Out of touch corporate America proves we need millennial CEOs

(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

The business world is in need of younger leaders. This is more obvious than ever due to a slideshow posted by the Wall Street Journal, which shows a collection of quotes from American corporate chief executive officers (CEOs) discussing what they have learned about millennial preferences.

The slideshow, which took into account a year’s worth of company transcripts, found that brand names such as “old” and “early” appeal to millennials. It also found that millennials covet color cosmetics, crave high-end fast food, and yearn to live in the suburbs.

Almost comically, CEOs have also discovered that those born between 1980 and the early 2000s love to grill, snack, and watch movies.

“Millennials are over indexing on charcoal grilling because they like the charcoal grilling experience and, of course, it’s also cheaper than buying a gas grill,” notes Clorox CEO Benno Dorer.

Stephen Colbert saw the same infographic slideshow and couldn’t resist poking fun at the corporate executives scrambling to learn millennials’ tastes.

“Wow, that is some cutting edge market research. My sources tell me that millennials enjoy sex and oxygen,” Colbert jested on Monday night.

Colbert certainly has a point. The market research found results so obvious that it must be satire.

“Our consumer research has indicated that millennials want new flavors and textures,” says former Hershey CEO John Bilbrey.

Aren’t you glad that America’s best businessmen and women have finally learned that young people enjoy different types of candy?

This embarrassing lack of understanding could easily be avoided if the corporate world would have more young people in leadership positions.

A 2016 analysis by Korn Ferry, which describes itself as the preeminent global people and organizational advisory firm, found that the average CEO (and other C-suite roles) is in their 50s.

Facebook and other tech companies may have CEOs in their 30s, but that is certainly not the norm.

Sure, having an older, seasoned leader definitely comes with many benefits, but companies (and especially advertisers) are constantly grappling with how to appeal to 18-to-29-year-olds.

What better way to appeal to millennials than having one at the helm?

If a board of governors doesn’t want to take the risk of appointing younger people to high-level positions, then it would at least be a good idea to hire millennial consultants to explain trends and conduct research.

Then companies wouldn’t have to waste time and money learning silly things like millennials enjoy snacking throughout the day, especially on cereal.


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