I recently read that millennials are now the largest living generation – overtaking baby boomers. And just as baby boomers greatly affected the economy over the years, so too are the millennials. And although millennials and baby boomers both have a big impact, they are going about it a little differently.

Millennials are not influenced by marketing the same way as the older generations. Brand loyalty doesn’t come from a commercial. In fact, they often record shows so they can skip through commercials, or they use Netflix, Hulu or some other site. They are more likely research products online and trust the reviews of their peers.

Let me give you an example. They love their coffee. In fact, they spend more on this guilty pleasure more than any other generation. But have you ever noticed that Starbucks has very few commercials? Why? Because they haven’t needed it. Word of mouth has built the business up. They even created their own language, that I still don’t really understand. I listen to someone order and I’m usually lost by the third word.

This is a loyal generation. Research has shown that once you make a connection with a millennial, they will be quite loyal to you. Further, their loyalty runs even deeper when an organization is making a positive difference for society. Did you know that Starbucks has a Foundation aimed at giving back to the community?

Millennials even look at housing differently. Between the rising costs of homes and the large student loan debt, the average Millennial isn’t able to purchase a home…at least not anytime in the immediate future. Instead, living at home or leasing are their main options. Personally, my son is a recent college graduate and he is considering leasing an apartment and finding a roommate. He is even willing to share a one-bedroom. I thought he was crazy to consider sharing a bedroom, but as he pointed out, he shared a room in college for 4 years, and so doing it for a few years more, until he is more stable, would be no big deal.

So how can the older generation help this younger generation? First, we need to ensure they understand finances. They may love their coffee, but it shouldn’t put them in debt. Just because so many of them are going to college and getting a top level education, does not mean they know how to make a budget. It doesn’t mean they know the importance of saving at a young age; and it doesn’t mean they understand the importance of giving their first fruits to God.

This generation is going to have a huge impact on this world when we pass on. Let’s help give them every opportunity to succeed. It starts with us (the older generations). They are showing us the passion to make a difference, and they are willing to do the research. Yes, they are different than we were; but maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, look where we are at now. Imagine what they could do if we helped them understand how to develop good giving, saving and spending habits.

They are going to make a difference. Let’s make sure it is a good one.

Mark Etting

Author Mark Etting

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