Think you know millennials? Think again.

Yes, this is another blog about Millennials (arguably the most talked about generation yet), but it is intended to set the record straight. As a millennial, I am tired of reading lists of growing stereotypes and generalisations, so this article will eradicate all misaligned assumptions you may have. Pay attention.

Millennials were born at a time of individual pragmatism and self-reliance. They’ve grown up over-protected (often unsuccessfully) and come of age as energetic, team oriented and overly confident individuals. Their minds have been stretched by academia as well as constant exposure to information about the world they live in through the Internet.

So now we know who Millennials really are, it’s time shed light on what they are not.

MILLENNIALS ARE NOT NOMADS.

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Nomad: a member of a people that travels from place to place to find fresh pasture for its animals and has no permanent home, (Oxford dictionary)

There is a strong assumption that Millennials are selfishly rebelling against societal pressure in a bid to escape responsibility and take from life, rather than give and graft as previous generations have. Through much research with Millennials across the globe we have found this to be untrue.

Millennials collectively adopt a ‘work hard, play hard mentality’. They understand and accept their responsibilities but have no qualms about treating themselves when it hits 5pm. The reason they are perceived to have an overt interest in ‘living’ is because they are relatively more likely to act on this passion compared to their parent’s generation – they have been enabled and inspired by the internet to do so.

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Be the brand that enables them to get more out of life like NIKE

MILLENNIALS ARE SELF- ABSORBED, NARCISSISTS – THE ‘SELFIE GENERATION’. WE DON’T THINK SO.

“Millennials need to feel like what they are doing is important and that they are on the right track. Yes, it sounds a little needy…and it is. But, many Millennials grew up with constant praise from their Baby Boomer parents. It’s what they know.”  Times Magazine, 2013

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Millennials are perceived to be needy and extremely self-obsessed, only concerned with the streams of people judging their status updates and selfies. In fact it seems that the common selfie will be the definition of Gen-Y as a representative act of continued narcissism.

But what are the reasons for this woman posing in front of her camera? This is where things get a little more complicated and we believe that there are two key reasons.

  1. The rise of social media and the internet has driven a need to stand out and have a voice amongst the now global social scene. There are more people to measure ourselves against and because of this there is a greater need to “belong” whilst carving out a personal identity amongst this tribe. This means that when it comes to posting selfies, there is a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them attitude’, as opposed to a ‘me, me, me attitdude’.
  1. Millennials have become role models for each other, hunting out experiences and sharing them with the knowledge of their potential influence. Likes and comments on posts are not just a measure of how accepted and loved they are, they are also a show of hands supporting a shared lifestyle and set of values.

Be the brand that encourages self-love, appreciates  “imperfections” and rewards people for seeking out new experiences like SELFRIDGES 

MILLENNIALS DON’T VALUE TECH OVER PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS.

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With the rise of smartphones and 4G it’s a very common misconception that Millennials are streaming through newsfeeds because they would prefer to be consuming content and talking to their friends digitally, rather than engaging face-to-face. Trains full of commuters gormlessly staring into their iPhones is a sight many of us are often faced with daily, but why?

If anything, tech is making conversations richer. Millennials are consuming so much content via technology because it is enabling them to have more informed opinions and fuels conversations (both on and offline). Talking to friends digitally is allowing Millennials to have more effective and efficient conversations and continuously build their personal network. Never has a generation been so socially aware, meaning that they understand the power of personal contacts and importance of developing these relationships.

Be the brand that creates content worth talking about when they do have precious face-to-face time with friends like PROCTER & GAMBLE

AUTHENTICITY SEEKERS? WRONG.

The root cause of this stereotype is a misunderstanding of what is meant by ‘authenticity’. Craft was one manifestation but it is not essential for each brand to deviate and develop a story of heritage, global partners and provenance. There is actually a huge mistrust for branded advertisements amongst Millennials. A recent study by the McCarthy Group identified that 84% of millennials don’t trust adverts at all. What Millennials are craving is ‘realness’.

Millennials fall for brands who know who they are and what they stand for – something that they can truly relate to. This is part of a rising trend called anti-authenticity that has seen many brands dropping traditional heritage narratives and opting for more a contemporary, fun approach to advertising that rebels against overused conventional approaches.

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 Burberry is currently doing this well by delivering fun, unconventional, creative campaigns through Snapchat to grab consumer’s attention 

To conclude, Millennials are not self-absorbed, nomadic, phone loving zombies that believe everything brands tell them. They are human beings that aren’t afraid to work hard and then play hard. They hero others as well as themselves. They are content hungry in order to fuel richer discussions and appreciate brands that they can truly relate to the most.

If you really want to appeal to this cohort, you need to appreciate the why behind their values. It’s time to stop judging Millennials and start enabling them.

Hannah Loake, Associate Consultant