The Millennial Mystique

Tired of marketing to Baby Boomers who insist on wearing cargo shorts even while they have one foot in the grave? Here’s an audience with better actuarial prospects: the Millennials. But they’re an elusive bunch.

As with everyone, their favorite social network is Facebook. But they’re much less fiercely devoted to it than Boomers and Gen Xers, preferring to split their affections with Instagram and Snapchat, according to a new survey from Sprout Social.

And don’t think you can use email to market to them. Adestra found in a poll last year that 73% prefer email. But that may no longer be true. “Millennials are twice as likely as any other generation to turn to social, rather than phone or email, to communicate with a brand,” Sprout Social reports.

They are also more prone to getting rid of apps — 24% “always” delete them from companies they are satisfied with, and 14% often do so, according to a study by MarketingSherpa. In this way, they are more restive than Boomers or Gen Xers.

Oddly, only 26% always delete apps from companies that dissatisfy them, and here they are outranked by the older generations. Why do they delete? In some cases, because of a certain antipathy toward apps. MarketingSherpa reports that “42% of the Silent Generation and 31% of baby boomers said that mobile apps do not apply to them, and even 15% of Millennials and Gen Xers said the channel didn't apply to them.”

So what does all this mean for brands?  

Of the Millennials polled by Sprout Social, 46.8 follow brands in social media (slightly less than Gen Xers, but way more than Boomers, at 24.5%). Above all, they want entertainment value and information.  

Happily, 30% will engage with a brand in social media at least once a month. And all three generations follow a brand in social before purchasing a product.

Yet Millennials are more likely than their elders to “unfollow” a brand out because of a bad experience, but less so if a communication is “spammy” or offensive.

Granted, none of this is news to Millennials running brands and companies (of which there are many). 

Our conclusion? Invest in social media, offer relevant content and excellent customer service, and track the chatter.

All this leads to the question: What do Millennials want out of life? They want income and job flexibility, but they’re drawn to professions in which positions are scarce: in technology, entertainment and education, according to a recent global survey by the International Youth Foundation and the Center for Strategic International Studies.

But they are optimistic. Overall, 74% believe they will get the kind of job they want, and 65% believe they will make as much money as they want (a figure that drops to 56% in the United States). And 88% believe they will do the same as or better than their parents.

If there’s one thing they want, though, it’s basic healthcare. Of those surveyed globally, 33% feel they can get healthcare when they need it, compared with 24% for middle-income and 12% for high-income consumers.

In the U.S., 17% strongly disagree that they can get healthcare when needed, compared with 19% in Europe, 29% in Russia and 36% in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Not that they expect much from governments. On a global basis, only 33% strongly agree that their government cares about their wants and needs. In the U.S., a mere 27% are in accord with this view.

What are their general fears about life? Here there seems to be a gender split. Males worry about terrorism (46%), war (36%) gangs or drug cartels (32%) road and traffic safety (33%). Females are concerned with sexual harassment and/or violence (52%), terrorism (45%), violence, abuse, bullying or harassment in school or work (30%) and war (29%).

As for the delicate question of religious faith: In the U.S., only 52% of Millennials agree that faith plays an important role in their lives. The totals are much higher in sub-Saharan Africa (93%) and the Middle East and North Africa (89%). Still,52% isn’t bad compared to 25% in Europe, if you’re worried about this issue.   

That’s the picture. It’s contradictory, but so are profiles of the older generations. Rest assured that this is a vast and potentially loyal cohort for any brand willing to invest in it. 

Regarding the surveys: Sprout Social polled 1,000 Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. MarketingSherpa surveyed 2,400 consumers.The International Youth Foundation and the Center for Strategic International Studies surveyed 7,600 youths in 30 countries.   


1 comment about "The Millennial Mystique".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 20, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.

    Why should marketers with any sense bother to advertise to anyone older than 34? After all, boomers with their silly cargo shorts have one foot in the grave and the older folks---those over 70--- all died a few years ago. So you have no choice but to care mainly---or only---about millennials and you must buy digital media as this is the only way to reach the dynamic, super savvy, affluent, 18-34s. After all, TV is dead and so are print media and radio. Right? Except for one tiny fact. Millennials constitute barely 30 % of the adult population and they account for just about that percentage or, often, less, of the average marketer's sales. That's why so many marketers pay a lot of attention to middle aged and older consumers. Simple.

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