7 Key Characteristics of Gen-Y

June 15, 2015  |  Pat McGovern


When it comes to the Millennial generation, there is no one size fits all approach. This is a big, diverse group and often times hard for marketing and admissions teams to understand. That said, there are characteristics common to the generation that are critical for you to keep in mind as you build out your engagement strategy.

But before I start, let me just add a few notes about this list.

Ok, on with the show.

1. They are all about digital. We all get this right? But even if this may seem obvious it’s still worth repeating. For these students, digital is part of their DNA and they are using it all the time. U.S. Millennials are using social platforms more than non-Millennials and they are more likely to favor brands that have Facebook pages and mobile websites. For them, it’s the first, and often times, the only place they’ll turn to for their news and their entertainment. It’s where they go to connect with others to unwind and relax. It’s through the use of technology that they feel they can bring about change in their world and the world around them. But more importantly they expect you to know it as well. Those organizations that get this idea…win. Those that don’t? See ya.

2. You need to be authentic. Article after article, study after study, this point comes out-Millennials demand authenticity. But what does this mean? Here are a few ways to think about being authentic:

3. You are a potential partner. Millennials view brands as more than just a way to transact business. They are pro-business and want to be a part of the marketing efforts. This is a completely different mind-shift from other generations and is a golden opportunity to engage and connect.

4. Millennials live in a flat world. For this group, levels of importance really don’t exist. They think nothing of emailing a dean to get his opinion on topic at 10:30 at night. And they can get aggravated when they don’t get a response right away. Now, you may think this kind of attitude and behavior is whacked – but this is the new normal.

5. They want it fast and they want it now, pretty please. Gen-Y is all about instant gratification. They put a heavy premium on speed, ease and efficiency. So think about this when dealing with the admissions team on responding to emails or phone call inquires. Think about this as you are re-designing your website. Is your financial information easy to get to and easy to understand? And above all, think about this when you’re building your mobile friendly site. You are mobile friendly, right?

6. They shop around. This is a generation that will read the reviews, check out what others have to say and visit as many as 12 different websites to compare prices, products and offers. And that’s for something as simple as sunglasses. Think about the work they are doing when it comes to picking out a college.

7. Beyond being authentic, brands should entertain and surprise. You don’t always have to be pushing your product. In fact, you shouldn’t. Millennials are looking for more than just the same old sales pitch. Understand your audience. What are they into and what’s important to them? Then start to roll those elements into your messaging. Remember, it’s a conversation, not a boring brand monologue.

8. BONUS! I know I said seven, but because I value and appreciate your time, I wanted to throw one more into the mix. Millennials expect an elevated level of customization and personalization. Key word here is expect. This group is willing to share information with organizations but in return they want a more intimate level of service and a deeper level of understanding of them as customers.

So there’s my list. Hopefully this helps, but knowing this list is really just the first step. Utilizing these points into your ongoing plans – that is the real key.

This post is excerpted from The Rise of the Millennials research study and presentation. Click here to find out about receiving this presentation at your school.

Pat McGovern works on the account service side at BVK. He has two Millennial daughters who keep him on his toes and make him feel every bit his age. You can follow more of Pat’s thoughts and findings by Following him on Twitter.


is VP at BVK

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