Marketers have been trying to pin down the idiosyncrasies of the millennial generation for years, but the surprising and at times contradictory behaviors of Millennials make them a tough target.
Millennials reflect $200 billion in annual buying power, but they are among they might be the most difficult generation for marketers to understand. Ambitious and self-reliant, they are also more likely to live at home with their parents.
Known to spend their incomes on experiences over “things,” they are socking just as much money away for retirement as Boomers are. They are seen as tech-savvy trendsetters by brands, but at the same time they are natural-born nostalgics who like to “unplug” from time to time.
Here are a few stats about Millennials that may surprise you:
1. Millennials are earning 20 percent less than their parents did
According to a study from the Young Invincibles. Young adult workers (ages 24 to 36) today earn a median income of $40,581. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $10,000 less than their parents were making at the same age.
2. The average student loan debt doubled between the millennial generation and Generation X
According to The College Investor, the average debt for a U.S. millennial has ballooned to nearly $40,000. Somewhat unsurprisingly, one study found that 79 percent of U.S. millennials favor free tuition programs—but here’s the rub: many of them do not want them funded by federal tax dollars.
3. Despite their increased debt, millennials are well-educated on the benefits of retirement savings and they are saving at the same rate as their parents
Per a T. Rowe Price survey, Boomers save at a rate of 9 percent of their annual salary, while millennials and Gen X-ers save at an average rate of 8 percent of their annual salary.
4. A third of U.S. adults 18 to 34 live at home with their parents, according to Pew Research
Pew researchers say a challenging job market is to blame, in addition to the high cost of housing. More than 11 million Americans spend more than half of their income on rent.
5. Despite the steady uptick of freelancers in the U.S.—the latest estimate is at around 55 million—millennials aren’t entirely sold on this lifestyle
PwC found that while millennials see freelancing as a promising option on the horizon, in the near-term they prefer the stability of having a traditional employer.
6. Millennials have overtaken Gen X-ers as America’s largest demographic in the workforce
Nearly 30 percent of millennials are in management positions.
7. Counter to the stereotype that millennials are self-centered, they arguably represent the most charitable generation
A recent survey found that 84 percent of millennials make annual charitable donations and 70 percent volunteer their time and talents to the causes they care most about. Blackbaud’s Next Generation of American Giving report found that the average millennial donates nearly $500 to charity each year.
8. Though millennials grew up with the internet, it seems as though they are better at unplugging than the generation that preceded them
Nearly Millennials are 49 percent more willing to digitally “detox” while on vacation than their Gen X counterparts.
9. Millennials care about the environment
A large-scale study of more than 20,000 millennials in 181 countries found that Millennials are more concerned about the ramifications of climate change than they are about any other issue.
10. Some experts say millennials could be the most nostalgic generation ever, though that claim is difficult to measure
One theory for this is that people of this generation have straddled the pre-to-early internet days as well as the present within a relatively short timeframe. LA Weekly describes this experience as it pertains to music in particular: “The timeline between the music’s relevance and the moment we start to miss it is shorter than ever.” As creative agency Doner points out, feelings of nostalgia are exacerbated during periods of perceived or real instability.
11. As it turns out, America’s past time isn’t too popular among millennials
Just 18 percent of Millennials would describe themselves as baseball fans. What’s even more interesting is the rise of soccer, wildly heralded as the world’s sport, which is now the second-most popular sport among 12-24 year-olds in the U.S., according to one ESPN poll.
12. Gen X music fans are more likely to attend live shows than millennials
Think concerts are just for young people? Think again. According to a Ticketmaster study. Interestingly, despite their standing as the “Netflix-and-Chill” generation,” Millennials over-index in movie-going of all things.
13. There are 22 million millennial parents in the U.S. and they approach parenting differently than previous generations
A SurveyMonkey poll of 2,000 millennial parents found that 50 percent of parents have intentionally bought gender-neutral toys for their children and 60 percent feel that it’s very important to give their children unique names (just 35 percent of Boomers said the same).
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