The SDI’s of Millennials


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In the 1950’s, a number of ministers and politicians railed against the “evils of rock and roll” and implied that the youth of the day were adversely affected by the insidious nature of the music. Despite that music, most of us who lived through the 1950’s and 60’s did so without too much lasting damage.

I suspect that every generation looks askance at the one that follows them. Just as women seem perpetually mystified by men and men by women, so too do we become befuddled by the wants, needs, desires, and motivation of younger generations.

Recently, I was talking to a CEO (who shall remain nameless) who opined “Millennials are Strange, Disloyal, and Indulged.” Since those words don’t seem to fit the Millennials that I have raised (nor the ones with whom I have become acquainted both personally and professionally), I’ve set out to use the letters that started his descriptors to define Millennials differently. My S, D, and I words are: SKEPTICAL, DISCERNING, and INFORMED.

Millennials certainly have every right to be SKEPTICAL. They watched many of their parents errantly believe politicians, advertisers, and the media – only to find that some of those messengers strayed from the truth or at least “spun” it. Millennials are native to the “new media” where events are documented in real time by people like themselves who offer eyewitness accounts on Twitter. They look to reviews of peers, not to hype from marketers.

Millennials are DISCERNING. From an early age they have been besieged by choices. They have had to learn to manage options, information overload and make quick decisions on where they will dedicate their energy and attention.

Millennials are INFORMED. As a youth, if I wanted to learn more about a subject I had to be near my encyclopedia or a library. Today, knowledge lives at the tips of our fingers.

In addition to my S, D and I view of Millennials, research shows they are EXPERIENCE SEEKERS. According to the Boston Consulting Group, 72% of Millennials report that they prefer EXPERIENCES over products.

Since I’ve dedicated my career to researching, writing, consulting, and doing PRESENTATIONS about creating engaging experiences, lets list off the types of experiences Millennials desire.

In future blogs, I will dive deeper into the specifics of optimal experiences but at a high level, Millennials want experiences that:

  • Honor their time
  • Engage them socially
  • Increase their knowledge
  • Leverage technology
  • Demonstrate transparency
  • Give them a story to tell 

As noted in my latest book Driven to Delight, Millennials are transforming and will continue to shape the marketplace. It is time for older generations to stop judging them and instead start listening to their needs while celebrating their fabulous gifts and talents.

Most importantly, it is time to craft experiences that engage Millennials and earn their loyalty!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Michelli, Ph.D.
Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., an organizational consultant and the chief experience officer of The Michelli Experience, authored The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the best-selling The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary.


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