By Erika Denise L. Dizon,
Special Features Writer

MAKING SENSE of the younger generation is a reality that not everyone can fully grasp. Amid an integrated economic community where multi-faceted identities are determined to compete against the other to survive, there is a unique sub-market called millennials that is hastily influencing the way companies think and do business.

Millennials (or Generation Y) are those born between 1982 and 2004 and of the world’s 7 billion population, they comprise at least 1.8 billion.

At the BusinessWorld-PAL ASEAN Regional forum last Nov. 24, FINTQ President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lito Villanueva stated that companies nowadays should become more “edgy and progressive” if they want to reach out their message to the young ones.

“The mind set of millennials would always be triggered by the requirements of the consumers,” he said.

Understanding the behavior of millennials is admittedly not an easy task. Although Mr. Villanueva described them to be digitally adept and highly versatile, the younger generation is likewise known to have very short attention spans.

According to him, a recent study was conducted on the brain activity of human beings, which showed that the limited attention span of millennials has decreased from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. “What is very staggering to know is the fact that even goldfish would have a longer attention span of 9 seconds,” he said.

Havas Media Ortega President and CEO Jos Ortega, on the other hand, stated that millennials are living rather patiently in a “compartmentalized” world that is still governed by the Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers.

How the millennials are influencing industries across ASEAN countries

In spite of that, millennials are not very keen on being isolated into a single category as they lead very dynamic lives, whether it is online or offline. “For them, it’s about the seamless existence between both worlds… They move from one to the other or they live both of them simultaneously,” explained Mr. Ortega.

Millennials are torn between living the life their parents want for them and pursuing their passion. In effect, he challenged business heads to create services that would genuinely pique the interests of young people as well as become an “experience resource” for them.

Mr. Ortega also noted that millennials have various personas across the social media outlets available, be it Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

“When you want to understand the millennial today, it is not just looking at them in one platform, but looking at them across different platforms to get a 360-degree view and a true understanding of who they really are,” he addressed the audience.

Brandwatch Vice-President for Asia-Pacific Christel Quek, meanwhile, shared the same sentiment on millennials having multiple personas. A root cause, perhaps, is the excessive amount of information and data being thrown at them. It is a blessing and a curse, she believes, because for the first time in history, all of the knowledge they want in the world is available at their fingertips via the Internet.

How the millennials are influencing industries across ASEAN countries

As a millennial herself, Ms. Quek openly shared that she had jumped from one job to another in the past 10 years — a typical scenario for many young people these days. Despite that, she said it’s not just about changing jobs for the sake of it.

“It’s that a lot of jobs that we try to do, we get bored with it because it’s always doing the same thing over and over again,” she explained. “We’re trying to do as many little things as possible in our jobs versus doing one same thing all the time.”

She then asked those who claimed to not understand millennials, “Have you actually tried to listen to them?”

Ms. Quek said that over 95% of the information on millennials we see and read today were created in the past three years. Apart from that, she urged companies to research and get insights from qualitative and quantitative data if they want to see the younger generation in another light.

“You can use technology for the better benefit if you don’t abuse it. But remember to try and listen more than you talk.”