A Millennial's Perspective

... and How it Relates to You

By Tara Doyle

What comes to mind when you hear the word millennial? Are you enthusiastic about unraveling the mystery of this generation with immense buying power? Or do you roll your eyes at the overuse of the buzzword and all its negative labels?
First, let’s break down any millennial stereotypes you haven’t heard, in the event that you’ve either been living under a rock or avoiding the dinner table at holidays. The common unfavorable concepts associated with millennials are that we are entitled, lazy, privileged, naive, and overly dependent on parents. I’m not here to shout from the rooftops that we’ve been given a bad rap while Snapchatting a selfie and ordering vegan food for delivery from an app, but instead to discuss my viewpoint as a millennial about these stereotypes.

What’s Happened in the Millennial’s Lifetime?
Let’s start off and talk about what has happened in the duration of millennial lives thus far so you can put yourself in our Uggs (just kidding, Uggs are out). A millennial is anyone born between 1980–2000, so at this point in 2018, that would be anyone ages 18–38. We are a group as vast as the array of apps on our glowing smartphones, with charity in our hearts and sweat on our brows—at least according to the articles I read before writing this piece.
Within the millennial lifetime, we have seen the attacks on the World Trade Center, the first African-American president of the United States, the economic collapse, the advancement of technology and social media, and the Iraq war (the second one). I’m sure every member of every generation who lived through great wars, great depressions, or great change feels as I do—that the world has changed immensely in a short time.

Stereotypes: True or False?
Now, about those stereotypes. In my quest to understand the biting narrative that we are spoiled and lazy, I posed the question to a veritable cornucopia of humanity—an airport. One baby boomer with reading glasses perched atop her head told me that her children expected her to pay for their college education, and that’s not something she ever would have anticipated from her parents.
A fellow millennial pondered and decidedly said that the baby boomers were to blame for the state of the economy, so she did not understand why we are pigeonholed for irresponsibility.
Then, there was Linden. Linden was a tall man with round glasses, a New Orleans Saints baseball cap, and a small smile. We chatted while sharing a coveted power outlet. When I asked Linden, who I would guess to be in his mid-40s, a Gen Xer, why millennials had the reputation of being so entitled, he snorted.
“Because y’all are.”
“Can you expand on that?” I asked.
“I’m a cop, alright? I’ve been on the force a long time. There are things that have always been done in a certain way, but these millennials are pushing back. For example, if you’re on the day shift, you can go get your car serviced during normal business hours. But, if you’re on the night shift, then you have to take your car in during the day on your own time and get it taken care of. These millennials,” he shook his head, “they want to be compensated for everything. They want money for the hour they go and do this car thing, but that’s not the way things are. Back in the day, we did things that needed to be done without complaining. You all feel like the world owes you so much.”
“So, you’re angry that they’re changing the way things have always been done? But why shouldn’t they be compensated for working on their own time?” I asked.
“That’s just not the way things are done. You don’t get rewarded for doing something routine like that,” he said.
After pondering that, I realized that we were both right. I understand that he believes people should keep their head down and work hard to do what’s “right,” while I feel like people should be paid fairly for their work. We could have stood by the airport outlets and argued all day, but neither of us would have changed our minds. How could we have changed each other’s viewpoints? We grew up in different times. The conversation with Linden was interesting.

How Have Things Changed?
According to Pew Research, many things have changed since past generations. Millennials are getting married later, having children later, and standing on their own financial feet later than their earlier counterparts.1 Although it may seem we spit on marriage as a whole, scoff at cooing babies, and eat jalapeño-flavored chips on our mothers’ couches, one should look a little further. We are more burdened with debt than prior generations, but still optimistic.
“Millennials are the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty, and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same age. Yet, they are extremely confident about their financial future. More than 8 in 10 say they currently have enough money to lead the lives they want or expect to in the future,” says the Pew Research Center.2
One might argue that it all goes back to money and debt. Maybe one reason, in addition to a desire for explored independence, that millennials are marrying later is due to a less-than-perfect economic foundation. As mentioned, more millennials are living at home due to a high demand in the housing market and an ultra-competitive job market.3

