THE CONTRIBUTION OF MILLENNIALS TO THE TRANSFORMATION OF SOCIETY AND COMMERCE
Who are Millennials?
The generation, roughly those born from 1980 to 2000(source Wikipedia)
Although millennial characteristics vary by region, depending on social and economic conditions, the generation is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.

Characteristics of Millennials
Millennials And Spending
Millennials place more value on experiences than material possessions. Older generations took great pride in ownership of big-ticket items like homes, cars, investment properties, stocks, etc.

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In a survey conducted by Pricewaterhouse Coopers,  HYPERLINK “https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/275802” “_blank” 57% of Millennials agree that ease of access and frugalities now replace the prestige of ownership. They want to be able to share resources and information in the blink of an eye, at a conservative cost, and at little risk of accumulating additional debts.

Thus, a sharing economy was born, boosting huge profits to the service industry. Ride sharing, AirBNBs, and Cloud storage platforms have seen tremendous growth thanks to the moderate, sharing mentality of millennial consumers.

Beth Ann Bovino, chief economist with Standard & Poor’s, estimated that millennials are spending upwards of  HYPERLINK “https://www.forbes.com/sites/laurashin/2015/04/30/how-the-millennial-generation-could-affect-the-economy-over-the-next-five-years/” l “44caca0832e1” “_self” $600 billion annually. However, the bulk of such spending is seen in the ever-evolving, entrepreneur-friendly service industry, as opposed to the retail and housing markets that were a priority for past generations.

Concern over retirement and health care also plays an enormous role on millennial spending habits:  HYPERLINK “http://www.breitbart.com/california/2016/10/06/ey-millennial-survey-finds-generation-believes-economy-failing/” “_blank” 35% of them are making just enough to cover basic living expenses, while 74% have serious doubts about whether Social Security will even be around once the time comes for retirement. Apart from how their spending habits have shifted, the desire for a secure future urges millennials to stash their cash, more than half their assets, in savings.

Millennials And Technology
Millennials were raised with technology. Many of them began using cell phones, computers and the Internet in elementary and middle school. Because of this, they truly have become pioneers for the future of technology. Millennials are well known for their innovative, entrepreneurial ideas and unabashed forms of self-expression. Having technology as such an integral part of their childhoods has completely shaped the way they communicate and share information with the world. They now have access to media that was previously under the control of news outlets.

Politics, humanitarianism, and retail branding and promotion have all been transformed by the tech-savvy generation. Not only have they shaped the way the marketplace and working environment function with their own technological advancements and preferences, millennials have also forced a complete shift in how companies attract them as consumers.

Millennials are  HYPERLINK “https://www.uschamberfoundation.org/reports/millennial-generation-research-review” “_blank” 60% more likely to produce and share online content than non-millennials, so brands have had to undergo a vast transformation to attract and retain them as customers. If it doesn’t provide ease of access at a reasonable cost, and they aren’t passionate about it, they aren’t buying. Period.

Millennials And Human Capital
Millennials are most passionate about growth potential, in themselves and in their lives. This is where they get the biggest reputation for being a “flight risk” to employers. If there is no potential for growth and the return on investment for their skills is not being capitalized on, you better believe they aren’t going to stick around for very long. They want to work smarter, not harder, and for enough pay to make the time they invest worthwhile.  HYPERLINK “https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/millennials_report.pdf” “_blank” In 2010, the number of Millennials enrolled in a graduate program reflected a 35% increase from 1995.

In the workplace, millennials are looking for rewarding work with opportunities to grow and contribute. They want an employee experience that includes a personal connection with coworkers at all levels, the  HYPERLINK “https://www.accenture.com/t20160512T073844__w__/us-en/_acnmedia/PDF-18/Accenture-Strategy-2016-Grad-Research-Gig-Experience-Unleash-Talent.pdf” l “zoom=50” “_blank” flexibility to get the job done in the way that works best for them, and experiential learning and growth with the goal of making a purposeful, meaningful, socially responsible contribution.

Millennials and the Society
How we choose to proceed with the current social discourse about Millennials hinges on how many optimists choose to participate in shaping the discussion.
Millennials refuse to blindly conform to traditional standards and time-honored institutions.  Instead, they boldly ask, why?” On the flip side, some of the more hardened critics blame their refusal to go along with tradition on a lack of effort or laziness, sometimes even going so far as to suggest that they aren’t involved in their workplaces or in their communities. In other words, they are apathetic.

Although specific forms of engagement vary, Millennials have  HYPERLINK “http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/millennials-confident-connected-open-to-change.pdf” “_blank” matched older generations in volunteering and consumer activism. In addition, they want to make a difference:  HYPERLINK “http://www.forbes.com/2009/07/07/gen-y-volunteer-mentor-forbes-woman-leadership-community.html” “_self” Eighty-eight percent of Millennials females and 82% of millennial males reported that it’s important to be engaged in work that gives back to the community. A  HYPERLINK “http://articles.latimes.com/2006/jan/26/local/me-frosh26” “_blank” 2006 UCLA study of hundreds of thousands of college freshmen found that 66.3% thought it was important to help others, an increase from 62.4% in 2004 and the highest percentage recorded in 25 years.

