Meet the millennials Download the report

It’s fair to say that millennials have had a bit of a glow up in recent years. Now in their ‘adulting’ era, they’ve seriously outgrown the unfavorable stereotypes of being snowflakes and serial renters. In fact, many are now managers, parents, and homeowners. 

As they approach their 40s, we’re taking a deep dive into the characteristics of millennials to understand what makes them unique, and provide insight into how you can score a direct hit with them.

Who are millennials?

Before we get into it, let’s take it from the top. Who exactly are we talking about when we say millennials? Let’s explain. Millennials are the generation born between the early 1980s to the mid 1990s, sandwiched between Gen X and Gen Z. They’re currently aged between 27-40. 

Top characteristics of millennials

  1. They’re influential in the workplace
  2. They’re confident with technology
  3. They’re cautious about their personal data 
  4. They’re quietly optimistic about the environment
  5. They’ve avid savers 
  6. They love to travel 
  7. They’re nostalgic 
  8. They’re competitive 
  9. They’re obsessed with podcasts

1. They’re influential in the workplace

When it comes to millennials in the workplace, it’s safe to say they’ve earned their stripes. There are more millennials in the workplace than ever before; 79% are in full-time employment, up 32% since 2015. 

Over 1 in 4 millennials are in management roles. 

So what does this mean for businesses? Due to their newfound seniority, building connections with millennials is key for B2B brands looking to win new business. 37% of millennials who work full time are decision makers in their role, so if you want to get onside, it pays to understand millennials. 

2. They’re confident with technology

Millennials stand out from other generations for being confident using new technology. 46% of millennials say this, more than any other generation, even Gen Z, who’ve never known a world without it.

This confidence extends to AI with 45% of millennials saying they’re excited about it. Rather than seeing it as a potential threat, they’re optimistic about how it can be used for good, especially in the workplace. They’re actually 12% more likely than average to believe it’ll allow employees to save time on tasks.

3. They’re cautious about their personal data 

While they might be confident with new technology, the same can’t be said when it comes to their personal data. 30% of millennials say they’re worried about how companies use their personal data online, highlighting a need for greater transparency from brands if they want to win over this generation.

Interestingly, millennials are less worried about how their government tracks them online (only 19% say this), which may suggest they’re more concerned with their personal data falling into the wrong hands and scams that could hurt them financially. 

4. They’re quietly optimistic about the environment 

Overall, millennials care about the environment, and like Gen Z, they’re quietly optimistic about the future of the planet. 46% say they think the environment will get better in the next six months, and it seems they’re willing to contribute to the cause. 35% say they always try to recycle, and 59% say they’d rather pay more for an eco-friendly version of a product, the highest figure of any generation.

A standout characteristic of millennials compared to other generations is their attitude towards who’s responsible for helping the planet. They’re much less likely to say it’s up to brands; just 39% of millennials say they want brands to be eco-friendly, the lowest figure of any generation. So if you’re trying to impress your audience with your eco-credentials, it might not have the desired effect with millennials. 

5. They’re avid savers 

That’s right, the generation most berated for frivolous spending (who remembers avocado-gate?) are actually pretty savvy with their finances. 36% of millennials say they’re good at managing money, which is higher than Gen Z (34%) and even Gen X (33%).

Financial security is important to millennials (61% say this, globally) which may go some way in explaining their saving habits. 

Across 12 markets, nearly 1 in 3 millennials that save every month say they put away at least 26% of their monthly income – the most of any generation.

That said, on the whole, they still have far less in the pot than older generations; 34% of millennials who save monthly say their savings would cover their basic living expenses for six months or more, compared to 40% of Gen X and 43% of baby boomers who say the same. 

Despite their propensity to save, the good news for brands is millennials aren’t immune to an occasional splurge. They’re still the most likely to make luxury purchases so high-end brands still stand to benefit from targeting millennials. 

6. They love to travel 

One thing’s for sure, millennials love a vacation. And with the number of millennials that say they’re planning to purchase a vacation abroad up 22% from last quarter, that’s unlikely to change any time soon. While they may be keen savers, they simply can’t resist splurging on a vacay. Who can blame them?

Being interested in travel is a defining characteristic of zillennials in particular. Those on the cusp of Gen Y and Gen Z are known for splashing out on luxury goods and instagrammable vacations, while living at home with their parents, often rent-free. 

When it comes to millennials’ travel preferences and what they look for in a vacation, they stand out for saying they’re influenced by good facilities for children or families, and for enjoying holidays at theme parks, (Peppa Pig World, anyone?). This is perhaps unsurprising considering many are now parents. 

While some are living their best lives and splashing out on, others are prioritizing family fun, so there’s no one size fits all for travel brands looking to target millennials. 

7. They’re nostalgic

From Friends reruns and Disney revivals, to retro logos and Barbie, if it evokes nostalgia, there’s a good chance millennials will love it. While Gen Z are known for their love of 90s and 00s fashion, a key characteristic of millennials is their fondness of nostalgic media. 

The top media types millennials say they feel nostalgic for are movies (34% say this), followed by music and tv shows, but they stand out from other generations for saying they’re nostalgic for video games

For brands looking to make their move on millennials, nostalgia is a great place to start. 59% of millennials like it when they see brands or companies use old ads or logos, so creating nostalgic ads are sure to pique the interest of this generation. Don’t forget the 90s soundtrack.

8. They’re competitive 

Millennials are huge gaming fans. They may be older but they spend just as much time as Gen Z on games consoles. But what sets them apart from Gen Z is their reasons for playing. For Gen Z, it’s a social thing, but for millennials, it’s about competing. 

That may explain their interest in esports. Millennials are 31% more likely than the average gamer to be extremely interested in esports, making them a prime audience for esports brands to tap into. 

9. They’re obsessed with podcasts 

Podcasts are a big hit with millennials. In fact, they spend more time listening to podcasts than any other generation. Not only do they tune in for longer, but they’re also the most likely to discover new brands from podcasts. 

If you’re wondering where to target them, their top genres are comedy, music, and TV & film, but what sets them apart? Millennials stand out from other generations for listening to parents and family, gaming and technology podcasts. 

Hitting the mark with millennials 

Many millennials are reaching major life milestones such as becoming parents and homeowners, while others are flexing their spending muscles on luxury travel and tech. 

While this may present new challenges for brands, it also opens up new avenues and targeting opportunities to tap into. Brands should consider how they can align with their new priorities, and explore new channels to reach them where they are now. 

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