kickstarter or catching a ride through Lyft, a mobile app that’s poised to be the fastest growing business of 2015.
As the largest population demographic in the U.S., the buying power of millennials can’t be ignored. Although this generation presents a completely unique set of needs, their connected lifestyle gives companies the opportunity to observe and understand their behavior. Earning the top wireless carrier spot on the 2015 Business Insider “Top 50 Brands for Millennials” list, Verizon understands this better than anyone. As the largest, most reliable 4G LTE network, Verizon has delved deeper into this generation’s values and translated it into a user experience that captures the things that matter most – speed, accessibility and constant technological advancement.