If that doesn’t convince you, an incredible  HYPERLINK “http://fi.fudwaca.com/mi/files/2015/07/2015-MillennialImpactReport.pdf” “_blank” 84% of Millennials reported making a charitable donation in 2014.  HYPERLINK “http://casefoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/MillennialImpactReport-2013.pdf” “_blank” Millennials get involved in philanthropic causes because they are motivated by service. High school seniors today are more likely  HYPERLINK “https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/millennials_report.pdf” “_blank” than their predecessors to state that they want to contribute to society.

Moreover, Millennials are  HYPERLINK “http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/10/millennials-confident-connected-open-to-change.pdf” “_blank” spearheading the use of social media for civic engagement, which is reshaping their definition of “community” altogether. Their lives are less rooted in geography and stability than their parents’ lives were. Unlike their parents, they don’t live peacefully with their neighbors on suburban cul-de-sacs; they don’t dream of white picket fences. They use technology to participate with the chaotic, diverse world around them; they live one major civil rights and humanitarian crisis to the next. Technology has armed them with knowledge and understanding of how other people live in societies and socioeconomic classes and countries around the world.

They are more aware of the plight of others – friends and strangers alike – than ever before, and this access and awareness is shaping their belief systems and their choices in unprecedented ways.

Ways Millennials are changing society
1. They challenge us to think qualitatively instead of quantitatively.

Quality has fewer limits than quantity. Why not focus on economic justice, or more tolerance for differing points of view? Less polarization could be refreshing.  Or how about revisiting our education system to make sure real learning is taking place? Why not focus on preparing students for the workplace of the future? Does our instruction take place in the context of a global economy? This new generation demands this kind of thinking. It’s a good demand and will help define how success will be defined in the future. Think quality instead of quantity.

2. They challenge old assumptions about careers and jobs.

Getting employment and loyally working for a company until we can comfortably retire has been thrown into question. Staying with one company is not the top consideration of a career. And neither is the sole emphasis on the bottom line. There is a strong expectation for businesses to expand the impact they are making. Their role in the world includes improving it for the better. Millennials have a strong sense of this. Think contribution instead of consumption.

3. They challenge “one size fits all.”
Learning processes will be customized. Some of us grew up with television. This new generation has grown up with something in their hand–smartphones that let them communicate, compute, and much more. Over the next few years, many of these devices will be used in the classroom. It will be possible to monitor how fast students are learning. They will be able to learn at their own speed. This will prevent someone from falling into the gaps of the educational system, while at the same time not holding another back. The pace will be customized to the learner. Today, when I purchase my music, I no longer have to buy the entire CD. I can design my own. Instructors will be able to do the same thing–providing more customization in learning along with the basics.

Millennials and Social Commerce
As the first generation to be composed largely of digital natives, Millennials are some of the most significant users of social commerce and social media. “Social commerce” is a term that describes the intersection of e-commerce and social networking sites. It has changed the face of business as we know it. Social commerce utilizes user ratings, referrals, online communities and social advertising to facilitate online shopping. Millennials, people between the ages of 15 and 35, have been quick to adopt and utilize social commerce. According to Forbes, there are 80 million Millennials in the US and they spend more than $200 billion annually. This makes Millennials an attractive segment for marketers.
For Millennials, social media is simply a normal part of daily life. It impacts where they go, what they do, what they buy and where they shop. There is evidence that the companies/brands that they like, follow and pin change over time, as does their preferred way to make purchases. Mobile devices have become central to their socially influenced purchases since Millennials are now able to connect with companies/brands wherever and whenever they want. Older Millennials (29-35) are most likely to engage with businesses on Facebook and Pinterest while 19-23 year olds prefer engagement via twitter. The youngest Millennials are the least likely to engage with businesses or make purchases through social networking sites. If these social media platforms decide to move ahead and expand their plans for “buy” buttons, it is likely that they will find success among certain segments of this cohort. Millennials have embraced social media and use it to gain and share information about companies/brands through reviews, ratings, videos and other referrals. This idea of using social influence and word of mouth through social media is changing the way commerce functions. It is important that businesses attempt to understand and target this generation of tech-savvy, connected, multi-channel shoppers. These Millennials are shaping the future and social-influenced purchases are poised to explode over the next several years.
African Millennials and their spending power
The continent, now home to more than 1.1 billion people, will account for one-fifth of the world’s population by 2025. Every year, hundreds of thousands of Africans enter the consumer class, made up of the African millennial.
African Millennials will save Africa’s crumbling ecommerce industry. Most young Nigerians have two to three cellphones with different carriers, as mobile network service is pretty bad on all networks operating in Nigeria. As reported in September 2017 by the Nigeria Communication Commissions, about 92,975,682 users are online.

African consumers are young and willing to spend. 53% of income earners in Africa are between 16 and 34 years old — an age group that tends to be more aware and eager to try new products. These consumers will contribute to more than $400 billion in total consumption growth in the next decade, according United Nations and McKinney Global Institute.

