In our series in Millennials (or Generation Y) we have to realize the impact this generation will have over the next 10-20 years as they all hit the 25-54 demo. This generation is larger than the Boomers and look at the impact that generation had from the late 60s through the mid-90s. The Boomers were a lot bigger than the 'silent generation' or the World War II babies so their impact was magnified. But, the Millennials are still a bigger group and they also have a revolutionary quality like the Boomers.
Boomers saw mass communication and world travel become common place. Television, Radio, Telephones, Interstate roadways and jet travel made the whole world accessible. Boomers also went to college more and had higher levels of education.
When you look at the Millennials they have a huge revolution in communication that dwarfs the old analog media. They can travel the world on their laptops, communicate with anyone they want in a variety of ways from email to text to voice to video to chats to social media. The combination of their population size and the huge leap in communication technology is already pushing us into a revolution moving at the speed of Moore's Law (the speed of computer processing doubles every 2 years). They are also well educated with high levels of post High School activity.
Radio can't keep brushing this generation aside. If you worked on FM radio in the late 70s and early 80s you probably got a preview of the times we are in now. In the mid 70s the peak of the Boomer generation was in their early 20s and just starting to fill up the 25-34 demo. Most marketers considered this generation long hair youth at the time and really not much of a market outside of fashion, music, beer, electronic equip and maybe cheap cars.
Through the 80s the Boomers completely overtook the 25-54 demo and turned marketing upside down. I can remember being at a rock station and watching agency after agency turn us down even though we were starting to climb up the top 3 in 25-54 adults. We knew it was only a matter of time till they would have to look at our audience - no matter how different they may have been.
Right now the oldest Mellinnials are turning 30 - in 5 years they will enter the 35-44 demo and completely take over 18 to 34s. And they will be the biggest generation we've seen yet in the U.S. The challenge we face is getting them to dial into our media and brands. We all can see the vehicles, but getting them started seems to elude us. It can't anymore.