Lexus: The Misunderstood Millennial

By: Renee Fraser, PhD

Renee Fraser (CEO, Fraser Communications) is a behavioral psychologist and current WPO member. Renee and her Fraser team are consultants for the Lexus Difference – an internal initiative for Lexus dealerships across the country, designed to elevate the guest experience for all customers, with a particular focus on female and millennial guests as important emerging markets.

The Millennial Generation is front and center in the world today. This generation sometimes is harshly judged, over-analyzed, and we might not understand them as well as we should.

In 2015, Lexus launched an initiative to assist Lexus dealership associates to better understand a generation that is over 75 million strong. We worked with Lexus to take the show on the road and spoke with dealership associates about how to better connect with a generation that is skeptical of the hard sell, is well informed, and makes demands that some might think are unreasonable, and maybe even a bit entitled.

Equally important was educating dealers about the huge pool of future job-seekers that will be gracing their doorways, and the importance of taking the initiative now to not only understand and anticipate this generation’s needs, but embrace the change and allow their unique talents to help drive the future success of the dealership.

Sound familiar? It should. Because every company with older founders or mature (40+) executive leadership is going through the same issues. And even though we love to have them by our side to help us figure out how to use the newest software that promises to revolutionize our existence, the complaints are persistent.

Ask not what you can do for your company. Ask what your company will do for you.

And why not? After all, this generation grew up in some of the most troubled times of capitalism. They saw the Great Recession strip many of their parents and grandparents of their retirements. They accrued a tremendous amount of debt for education. And currently, in some of the cities they desire to live and work, a studio apartment can rent for over $2000.

They have been conscious during the longest military conflict in American history. They know the planet is changing, and sometimes not for the best. They are the generation immersed in the quarrelsome, unpredictable and sometimes personally damaging world of social media. And they grew up with the most civilization-changing device since the dishwasher: the smart phone.

Allow them a little cynicism while they take a selfie.

Millennials want to work not just for a company, but a culture. They buy not just products, but causes. And they want and will have a life outside the job, or they are gone. As parents and grandparents, as managers and executives, we have awarded them in childhood for just showing up. Why would we expect that attitude to not carry over into their professional lives?

They want their performance to be reviewed often and positively. They want control of projects past your comfort level of giving them those responsibilities.  As consumers, if they are unhappy with a product, service or company, the world of their social media – Facebook, Yelp, LinkedIn or Glass Door – will hear about it. In about 2 hours. Or less.

They are actually the most informed customers we have ever seen. They come armed with searches and queries and are ready to buy. They hope to face the most transparent and honest of sales people. As employees, they are willing to learn as long as you are willing to listen. They ask themselves if they are adding value, but only if the company and management has made them feel valuable. And, guess what? They actually think there are more important things in life than money, and they want a bigger reason to work than the amount of zeros in their paycheck. That sounds a lot like the Woodstock generation.

Understand, accept, embrace, and empower this generation.

Great things lie ahead for all of us.




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