Over half of the world's population is under 30 years of age.

Digital natives communicate differently, consume information and products differently, and build relationships with businesses differently. They have high BS radar and they are not afraid to speak up. They are global citizens and they rally around worthwhile causes like no other generation. They have unprecedented access to real-time data, content, and tools. They are today's cultural catalyst and their expectations of businesses are higher than ever before.

Matt Britton, the author of the new book "YouthNation: Building Remarkable Brands In A Youth-Driven Culture", calls this movement of millennials who possess disruptive power over business, culture, and politics YouthNation.

In his book Britton says: "Today, our nation's youth have become the driving force behind innovation, growth, and competitive advantage globally. Businesses have to embody the ideals of YouthNation, regardless of age or size, in order to succeed. The power and influence of YouthNation stands to dramatically shift every business, consumer, politician, nation, city, town, and village around the world."

How?

Here are just three ways millennials are disrupting your business.

1. From Collecting Things to Collecting Experiences

The rise of social sharing sparked the experience revolution, bringing forth the luster of friends doing epic things, recording every step of their journeys, and sharing them on social networks. Material items are not of value anymore, great experiences are now the new status symbol.

Tip: Businesses need to ask themselves how they are enabling amazing experiences for their customers consistently across variety of interactions and touchpoints to spark advocacy and long-term loyalty. More and more brands are investing money into surprise and delight, as well as "do" vs. "buy" marketing campaigns.

2. From Ownership to Renting and Sharing

The peer-to-peer sharing and bartering mentality of YouthNation is seriously impacting the way the products and services are being consumed. ZipCar allows you to rent cars for an hour, Rent the Runway allows you to rent beautiful gowns for the night, Yerdel allows you to donate used goods in exchange for credits used to purchase other people's used goods, etc.

A study by UC Berkley revealed that one shared car in the marketplace results in lost auto sales of over $270,000, the number that doesn't even take into consideration lost revenue in gas, parking, etc. That's no chump change.

Tip: Businesses need to ask themselves how their business models need to evolve not only to survive, but to thrive in the next decade. Avis, for example, recognized the tides of change in the industry and bought ZipCar in 2013, thus ensuring the evolution of their business vs. its future demise.

3. From the Power of an Individual to the Power of the Crowd

YouthNation is all about communities and bringing people together around a common passion or cause, as well as collaboration and co-creation. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer collaboration are becoming more and more popular. Millennials look for participation vs. being a passive observer, they want to help companies (and each other) shape their brands and their future. Hence, the rise of crowdsourcing--a win/win for both consumers and companies alike. Businesses with closed and controlling mentality will hurt in the long run.

Tip: Businesses that will invite their advocates in (either their customers or their employees), will reap amazing benefits. Case in point: GE. Struggling to design lighter and cost-efficient jet engine brackets, GE turned to GrabCAD, a community of millions of engineers, for help. It awarded $7,000 to an Indonesian engineer who came up with a solution to reduce a weight of the bracket from five pounds to .72, something that might have cost GE thousands, if not millions, of dollars in R&D to come up with a solution on their own. Amazing!

So don't overlook the power of YouthNation and the disruption it brings with it. Doing so may be fatal for your business. Don't become the Blockbuster of this decade, rather be the Netflix.

Published on: Apr 24, 2015