The Connected Millennial- How the 21st Century will be shaped by Wi-Fi
The millennial generation started in the 80’s, spanned to the twenty-first century, and is primarily defined by the extreme factors technology has played in molding their lifestyle. Due to this, they have adopted some of the characteristics of the previous generation, but also strive to keep up with the influence technology has on their life. This is most exemplified in the constant need to stay connected with social media, instant messaging, and photos of everywhere they go. Growing along with the generation came a new form of technology, cutting off restrictive wires that limited mobility and connectedness- Wi-Fi.
The importance of Wi-Fi in these lives comes from three separate factors that have dramatically changed the world. The first is the increasing globalized world, in which everything is a new adventure and ideas, entertainment and art is easily accessed from anywhere in the world. This necessitates a system that can connect them all, and a popular herd mentality drives the importance of staying connected.
A second factor is mobilization, where smartphones have made a dramatic impact upon the market. For the millennial generation, 77% of them own smartphones and almost 50% of them check their smartphones every five minutes. Smartphone applications are primarily geared towards connectivity, and thus Wi-Fi is essential to most of these millennials. According to Phillip Houghton, a Chair of the STAY WYSE Executive Board, “it’s an essential accommodation feature”. It is generally one of the key influences upon business ratings, and free Wi-Fi has evolved from a luxury to a general necessity.
The final factor, which displays why Wi-Fi is so important to the millennial generation, is the rise of narcissistic culture. This phenomenon is caused by a massive marketing campaign on the self, obvious everywhere. Advertisements for beauty products, a new liberal movement focusing on identity, and the spread of the freedom of expression to ridiculous levels spur millennials to focus upon themselves primarily. This means that they need to always be connected and tell every personal detail to the world, and thus constant Wi-Fi connection is incredibly important to them.
Now, we realize the importance of Wi-Fi in connecting with these millennials, but what is the impact? In fact, it seems that the availability of Wi-Fi changes how companies are viewed by these potential customers. The focus for these people, between the ages of 18 and 34, while searching for a hotel seems to be free and reliable Wi-Fi. This is rated higher than anything else about the hotel industry, including lodging size and breakfast availability. It seems as if the prioritization in these minds is geared towards focusing on finding Wi-Fi as a priority. There are whole websites and tour guides dedicated to labelling different hotels with different Wi-Fi speeds. Together, these different motivations to have better and faster Wi-Fi force companies to either get better Wi-Fi or lose.
However, there are many places in which companies can improve how they utilize Wi-Fi most effectively. For example, currently airplanes are implementing on-board Wi-Fi, but the process is still in the making. It is seen to be widely popular as millennials can now tweet, write emails, download movies and chat with friends while on long trips. It seems inevitable that, unless some superior technology or massive event causes us to move away from Wi-Fi, it will remain a driving force in the market for years to come.
What will come then? What Google has recently done in Sri Lanka offers an answer. They launched Internet balloons over the whole country, allowing free Internet to be spread without traditional Wi-Fi ranges. This method, although still early in the making, is sure to be profitable and eventually move away towards larger and larger countries. In the end, what will determine the most profitable companies and best market strategies in the coming decades will not necessarily be technological innovation, but rather more unique ways to make the world more connected utilizing Wi-Fi for today’s millennials.