More than half of the populations in many African countries are under the age of 25, and they are increasingly online. Facebook has grown its African user base to 170-million, 94% of whom use mobile to access the social network. Internet penetration on the continent has increased by 6,839% in the last 15 years, with Frost & Sullivan saying that mobile penetration in the region  HYPERLINK “https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/sub-saharan-africa-to-witness-fastest-growth-in-mobile-usage-rates-globally-finds-frost–sullivan-300016427.html” “_blank” will increase to 79% by 2020.

Opportunities exists, but it is not necessarily business as usual
Firstly, as African economies grow, the growth is trickling down and people have more disposable income. Their spending patterns are being dictated and shaped through media and other influences as Africa ‘opens up’. Secondly, Africa has a disproportionately young population with 62% of the population in Africa less than 25 years. There is, therefore, a guaranteed consumer base for years to come in stark contrast to any other continent.

Rise of middle class
HYPERLINK “https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Global%20Themes/Middle%20East%20and%20Africa/Realizing%20the%20potential%20of%20Africas%20economies/MGI-Lions-on-the-Move-2-Full-report-September-2016v2.ashx” “_blank” According to the Mckinsey Global Institute, increased consumption by Africa’s growing middle class means consumer spending is likely to reach $1.4 trillion by 2020. Investor and philanthropist George Soros has described it as ‘one of the few bright spots on the gloomy global economic horizon’. Africa’s middle class has tripled over the last 30 years, as African economies are growing (7 of the 10 fastest growing in the world). The wealth is trickling down, and Africa now has the fastest growing middle class in the world.

MILLENNIALS GROWING AFRICA’S MOBILE ECONOMY
Close to 70 per cent of Africa’s population now comprises of millennials – many of whom have grown up seeing mobile devices as a normal part of everyday life. As the region’s future decision-makers, customers, and constituents, these millennials will be major stakeholders in the success of both Africa’s businesses and governments – from hiring top talent to ensuring satisfaction with public services.

The millennial generation in Africa and elsewhere have much to contribute when it comes to moving enterprise organizations along the path toward greater mobility – but only if it is empowered to do so. More than 30 percent of millennials globally view work/life flexibility as essential to being engaged at work, according to a recent study by the IBM Institute of Business Values.

Businesses however looking to mobilize their workforce can no longer rely on a top-down approach. Instead, they must enlist the help of their tech-savvy millennial employees and tap into the generation’s inherent understanding of what it means to be truly mobile. In the enterprise space, this manifests itself in two ways – ensuring that millennial employees are armed with the right tools to provide the best possible experience for customers and encouraging their feedback on and involvement with new mobile developments.

Mobility is an enabler for business transformation and a catalyst for innovation. African enterprises that effectively harness the power of mobility will begin to uncover valuable hidden insights that lead to new products and services, gain a deeper understanding of stakeholders’ needs, and benefit from faster transformation and results. The implementation, however, can be an uphill battle for many organizations.

Beyond these peculiar infrastructure challenges in the African environment, employees may also lack the necessary skills and many businesses have yet to implement an effective mobile strategy that ensures accessibility without compromising security. Along with growing security concerns, consumer expectations of mobile offerings also continue to rise, and the pressure is building on organizations to derive and action on the real-time information generated by mobile devices. Millennial employees, however, can help bridge the gap. As organizations explore new ways to leverage the feedback cycle between mobile services and end-users, millennials can assist businesses in creating increasingly targeted experiences to maintain the attention of young consumers.

As the future leaders of change, millennials have a vested interest in the mobility of their employers. And with more millennials flooding the workforce pool, they will continue to prioritize working on mobile devices. In fact, millennials in the Middle East and Africa region are optimistic about their abilities – a recent survey from Telefonica found that 81 percent of the region’s millennials believe they are on the cutting-edge of technology, compared with 75 percent worldwide.

Businesses in Africa can seize this unique opportunity as a way of improving customer interactions. As younger employees are more likely to be on the front line of an organization – perhaps, working as customer service representations, or managing and providing content for brand social media channels. By empowering the employees with direct access to customers – with streamlined access to real-time information – organizations can ensure a better experience for their customers.

We are increasingly living in the era of the Mobile Mentor. When we think of the word ‘mentor’, most people tend to picture a veteran with decades of experience. However, when it comes to embracing mobility, it is the up-and-comers who have the advice to offer. Corporations and governments in Africa can benefit from direct input by millennial employees. By encouraging the feedback of younger employees, businesses can find out exactly what millennials workers and consumers are expecting from new mobile services and gain deeper insight into ways to streamline functionality.

Citibank is an example of a company which has successfully implemented this practice. Its reverse mentoring program pairs senior executives with undergraduates to work together on projects, helping the company stay one step ahead of the top technology trends and laying a foundation for improved recruiting and new talent cultivation and generation.

IBM is also encouraging its millennial employees to join the wider business conversation. Through its Emerging Leaders program, millennials were able to join more than 1500 C-level executives in discussing how to use enabling technologies including mobile, cloud, and Big Data analytics as a competitive advantage. By tapping into the digital wisdom of millennials, organizations can unlock new ways to solve business challenges, enhance productivity and better define the needs and strategic interests of the corporation in the future of the marketplace.