In the next 20 years, Millennials will receive over $20 trillion in inheritance, with over $7 trillion being passed along by 2020, according to Bloomberg Business. This is the largest wealth transfer our country has ever seen, and the impact will be seismic. Businesses that are traditionally run by and focused on Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers will be forced to adapt to the newest generation of customers in ways they’d never imagined. This is due to Millennials’ expectations regarding technology, social responsibility, and instant gratification.

Boomers, those born between 1945-1964, grew up in an era of relative economic stability, and prospered despite numerous recessions and expansions. Typified by the “self-made” man, this past generation works a 40-hour workweek at a stable, long-term job; he owns a house in the suburbs, has a wife with two kids, and a solid retirement plan. This generation is often referred to as “Ben Franklin” investors – as they’re slow and steady in the way they save and spend their money.

Gen X’ers stand as the “middle child” in this equation, and range from ages 35-49. They’ve been introduced to technology and are able to work hand in hand with it, but deem it much less of a necessity rather an addition to their lives. So how does this compare to the newer generation?

Millennials are a less structured, less long-term version of the Boomers and Gen X’ers, born between 1980 and 2000. According to data from the 2012 US Census Bureau, Millennials are the largest generation America has ever seen, exceeding over 92 million individuals.

The Millennials’ distinctly different value set permeates all aspects of their life, and will affect businesses in the way they communicate with their customers. Over 85 percent of Millennials use a smartphone, according to a study conducted by Nielsen Holdings.

So, what does this mean for businesses? With these changes comes the need for businesses to rethink and reshape the way they appeal to this newer generation. Values in what they consume, how they consume it, and why they consume it are all beginning to be redefined. [1]

According to a study conducted by Bentley University, 66 percent of Millennials feel misunderstood by their elders- and since their elders are the ones driving a majority of the work force, this disconnect cannot continue. Businesses will need to recreate their image to encompass the values of this new age of consumers.

At the end of the day, if a business doesn’t work side by side with technology, they will be less appealing to consumers and Millennials will be much more reluctant to, well, consume.

What can companies to do cater to this new generation of consumers? Read More