Understanding Millennial Insights
Chances are if you’re reading this, you are not a Millennial. But truly understanding this up-and-coming generation (born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s) is keenly important to marketers today. An abundance of opinions—and vast generalizations—about their habits, inclinations and foibles seem to be everywhere. But what are some real Millennial insights that can be drawn from real consumers in this category?
We asked a group of savvy Millennials to reveal some insights about their lifestyles and mindsets.
In an attempt to move past the myriad generalizations, a few Ideas To Go facilitators combined their expertise in consumer understanding with the articulate skills of our talented Millennial-aged Creative Consumers® associates. They conducted a session and asked these savvy Millennials to reveal some insights about their lifestyles and mindsets—and the new opportunities they see for their generation. After sorting through their responses, we identified six themes that seemed to rise to the top.
We’ll examine these insights further below, while providing some illuminating facts and figures—and explain how we see the data and insights come together to create some real possibilities. Because it’s one thing to say you generally get what Millennials are about…and another to actually talk to a few for deeper understanding.
The Millennial generation has been marketed to their whole lives—not just in print, radio, and television mediums—but also online, on their phones, on the shows/movies they watch, and across social media. And despite their life-long immersion in marketing, Millennials have a more positive view of it than other generations—studies show 68% don’t mind advertising.
- 68% don't mind advertising.
- 60% believe companies should offer more ways for consumers to share opinions.
- 40% want to co-create with companies.
What we heard our Creative Consumers® associate Millennials object to, however, is when companies treat them merely as consumers to be marketed to. One obvious reason why: Millennials are aware of how the world works—and they know companies want to sell to them.
Additionally, Millennials are creators. The last few years have seen the rise of a “Maker Revolution” with events like Maker Faire, and websites like Pinterest and Etsy. But Millennials don’t want to just make things on their own—they want to create with the companies and brands that they love. Over 60% believe that companies should offer more ways for consumers to share their opinions, and 40% want to get their hands dirty co-creating with companies. (1,2)
- 40% express their individuality with tattoos.
- 75% describe themselves as "authentic."
When Millennials were young—as with teens in previous generations—it was all about fitting in. They wore Abercrombie and Nike. They flocked to see the Spice Girls and N’Sync en masse. But as Millennials grew up, their feelings changed. Today, more than any other generation, they desire to be seen as unique within a group. Once mad for popular brands like Tommy Hilfiger, now a majority of Millennials reject trends to develop their own personal clothing style. (3) Nearly 40% have gone beyond clothes to express their individuality with a tattoo. (4) Three-fourths describe themselves as “authentic.” (5) Brands like Chipotle, which offer customers complete customization of their entrees, are Millennial favorites.
That’s why companies are allowing their consumers to custom design products from ground up. Custom shoe manufacturer Shoes of Prey is getting attention because it allows women to customize heels – from height to color to embellishments. And Nike’s website lets athletes do everything from personalizing their favorite Nike shoes with their own colors and accents to building the perfect Nike Free running shoe for their foot.
- 6 out of 10 believe that losing their car would have less negative impact on their lives than losing their phone or computer.
- 53% interact with brands on social networks.
- 43% have Liked more than 20 brands on Facebook.
Millennials have grown up in a connected world. The oldest participated in the birth of the social Internet, learning to type while chatting with friends on AOL Instant Messenger. (6) As college students, they threw themselves into Facebook. Today, Millennials are more connected than ever before with a slew of social media options ranging from Instagram, to Twitter, to Snapchat and TikTok. In fact, six out of ten Millennials believe that losing their car would have less negative impact on their lives than losing their phone or computer. (7)
But Millennials don’t want to just be connected online, they want to be connected with the people and brands that are most important to their lives. 53% interact with brands they care about on social networks, compared to only 37% of non-Millennials. (8) Millennials not only want to connect with brands, they want to communicate to others that they like a brand. As one example, over 43% have publically liked more than 20 brands on Facebook. (9)
- Only 6 in 10 have jobs, if part-time jobs are included.
- 75% describe themselves as "very happy."
- 60+% consider themselves "entrepreneurs."
- 5th most popular job title listed by Millennials on Facebook is "owner."
