Millennials Lead The Uber-sumer Movement

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, November 21, 2014

Generation Y has led many movements since coming of age, and for marketers, one of the most powerful movements Gen Y leads is the evolution of the uber-consumer. Through technological adoption, cultural shifts, embedded social networks and the overall size of the demographic, this “uber-sumer” is wresting control from brands to dictate the how, when and where of the marketplace. The rapid pace of innovation in today’s world means that brands are often playing catch-up with these tech-savvy and ultra-connected consumers, and brands are often caught unawares of business- and industry-altering changes. 

With Millennials leading the charge, here are the five trends powering the new expectations and behaviors of the uber-sumer. 

1. Everything on Demand

The insatiable, “I need it right now” consumer culture, amplified by Millennials, is continuously fed by innovation’s ability to deliver a better and faster response. 



In the past year, more than $2.2 billion in capital has been invested in on-demand companies. Uber is leveraging its on-demand car service to experiment with services such as grocery delivery. Google and Barnes & Noble recently joined forces to offer same-day delivery for books. Streaming video-on-demand providers, such as Netflix and Hulu, are able to instantly and simultaneously deliver content across all of a user’s digital devices. 

2. Frictionless Commerce

Multichannel commerce has changed the way retailers must think about the myriad paths that are possible in the consumer journey today. Gen Y’s adoption of technology that allows for seamless purchasing has helped change where and how goods and services are purchased. Apple Pay is finally making digital payments easier and safer than using cash or credit cards. Companies like Slyce will help expand the notion of where we can buy by allowing us to snap a picture of a desired item and then click to buy it. This new frictionless commerce changes what it means to “shop,” evolving the retail experience, collapsing the purchase funnel and changing how brands engage with consumers.

3. Experiences Over Ownership

Welcome to Gen Y’s shift in priorities: experiencing more and owning less. Many Millennials are eschewing the traditional model of home and auto ownership and replacing that paradigm with more physical mobility and a desire to enjoy life while they are young. The new social currency is not your shiny, new car, but the video of you scaling Mount Kilimanjaro. 

According to a report from Navigant Research, global membership of car-sharing programs will rise from 2.3 million in 2013 to more than 12 million by 2020. This trend is further amplified by Millennials, with 53% interested in participating in a car-sharing service. 

Airbnb currently has over 550,000 listings all over the world and is expected to surpass InterContinental and Hilton in the number of rooms it offers by the end of 2015. Gen Y is by far the largest group to use these two services.

4. Content Democracy

Millennials are enjoying the luxury of watching their content when, where and how they want, giving them more control of their own schedules. Gen Y can use streaming services available on mobile, such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu (and soon HBO, Showtime and CBS), to consume video content on their terms. 

But it’s not only how content is watched that is being disrupted, but also how content is created and who is creating that content. More and more it is the smaller players, often individuals, who are creating the shows that are watched by Gen Y. YouTube stars are the new celebrities, Twitch is watched by millions concurrently, and small movie projects are green-lit constantly on crowdsourcing sites. These are the new purveyors of media.

5. Ownership of Small Data

As companies collect data at an ever-increasing rate, people are questioning what, how and why this data is being collected, and they are beginning to demand ownership of their personal information. 

Millennials — marketers’ most sought-after audience — are surprisingly more concerned about data security and privacy than other generations, and they are willing to switch brands quickly if they feel their privacy is compromised. As more and more consumers realize the true value of their personal information, businesses will have to offer equivalent value in exchange or risk losing this “small” but critically important data. 

If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that innovations come fast and furious, disrupting whole industries in the blink of an eye. Tech-savvy Millennials embrace these innovations and drag brands along for the ride. Some brands are up to it, some are not, and some brands don’t even realize that the uber-sumer has arrived.

Next story loading loading..