In One Massively Important Way, Millennials Don’t Fit Their Stereotype
I went hunting recently. Not in my deer stand like usual, but out in big data land. The much-maligned term “millennial” had been stuck on repeat in my head, and I wanted to dig into why this particular demographic label has devolved into more or less a caricature of ultimate laziness.
As I work almost daily with businesses to better understand their target audiences and how best to communicate with them, millennials come up often in our strategy discussions. Like it or not, this generation represents massive buying power and is, therefore, crucial to almost every advertiser. What I hear during these conversations are the same stereotypical knee-jerk reactions — or beliefs — about millennials:
- They are self-absorbed
- Foolish with money
- Not long-term planners
- Still dependent on parents
We’ve been force fed these ideas so much and so often that they have become beliefs. We believe millennials are lazy, selfish and financially illiterate. I admit I’ve fallen into this trap, too. In fact, I’m quite sure I’ve stated more than once that millennials are an “unproven” generation, and their spending habits are uniquely mysterious.
But the more I thought about it, I realized that we can assign these qualities to every new generation that comes along. Ironically, it’s the lazy way out. It gives us a free pass to avoid doing the hard work of research and discovery to understand who millennials really are and what motivates them.
Financially, The Millennials Are Alright
So, I went on a search to bring credibility to the millennial generation, and I am happy to say I was rewarded with a new sense of appreciation. I found many supporting studies that confirmed what I secretly suspected all along — Millenials are quite different than our knee-jerk reactions. Heck, they may be better off than my generation (I’m Gen X for those that are curious).
The best report I uncovered come from Bank of America’s “2018 Better Money Habits Millennial Report.” While the source may seem biased, their findings echo the similar reports I scoured through from multiple other sources.
What I found most interesting — and most enlightening— was how their financial instincts and motivations are directly tied to the economic and employment markets they were born into. Millennials entered the workforce during one of the most severe economic downturns since the Great Depression.
With that in mind, here are some key findings about millenials that may surprise you… and broaden your thinking when it comes to positioning and marketing strategy.
Millennial financial habits are just as good (or better) than other generations:
- 63% are saving
- 54% are budgeting
- 57% have a savings goal 59% feel financially secure
How much are Millenials saving?
- 47% have $15,000 or more in savings
- 16% have $100,000 or more in saving
In spite of the evidence, millennials buy into the negative stereotypes about themselves:
- 64% say their generation is bad at managing money
- 73% say their generation overspends
As an employer, one additional factor noted in the Bank of America report does not surprise me — millennials are bold. While only 36% of my generation (Gen X) has asked for a raise within the last two years, 80% of millenials have asked for a raise within that same time period. For employers, that may be frustrating, but for businesses looking to sell to this segment, it means they are always seeking more dollars… which turns into increased purchasing power.
Soon we’ll begin the conversation about Generation Z, the people born between the mid 1990s and the early 2000s. These young adults just entering the workforce already represent 25% of the U.S. Population. They will have their own nuances — and stereotypes — that all advertising professionals will need to understand. I look forward to it.