Although conventional wisdom and primary results from the 2016 U.S. Presidential election indicate that Bernie Sanders is attracting a major segment of a disaffected millennial generation, one fact continues to stand out in our recent survey of the social, economic and political views of a very broad spectrum of American entrepreneurs under 30.
While it is true that younger voters are more inclined to welcome change than their elders, our survey spotlighted that they are more traditional and conventional than they are usually pictured by much of the media. In one defining response, a formidable 86% said they were "very confident" about their future earning potential while expressing almost equal confidence in the growth of the companies that employed them.
A detailed questionnaire that our large millennials sampling answered turned up some revealing and reassuring statistical data about their beliefs and preferences. First and foremost perhaps, the vast majority still believe in the possibilities and opportunities expressed in “The American Dream.” To one-third of the recipients that meant “owning their own company some day.” Nine percent even declared they wanted "to become incredibly wealthy."
Only a tiny fraction replied that they still lived with their parents and an imposing 80% disclosed that they were active in community affairs. Virtually all remain totally optimistic, purpose-driven and highly entrepreneurial. They are also notably idealistic with nearly 50% asserting that their goal in life and career is “to change the world for the better.” By any measure, however, it would be hard to describe them as “revolutionary” or “radical,” underscored by the fact that almost all fell into the category of “upward mobile.”
Yes, young people want change in their lives today, but they are not mounting any barricades and, in some instances, are more conservative than many of their elders. The survey suggests that they still uphold all the basic tenets of democratic capitalism that have made this nation exceptional for well over two centuries.
In many ways, as a demographic group, millennials mirror current popular trends. For example, some 79% in our survey confirmed the current national move towards urbanization, affirming that they now live in or plan to live in cities rather than rural or small town localities. Asked what are the “biggest challenges facing the world today,” their responses were almost equally divided. Twenty-seven percent replied global warming; 24% stated terrorism and 22% said the economy and future recession.
Avid users of social media, Facebook, by far, is their No. 1 choice for posting content followed by Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat. Video clips, primarily news segments, are overwhelmingly their favorite smartphone content. It's noteworthy that more than half said they did not pay for access to TV on their television sets or the Internet. Citing The New York Times and CNN among the top five most preferred news publishers, some 67% replied they still got most of their news directly from trusted web sites. Only 25% reported that TV was their prime source of news.
Just 47% of respondents stated they now paid for cable TV service, suggesting that the current move to cord-cutting is already well underway amongst younger folk, many of whom seem to have avoided cable from the start of their independent lives.
Apple at 80% remains the cohort's leading choice for a cellphone over dozens of other providers, largely because of its superior design. Interestingly, some 30% said they had no need or desire to own an automobile no matter the cost or their income.
Not unexpectedly, 65% acknowledged that they do most of their shopping online on laptops. An imposing 44% of those queried also held that funding an entrepreneurial endeavor represented their No. 1 current financial priority.
Whatever conclusions one may draw from the scores of responses we received, one fact appears inarguable: young people today want to continue working within the system they grew up in, only “make it better.”