The recession hit the Millennial generation hard. Despite the fact that Millennials today have a bigger economic impact than Generation X, they’re not where they should be—and they know it. Only 6 in 10 Millennials have jobs, if part-time jobs are included. (10) For every two who are making it on their own, one has moved back in with their parents because of the recession. (11) On average, Millennials carry debt loads of over $20,000—more if they took out education loans. (12)
More 18-35 year olds are unemployed or out of the workforce now than in the previous three decades. (13) But even though the recession has depressed their income, it hasn’t dimmed their optimism about the future. Three-fourths of Millennials describe themselves as “very happy.” (14)
They also show their optimism by using smart strategies that help them maximize the income they have. More Millennials live with roommates or family than alone. (15) They save money on necessities so they can splurge on the things they really want (like iPhones and Chipotle.) And when they can’t find jobs or can’t make enough with the jobs they have, Millennials are happy to strike out on their own. Over 60% of them consider themselves “entrepreneurs,” and the 5th most popular job title listed by Millennials on Facebook is “owner.” (16,17) Millennials may be economically stressed now, but this is a generation that believes it’s on the verge of something great.
- 90+% buy products that are associated with causes.
- Almost half will abandon brands they perceive to have ethics they don't agree with.
Over 6 in 10 Millennials report that they feel personally responsible for making a difference in the world. (18) Frustrated with government inaction, Millennials want businesses to solve society’s greatest problems. (19) And Millennials overwhelmingly believe that business success is more than just profits—and that companies should do more to address resource scarcity, climate change and income equality. (20)
Far more than any other generation, Millennials say that it’s very important that their purchases make them feel good about themselves. (21) Almost half of Millennials will abandon brands they perceive to have ethics that they don’t agree with. (22) Over ninety percent buy products that are associated with causes. (23) When price and quality are equal, 80% of Millennials will choose products from companies that support causes they care about. (24)
- 70% want to visit all seven continents.
- 75% enjoy food from cultures not their own.
- They're 2.5 times more likely to adopt new technology than older generations.
Millennials want their life to be exciting. They’re always looking for new places to visit and experience. They’re 23% more likely to be interested in traveling abroad than any other generation and 70% want to visit all seven continents. (25,26) But Millennials aren’t just seeking to bring adventure into their lives by travel. When they can’t hit the road, they look for ways to enrich their daily lives. Three-fourths enjoy food from cultures not their own, and over nine-tenths have tried a new beer in the last month. (27,28)
Millennials especially look for excitement in small things. They’re behind the rise of spicy flavors like cayenne, and responsible for the new fancy bread trend in fast food restaurants. (29,30) They also keep their eyes open for new technology – which they are 2.5 times more likely to adopt than older generations. (31) Millennials want their lives to be exciting, even if that excitement comes in small bits in their everyday lives.
How to use these Millennial insights
Over the next 10-15 years, there will be a dramatic shift in what consumers want as the Millennial generation becomes the greatest spending force in the US market. More and more Millennials will be advancing in their career, making big purchases, and beginning their families. Their spending habits will affect everyone from restaurants, to financial services, to producers of consumer packaged goods—and companies will need to find ways to adapt.
With so much at stake, it makes sense to check in with actual consumers in this segment early and often to see where they’re heading to next. In fact, the future of your business depends on it.
Each of the insights and questions we’ve outlined above suggest there are many valuable areas of opportunity for companies to explore—but this is merely one snapshot in the lives of a group known to abandon what’s “new” as quickly as they’re known to adopt. Millennials are a moving target—often changing their minds quicker than many marketers can keep up with. With so much at stake, it makes sense to check in with actual consumers in this segment early and often to see where they’re heading to next. In fact, the future of your business depends on it.
Get a taste of our Millennial insights session
Wondering what a session with our Millennial consumers looks like? This brief video lets you take a look behind-the-scenes as some of our Millennial Creative Consumers® associates try out a creative excursion.
22. http://na-sj01.marketo.com/lp/adroitdigital/Millennials_MillennialsLandingPageHomePage.html 23. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/trevor-neilson/philanthrop-and-millennia_b_3269238.html
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Ideas To Go is an innovation agency that leads start-ups to Fortune 500 companies through insights exploration, ideation, and idea and concept development while incorporating the voice of the consumer.