Commentary

What It Means To Be A Millennial Guy

While there has been a wealth of marketing research insights about Millennial women, there has been little focus on the guys. But the evolution of the Millennial guy is as interesting as it is surprising. In combination with the changing nature of the Millennial guy, we are witnessing a cultural shift, with gender norms becoming increasingly blurred for both sexes, and the meaning of being a man today evolving in an unexpected direction among the Millennial cohort. 

Many researchers, anthropologists and strategists specialize in tracking generational insights and theories. One area we have been monitoring is how gender within Gen Z and Millennial generations are both similar and different from each other, and comparing that to generations that came before. A key finding is how strikingly similar Millennial Guys are to Millennial Females.

Our Youth IQ study asked young people (13 to 35) to rate a series of attitudinal statements about how they see themselves and the world around them. In the past two survey waves, Millennial (20 to 35) men have shown themselves to be intensely more in tune with their emotions than previous and emerging generations. Nearly seven in ten (68%) Millennial men agree that, “there is nothing wrong with men/guys acting sensitive.”

Guys Getting ‘Sensitive’

The archetype that guys must be strong and conceal their emotions to be a “real man” is long gone among this cohort. And they express themselves in other fun and untraditional ways. Three of five Millennial guys agree, “I am really into food/cooking,” and nearly eight of 10 agree, “I believe in true love.” Additionally, a little over half of Millennial guys agree, “my parents are some of my best friends,” which takes family first to a whole new level.  

In addition to being at ease with expressing their emotions, and being friends with their parents, it is not surprising that Millennial guys share similar passions and beliefs, and are overall very supportive of the women within their generation. Sixty-three percent of Millennial guys and women agree, “I am passionate about travel.”  A little over half of Millennial guys and females agree, “I am spiritual,” and about six in ten Millennial guys and females agree that, “It is important that I give my time or money to causes that matter to me.”

While this is just a glimpse into the mindset and behaviors of the evolving Millennial guy, we are seeing one area where Millennial guys and women paths are diverging. In response to the question: how do you feel about the following statements related to recent sexual harassment cases? A quarter of Millennial guys agree, “this news makes me think the world hates men,” compared to14% of females. Twenty-seven percent of guys agree, “this news makes me think it is really hard to be a man” vs. 19% of females. Nearly eight of ten females vs. seven in ten guys agree, “I am happy that the victims are finally able to come out of the darkness and “I am happy that these men will no longer be able to use their power to hurt people.”

With the recent negative spotlight on guys, it will be important to continue to track generational trends to see where females and guys continue to become more similar as well as areas that start to divide among this cohort and among the emerging Gen Z.

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