From being dubbed the most self-absorbed generation ever and rejecting “traditional” life paths to being tethered to their mobile devices, there have been endless generalizations made about millennials. The latest research [released by IRI™] examines the myths versus realities of millennials and finds not only that there are misconceptions, but also that millennials are in fact much more unique than first meets the eye. Painting them with broad brushstrokes can be dangerous. One fact is certain: millennials are the most racially diverse, highly educated generation in history. Paying attention to their needs and customizing messages is critical.
While this newly released research is targeted to consumer marketers, there are many take-aways for those of us in the nonprofit world, including:
To thoroughly understand millennials, one needs to first recognize that millennials are much more than the sum of their stereotypes. To have a better perspective on their attitudes, IRI looked at the top five myths:
- The “Me Me Me” Generation: Everyone can be a bit self-absorbed at times, but this label doesn’t completely fit millennials. The reality is that 90 percent equate success with being a good friend, 68 percent equate success with working for a cause they believe in (compared to 56 percent for Generation X and 58 percent for baby boomers), and 58 percent equate success with being of service/contributing to their community.
- Avoiding the “Traditional” Path: Millennials are embracing “traditional” on their own terms and timeline. Overall, 73 percent are employed, 28 percent are married, 37 percent own a home and 38 percent have kids. Even though success does follow many traditional paths, the key difference is that the timing of millennials’ life stage milestones isn’t as linear as previous generations.
- Tied to Mobile Devices 24/7: As the first generation of digital natives, millennials are definitely comfortable with technology. However, not all are early adopters or constantly connected. For instance, 48 percent say they would be able to function without their smartphones, 45 percent say they’re early adopters of new technology and 29 percent regularly use a mobile app to pay for purchases.
- No Brand Loyalty: Millennials are loyal to brands that prove themselves worthy, but they also enjoy the hunt for a good deal. Overall, 44 percent say they are loyal to brands they buy, and 52 percent will choose quality over price. However, two-thirds are working with limited grocery budgets, so a good number are value conscious by necessity.
- Traditional Marketing Doesn’t Work: It’s true that millennials are strongly influenced by recommendations through social media, blogs, product reviews or other online resources. On the flip side, 66 percent also respond to loyalty cards/discounts, 65 percent to couponing and 50 percent to store circulars – all traditional marketing tactics.
The Six Unique Faces of Millennials
IRI research uncovered that millennials do not fall neatly into one bucket. Instead, the following six distinct segments were revealed:
- Free Spirits: Thirteen percent of millennials are young, single, college-educated trendsetters who are impulsive and social.
- Struggling Wanderers: Twenty-one percent are not highly educated, are struggling financially and are not strongly digitally connected.
- New Traditionalists: Twenty-two percent are educated, affluent millennials who are married, are values-driven and have good financial habits.
- Concerned Aspirationalists: Thirteen percent are moms who are both cash- and time-strapped. They are social media devotees and are convenience- and price-driven.
- Conscious Naturalists: Fifteen percent are eco-conscious moms who desire minimally processed foods and prefer locally grown. They also are less digitally reliant and are fiscally cautious.
- Confident Connectors: Seventeen percent are ethnically diverse, socially conscious leaders who are digitally savvy and shop in specialty stores.