Millennials, or people currently aged 18 to 34, are the largest generation in history. (Reuters Photo/Tuomas Forsell)

Commentary: Understanding Millennials and Why They're Good for Business


NOVEMBER 13, 2016

As someone who was born in the early '90s, I had the privilege of enjoying the world before the rapid development of technology, which putting everyone behind their screens. I played hide-and-seek, weaved rubber bands with friends so we could play rope, kneaded clay at school and carried a Walkman wherever I went. A few years later I started to use a computer, replaced my Walkman with an MP3 player and had my first cellphone. It has now been five months since I started working at iPrice, a Kuala Lumpur-based startup, writing this article that brings back childhood memories and on top of that, makes me realize how flexible my generation is with all the big changes we've been through.

Think when your children neglected their toys after you introduced them to tablets. We are ready to drop what we have and move on when something better comes along. We constantly seek changes, the thrill of the unknown, do everything online and demand only the best, partially because we're used to how technology transformed our lives. Thus, millennials (aged 18-34) are often branded as high-maintenance, lazy, easy to give up when challenges arise, and so on. Not all millennials behave like the negative stereotype. Whether you like it or not, millennials are now the largest generation in history that will help your business to run. As part of Generation M, I would like to share some traits of millennials that are good for your business.

Millennials and the Workplace

Passionate = Dedicated Employee

The Instagram quotes and wallpapers about following your dream are instilled in our blood. We like to do what attracts us and makes us happy, especially when it comes to our future. Gone are the days of arranged marriages and parents deciding what we should become. We will fight tooth and nail to chase our dreams and be who we want to be. When you interview a candidate to fill a position, aside of what's written on the paper, see how passionate the candidate is about the job and the company. Does he ask lots of questions? Does he look excited when he shares his past experiences and reasons he wants to be part of your team? Millennials who are passionate about their jobs don't mind staying late in the office, putting in extra effort and making contributions to the company.

Like to Be Appreciated = Motivation to Work Harder and Better

Millennials are not attention seekers or hungry for appraisal.  Don't we feel good when our achievement is recognized? Sometimes we don't know if we're doing things the right way or meet the boss's expectations. When we feel appreciated, we know that our efforts are noticed, thus it motivates us to stretch ourselves for our accomplishments. Give appreciation when it's meant to be because it will help create a positive working culture and healthy competition between employees.

Gets Bored Easily = Make the Office the Best Place to Work

Google, Facebook and startup offices are highly attractive to millennials. Not only are the jobs challenging but their offices are super cool. You can come up with creative ideas to make your office livelier, such as changing cubicles to an open office concept, give training to your employees, provide breakfast and snacks, install a foosball table, have a room for relaxation, give gym memberships, set a goal with a timeline for them and be their mentor, etc. A fun workplace is loved by everyone regardless of their generation.

Work-Life Balance = Better Performance

We consider life after office hours as important as our jobs. This does not mean we are slacking or insisting to go back on time while leaving the work unfinished. We want to have dinner with our families, go on dates, see movies – basically have a life. Having a work-life balance makes us happy, healthy and ready to give our best the next day in the office.

Millennials and Business

Curious, Risk-Taker = More Customers

Who would travel across the city or endure hours in traffic jams just to buy food that everyone talks about? We would! We are a curious generation and risk-takers; we want to know what the hype is all about without knowing the result. The shop may be closed, the product may be sold out, the food may not suit our taste buds but we're okay with it.

Narcissistic, Social Media Junkie = Free Advertising

As we like to feel appreciated, we're also generous in giving appreciation. We will "check-in" once we reached your hotel, take photos of the beautiful food plating your chef created, selfie/wefie in your resort, tweet of how great you are as a boss etc. Oh, don't forget that "tagging" a friend is as good as word of mouth. Everything will go online and that's free advertising for you.

Opinionated = Honest Feedback

With easy access to the internet and social media, we can voice out whenever and wherever we want. Either something goes well or wrong; we will write a post/tag/comment on your social media page. It's a good thing that you receive feedback from us so you can always improve. When it comes to negative feedback, use the opportunity to solve the problem and regain our trust, thus you will never lose customers.

Millennials and Shopping Habits

Everything Is Online = More Profit

According to Pew Research Center, millennials own more smartphones, use their smartphones more and text more. Smartphones are our best friends; we look for products, shop and pay online. The store that used to be far is now within a click, products that go unnoticed in the shop suddenly look attractive, coupons and promotions are everywhere leading us to spend more.

Strong Buying Power = More Profit

Yes, we know some of us fall hard for advertisements and marketing tricks, are easily seduced by new things, and would spend tons of money on stuff that we don't really need – but we can't help it. Most millennials only drink artisan coffee, are loyal to specific brands, eat out in restaurants every day, starve ourselves to buy the latest gadget, are out of control when it comes to online shopping and so on. We are willing to spend on everything that makes us trendy. Have you heard of the "urban poor?"

Shopping in a Group = More Profit

According to Boston Consulting Group data, millennials often shop, dine and travel in groups. Female millennials tend to shop twice as often with their spouses, family and friends. This makes business twice as good as usual, especially when it comes to school holidays or special occasions!

Adventurous = More Profit

With the booming of Instagram and other social media sites, a lot of industries (especially travel) experienced increased profits. Millennials are more keen to explore the world and travel abroad compared to baby boomers. We have the youth, energy, chances and less commitments to satisfy our wanderlust. It's a trait that inspires others to follow our path, including baby boomers who are financially secure and would spend more on holiday.

Theresia Clara is a content writer at Kuala Lumpur-based startup, iPrice.