Millennials Aren't Kids Anymore; Plurals Are

by , May 4, 2012, 7:19 AM
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For years, we marketers have taken for granted that we know kids today. We have known that the youth of this country is comprised of Millennials. 

We’ve known that kids like their parents and have a close relationship with them. In fact, their parents are friends, even confidants. We’ve known they are smart and brought test and achievement scores up. We’ve known school is cool and being a “good” kid is even cooler. We’ve known they have “dates” to play with their friends and they get a trophy just for being on the soccer team. We’ve known they are optimistic, confident and happy. We’ve known they weren’t rebellious in the way their older siblings, Generation X, were. In short, we’ve known they are more “High School Musical” than “The Breakfast Club.” 

But, what about now? Has anything changed? 

The answer is yes. 

The key change, one that marketers often overlook, is that Millennials just aren’t kids anymore. In fact, according to our Millennial Life Stage Segmentation, only one in ten Millennials (11% of Millennials or approximately 10 million) isn’t an official adult (i.e., is under the age of 18). Approximately 13 million, or 15%, are college students and about 12 million, or 14%, are in flux – not working or married, but don’t have kids. The majority of Millennials are “grown-ups” in the way society tends to define them—they are working (36% or 31 million) or parents (24% or 21 million). 

Millennials are no longer the youth population in this country, which means there’s a new generation of youth for marketers to know. 

Presenting the Pluralist Generation.

The oldest Plural is 14, turning 15 in 2012. The youngest is a newborn. 

Their name has meaning, just as all generational names do.  It reflects the lack of majority in today’s American society and the increased fragmentation sure to come. This is felt in nearly all facets of life—families, media, communication, religion, politics and especially demographics. 

Plurals are America’s last generation to have a Caucasian majority, and based on immigration projections, they will also be America’s first generation to be pluralistic, or have no majority race. Their own ethnic composition is a catalyst for the overall ethnic transition in our country. In 2019, less than 50% of live births in this country will Caucasian. In 2042, just 30 years from now, our entire population will be less than 50% Caucasian. Plurals are being raised in the environment of change and, in their 30s and early 40s, they will be the ones managing the transition into a truly pluralistic society. 

Add in the following, and there is a remarkably different environment of upbringing for this generation of youth than the one Millennials experienced:

  • The consumer-centric Internet (think Amazon, Google, YouTube and Facebook) is all they will ever know
  • The changing definition of marriage and family (same-sex marriage has been legalized in eight states)
  • An African-American president is the first president most of them will remember 
  • The worst economic decline since the Depression 

That’s not to mention they are being raised by an entirely different generation of parents. Their parents are Xers, not Boomers. Without question that is going to create children who see the world differently. 

Marketers, it’s time to stop thinking of Millennials as kids. America’s kids are Plurals. Now let’s start to get to know them. 

3 comments on "Millennials Aren't Kids Anymore; Plurals Are ".

  1. H. Meyer from GolinHarris
    commented on: May 4, 2012 at 11:41 a.m.
    Glad someone is moving us forward in generational marketing. So "Plurals" are the newest cusp generation, in the same way that 'Generation Jones' referred to the cusp of Boomers/Xers? As an advocate of Strauss & Howe, you undoubtedly recognize cusp differences in behaviors and attitudes. Howe states that the next distinct generation will have been born after 2005 (up to 7 years old today). These kids will be an Artist archetype, and we can expect the same kind of creativity in popular culture (movies, music, media) from them as we saw from the Silent Generation (born 1925-1942). Looking forward to your discussion of how these cuspers and the next Artist generation evolve as marketing subjects.
  2. Sharalyn Hartwell from Frank N Magid Associates, Inc.
    commented on: May 4, 2012 at 12:20 p.m.
    Absolutely. Thank you, @H. Meyer. We too subscribe to most of S&H's theories and premise. We just think the cusp is a little smaller and the actual generation starts a little earlier. Plurals absolutely are an Artist/Adaptive generation. The biggest thing right now is they are the children of Xers...that changes everything from a marketing standpoint. They are being trained by their parents to be more pragmatic than Millennials were.
  3. dagi omega from Tim Hortons
    commented on: October 10, 2012 at 7:25 p.m.
    I believe a pluralist should be someone born from 1999 to 2012 because people born in 1997 or 1998 are likely to remember George Bush Jr. and the ones born in 1997 will not have any experience of elementary school in the 2010s. May of the teens born in 1997 and 1998 remember a time before facebook and teens born in 1997 were in school during 9/11 and therefore can probably recall a time of chaos during the attacks. They might also remember a time listening to music before youtube because they were around 8 when it started. My source is me Born in 97

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