The Prefrontal Cortex Is The Way To Millennials

Like many generations before, today’s Millennials are a coveted group for marketers. Gen Y’s buying power comes in second only to the Boomer age group, and Millennials are the first to grow up in today’s digitally connected culture. Understanding a generation that speaks in acronyms -- like YOLO -- and keeps their eyes glued to their phones can be difficult, but achievable.

Some of the best learnings actually come from understanding them from a development perspective. We recently gathered our neuroscientists and aggregated some insights based on what we know about the brain and Millennials. The most basic premise for our findings stem from a part of our brain called the prefrontal cortex. We actually continue to develop that part of the brain into our mid-20s.

This is a great learning that brands should understand. Here’s how it translates into what brands need to know:

Get social: That prefrontal cortex is responsible for decision making and moderating social behavior, which is one of the reasons that Millennials tend to be more reliant on each other for validation. This is quite true when selecting brand and product choices. The research showed that nearly two-thirds of Millennials won’t make a major decision without first running it through their social network.



Because decision-making tends to be a social experience for Millennials, brands that want to appeal to them must engage with them on social media. Millennials like to see others confirming the value of a brand or product and tweets, posts, and check-ins provide the perfect space for brands to prove themselves to the uncertain Millennial.

Lean in to user-generated content: Expanding on that communal nature, Millennials gravitate to brands that allow them to truly engage. Eighty-five percent of Millennials said that user-generated content had some influence on what they purchased, especially larger purchases. Although opening up a space for negative comments can put a brand at risk, a brand has much more to gain by allowing user-generated content. If Millennials can’t see what other consumers have to say, they may be less willing to buy the product or service. 

Use all the screens: Millennials are also uniquely adept at multi-tasking. Gen Y has grown up in a world where they’re constantly using at least one device, and because of this, their brains have adapted to a rapid task-switching environment. When it comes to getting your brand’s message out, be sure to leverage all those channels. You should be easily accessible on the web, on a smartphone, and on a tablet. Most likely, your Millennial is a multi-tasker, and your brand needs to fit seamlessly into their rapid-switching environment.

Master Millennial speak: Millennial brains are developing new forms of condensed speech, have created a new type of slang vocabulary, and they expect rapid-fire responses Their ever evolving acronyms (YOLO, GIF, ICYMI, HRH) constantly morph and require a brand to stay on their toes. Sometimes speaking Millennial doesn’t mean using the right words but getting the message across in the right format. Memes and GIFs have become a vessel for viral content in the past year, and a brand going after Millennials needs to consider these visual shorthands.

1 comment about "The Prefrontal Cortex Is The Way To Millennials ".
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  1. Julian Gibson from Cognitive Currency LLC, December 21, 2012 at 11:10 a.m.

    Great posting, I think cognitive focused marketing strategies are the next level of market research. Companies who transition from "selling" consumers to engaging them with insightful content.

    The tips offered in this posting are a great start toward building a multi-generational marketing strategy. For more thoughtful insight on topics like this follow me on Twitter: @MobileWhisperer

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