So, What Can You Learn from This as an MT?
Let’s bring all this back to you as a massage therapist. It’s important to understand that it’s unwise to believe all the stereotypes of millennials, but instead to think of us as an open-minded, curious, technologically driven group. For all the generalizations my generation is graced with, I cannot deny that we are attached to phones, eager to read Yelp reviews, search for deals, and partake in self-care.
It is important that you build an online presence. I scope websites before pursuing boutiques, check Yelp before getting manicures, scroll through Instagram before brunching, and I would not get a massage without checking out your website and reviews. Encourage your current customers to review your business on Yelp or Google.
As a thrifty bunch, we are happy to spend money, but want to know it will be worthwhile. Incentivize prospective customers to come in with a first-time service special. Make your business fun; set up a monthly drawing and choose one client at random to receive an add-on or extra punch to their loyalty card. Touch base with us when we drift away by setting up email automation to reach out to clients who haven’t booked in a while.
I am one lone voice in a vast generation. To understand millennials better, just talk with some. Don’t believe all the stereotypes you hear. Remember what they say, the shortest distance between two people is a story. Maybe the shortest distance between you and new millennial clients is a conversation.

Break the Barriers That Keep Me from Being a Regular Massage Client
Let me feel like I’m getting a deal
I don’t mind spending money, but I can’t deny that being rewarded for loyalty thrills me. I buy packages from all my esthetic professionals, so each session ends up being a slightly lower cost. I still tip according to the original price, but feel grateful for the price break.
I’d love to, but who has the time?
I know it seems silly, but an hour is a long time when you need to get home and meal prep, run errands, wrestle through a quarter-life crisis, or grab happy hour with a friend. Offer 30-minute options, please!

Please tell me more
I need to know how this massage will help me. Why should I get a massage if I can hit the yoga studio and sauna, then save the extra cash? Tell me about its benefits. Post on your website how craniosacral therapy will help with my migraines or how Swedish massage can help me sleep. Post a photo of Thai massage and how it works on your business’s Facebook page. I once heard it referred to as “the lazy man’s yoga” and loved that. Give me a stronger reason to justify it in my budget than the fact that it’s soothing.

Recognize my awkward discomfort
This one is on me, I know. I just cannot get comfortable in a face cradle, but I feel awkward about saying it because I’m not sure how adjusting it works. Don’t be afraid to ask your client a few times if they’re comfortable and whether the pressure is right. As I’m sure you know, we may be shy about speaking up the first time.
Give me a cookie, not a cookie-cutter massage
I once went to a random building in Denver for a massage and was struck with its banality. I walked in, filled out the intake form, got the massage, and left. The therapist barely spoke to me. That was an isolated incident, but a reflection on how things should not be. Personalize your space and your services. Offer a cookie before the appointment, a warm towel add-on, let me choose whether you use rose- or lavender-scented oil, or incentivize me to bring a friend.

And on that note ...
Make my time with you relaxing and fun, the way a mani/pedi is. Why shouldn’t a massage be social if your younger clients might take to the idea? Maybe offer something different than a couples massage by teaming up with another therapist to offer a Galentine’s Day special for a pair of besties. (FYI, Galentine’s Day is February 13, a time when gal pals celebrate one another.)

1. Eileen Patten and Richard Fry, Pew Research Center, “How Millennials Today Compare with their Grandparents 50 Years Ago,” March 19, 2015, accessed November 2017, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2015/03/19/how-millennials-compare-with-their-grandparents/#!10.
2. Bruce Drake, Pew Research Center, “6 New Findings About Millennials,” March 7, 2014, accessed November 2017, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/03/07/6-new-findings-about-millennials.
3. Richard Fry, Pew Research Center, “Millennials Still Lag in Forming their Own Households,” October 18, 2013, accessed November 2017, www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/18/millennials-still-lag-in-forming-their-own-households.

Tara Doyle has worked in social media and marketing for ABMP since 2015. She is a writer and can be contacted at tara@abmp.com.