The Brookings Institution, a longtime public policy nonprofit, is hip to which companies the massive Millennial generation admires most.
A senior fellow at the institute and director of its 21st Century Defense Initiative, Peter W. Singer (alongside Heather Messera and Brendan Orino) published a report last month based on the surveys of more than 1,000 young American leaders. D.C.’s New Guard: What Does the Next Generation of American Leaders Think? is an insightful look into what is and isn’t on the minds of Millennials.
Behind the behemoth Boomer generation, there’s Generation X. The institute is intrigued, however, with the Millennials — not the generation that directly follows the Boomers but the one that will more likely shape public life and leadership, it claims. Also known as Echo Boomers, Generation Y, the 9/11 Generation, and the Facebook Generation, Millennials in general were born between 1980 and 2005. The age of this group isn’t as important as its attitude. This group is 30% larger than the Boomers and three times the size of Generation X.
In the report, Mr. Singer of The Brookings Institute attributes noteworthy demographic power to the Millennials, pointing to the ultimate rise of Barack Obama to US president. It’s also the generation that inspired and laid the foundation for what it has deemed the “Facebook phenomenon.”
For corporations, marketing to Millennials and looking to lure the group to their brands as loyal customers poses new challenges. Companies stuck in the past — unable to target this massive generational market — will fail, according to Singer’s findings. On the flip-side, firms that Millennials can identify with most will succeed.
According to the surveys conducted by the institute, a generation reveals its values based on the companies and organizations it holds in high regard. For instance, the institute cites General Motors, General Electric, Coca-Cola, and Standard Oil as firms liked by Boomers. When Millennials were asked, “What company do you admire most?” results were scattered broadly, from Intel to Gazprom. Most popular answers were Apple with nearly 15% of responses and Google with about 7%.
Not surprising to me because I cover the industry, but by sector more than 35% of the young leaders ranked consumer goods companies as those they admire most, closely followed by firms that focus on information technology, communications, and computing. Perhaps because this generation has lived through the failure of financial firms, banks and financial companies generated a mere 2% in admiration.
Energy companies brought up the rear, indicating the generation’s propensity toward valuing the environment. I’d bet that Millennials are big Netflix users. I noticed earlier this week when browsing the “Netflix Top 100” documentaries that An Inconvenient Truth was ranked #1. Kudos to Al Gore.