Millennials’ unique upbringing and preferences set them apart from any generation before them, making them a mystery to academics and marketers alike. For the generation born between 1980 and 2000, everything from entertainment to socializing to dining has become digitized and on-demand, defying traditional expectations for their lifestyle choices and spending habits. However, an infographic by Goldman-Sachs helps to explain the social, economic, and cultural factors that inform the Millennial point of view.
Millennials are Connected
One of the biggest factors contributing to the Millennial mindset is the fact that they are “digital natives.” They experienced the tech boom firsthand and grew up with the first home-based computers, the first chat rooms, and the first live online videogames. Message boards evolved into whole online communities and instant communication became the standard. Now, there are social media platforms for dating, organizing, event planning, and more. They are also sharing more of their real-life social events online; photos and videos are taken and posted or even live-streamed during concerts, dinners, and parties. The internet and human connection have become inseparable.
Millennials are Safety-Conscious
Forbes reports that violent crime has been steeply, consistently declining every year since millennials were born (which completely undercuts the narrative that video games cause violence). Similarly, they were born amidst an economic explosion that has brought unprecedented prosperity to all of the developed world. By just about every measure, they live in the most incredible time to be alive in human history.
Without the social or emotional context of the tumult of earlier decades and centuries, many millennials have come expect the status quo or a world superior to the status quo. For example, according to ProtectYourHome.com, alarm systems are less popular with millennials, because home safety is simply an expectation. When it comes to prosperity and safety, only the best will do. Some commentators have described this view as “spoiled” or “entitled,” but can millennials really be held responsible for expecting the best that society has to offer when it is all they have ever experienced?
Millennials are Critical
The move from traditional media to peer-to-peer networking has stymied advertisers in goods and services, and helped to breed myths about Millennials like that they aren’t brand-loyal, says Dan Schwabel in Forbes. Based on the research, he says, the truth is the opposite; Millennials are extremely brand-loyal, but they are highly discerning about the companies they support. They expect brands to give back to society and be environmentally responsible, as well as to have an active presence on social media. They are well-educated and politically progressive, and use blogs or user reviews to research products and companies before spending their money.
Millennials are Consumers
However, they are spending money, “with $200 billion in annual buying power” according to Forbes. But those dollars are going less towards ownership and more towards access; says Goldman-Sachs, this change in attitude has spawned a “sharing economy.” Whether ordering food, riding to work, or living with roommates instead of buying a home, Millennials tend to ‘go in’ on things like group dinners, ride-sharing, streaming services, and costly recreational activities. The 2008 financial crisis, the recession that followed, and high rates of unemployment and student debt make thriftiness the name of the game, but Millennials also reject crass consumerism and believe that quality should be accessible and affordable.
Millennials make up about one-fourth of the American population, and are set to reshape the U.S economy with their unique set of values, goals, and principles.