New Ipsos MORI research shows that Millennials are indeed the most derided generation; globally, the top three characteristics people assign to this cohort are tech-savvy (54%), materialistic (45%) and selfish (39%). But they’re also a self-hating generation. The top three characteristics Millennials ascribe to themselves are also tech-savvy (54%), materialistic (44%) and selfish (37%). In contrast Baby Boomers are seen as respectful (47%), work-centric (41%) and community-oriented (32%).
This is one of many new findings about the Millennial cohort, identified in a new report from Ipsos MORI: “Millennial Myths and Realities”. New research highlights include:
- Millennials are not health freaks: Although evidence suggests they exercise more than older generations did at the same age, Millennials are a less healthy Generation. In England, their consumption of added sugars is 10g per day higher than Gen X at a comparable point (65 vs 55g) – and just under half (48%) of this generation in England are a healthy weight, a deterioration when compared against Gen X (53% of whom were a healthy weight at the same age)
- Millennials are the most materialistic generation: A new analysis of the European Social Survey shows that across Europe, those aged 21-37 are more likely to agree with a range of materialistic statements. This is especially true in the UK, where 24% say it is important to be rich, compared with 13% of Generation X and 10% of Baby Boomers.
- Millennials are not lazy workers: We compare average hours worked per week the General Social Survey in America, the British Social Attitudes for Britain, and the ALLBUS survey in Germany, and find that there is very little difference between Millennials and their Gen X colleagues when the latter were a similar age.
- Facebook is not dead to Millennials: New analysis of the Ipsos MORI Tech Tracker in Britain shows that Millennials remain substantially more likely to use Facebook than older generations – 81% have used it recently, compared to 64% of Gen Xers. Splitting the Millennial generation, younger Millennials (born 1991 onwards) are even more likely to use Facebook, at 89%.
- Millennials do still trust and respond to advertising. Contrary to commonly held views, the Ipsos Global Trends Survey 2017 finds that Millennials are more likely to say they pay attention to a wide range of advertising channels. 48% of Millennials say they pay at least a little attention to cinema ads compared with 41% of Generation X and under a third of Baby Boomers (31%), and the same is true for mobile ads (Millennials 34%; Gen X 26%; Baby Boomers 18%).
- Brand ethics are not the key to winning over Millennials. Compared with Generation X when they were younger, Millennials are no more likely to have boycotted a product (16% for Millennials in 2015, versus 17% for Gen X in 1999), and less likely to have chosen a product because of a company’s responsible behaviour – 12% said they had done this, compared to 17% of Generation X.
- Millennials do trust institutions. Again, contrary to the commonly held view, the data shows that Millennials are, if anything, more trusting of governments and those in authority – 55% of British Millennials say they trust economists to tell the truth, over 50% of Gen X and 39% of Baby Boomers, whilst in the US in 2014, 25% of Millennials trusted the Federal Government, compared with 19% of Gen X and 14% of Baby Boomers. However, they are less trusting of other people; for instance, in the US 20% say they feel other people can be trusted, compared with 39% of Baby Boomers.
Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of the Ipsos MORI Social Research Institute and author of the report, said:
Millennials are a fascinating cohort, and vital for business and governments to understand – but for very different reasons from the myths and clichés that are often attached to them. They are no longer that young, or the leading edge of new tastes and concerns. They are not snowflakes, health freaks, or brand purpose warriors. They are, instead, a huge cohort with diversifying tastes and concerns, but some distinct, generational characteristics heading towards their most economically powerful phase. They face unprecedented economic challenges in the West and unprecedented opportunity in emerging markets – but whatever your focus, business and government need to ignore the myths and memes and start engaging with the real Millennials.