Four Traits That Best Characterize Millennial Consumers
Our newly updated Millennial Cultural Traits provides powerful new insights into America’s largest generation and one of its most diverse.
One in five Americans are Millennials, the generation born from 1980 through 1996.
As of 2021, this segment is now ages 24-41, with the entire generation of working age, and many now entering parenthood. To capture the growing influence and expenditures of this consumer segment, brands and marketers must deepen their understanding of Millennials.
Which Group Traits best characterize Millennials?
The four Group Traits which best characterize the Millennial segment are Ambition, Go-with-the-Flow, Cosmopolitan, and Tuned-in.
People sharing the Group Trait of Ambition are driven to succeed, and to focus on the necessary steps towards achieving their goals.
These individuals are most attuned to the future impacts of their daily choices, especially when they know what might make or break their grand aspirations.
Millennials are a generation that’s been dealt a heavy hand. They’ve now lived through not one, but two economic recessions. Many came of age in a poor job market in the late 2000s, stunting their career. And on top of it all, they face rising costs such as tuition, healthcare, and housing. These circumstances have necessitated a “sink or swim” attitude, and Millennials responded by acting towards securing a better future for themselves. They’re the most educated generation to date, they’re borderline “workaholic,” and they take their side hustles seriously – all in pursuit of security.
Although Hispanic Americans firmly believe in keeping and cultivating their cultural heritage, they have had to adapt culturally as immigrants and minorities. As a result, duality is their reality—they seamlessly navigate both worlds with a cultural fluidity that is easy and authentic.
Millennials are always on the grind, so it’s important to offer them ways to be more efficient – to get even more accomplished with less time or effort.
Position your brand as a resource to help them overcome obstacles and achieve success. Celebrate Millennials’ intense dedication, something they probably don’t hear enough amidst the “lazy” and “entitled” stereotypes. And finally, remind them it’s okay to take a break, practice self-care, and treat themselves.
People sharing the Group Trait of Go-with-the-Flow feel a resilience and contentment towards life.
These individuals are more likely to express a “ce’est la vie” attitude towards their personal situations, accepting that their fates are largely out of their own hands.
Millennials are keenly aware of the twists and turns of life. While many grew up during the booming 80s and 90s, they’ve now experienced several decades of rapid and dramatic change including the 9/11 attacks, the Great Recession of 2008, and the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing recession of 2020. Facing uncertainty is a defining factor of their lifetimes. These young Americans have learned to go with the flow of life and expect the unexpected. They’re resilient and take what life throws at them, while remaining staunchly optimistic.
At the core of it all, Millennials want empathy, so show sensitivity to their unique struggles.
Take a realistic tone when appealing to them. Encourage hope without discounting the realities of the world. And don’t be afraid to use humor to diffuse the tension – to them, this shows that you understand what they’re going through.
People sharing the Group Trait of Cosmopolitan value spending time with people of diverse backgrounds and walks of life.
These individuals are more likely to seek out opportunities to engage with people from different cultural backgrounds than their own.
Millennials are an inherently diverse generation that craves novelty and wide-reaching experiences. Many Millennials seek to understand their own diverse heritage as a way to find meaning in a world that has proven unpredictable. And they welcome cultural and personal diversity in their social circles, hobbies, and activities as a way to experience the world in its full complexity.
There’s never been a better time to lean into diversity, and when you do, Millennials will be here for it!
Millennials are often known as the “experiences” generation, and much of what’s driving their thirst for adventure is a desire to experience other cultures. Whether through food, music, history, or more, give Millennials a reason to step outside the box of their everyday lives. Position your products as a way to learn about and experience other cultures.
People sharing the Group Trait of Tuned-In want to keep up with the current cultural moment, especially when it comes to entertainment.
These individuals are more likely to seek out and participate in the latest of trends and popular culture, and to have little shame in going along with “mainstream” tastes.
Millennials—like previous generations their age—desire to be in-the-know when it comes to trends and pop culture. But unlike previous generations, Millennials grew up through the transition of unparalleled technological innovations, inciting a sense of “FOMO” (fear of missing out) and a need to keep up with their changing world. Along the way, technology offered them greater access to culture, trends, and news, spawning deep interests across a variety of topics.
Brands have ample opportunity to play in this space.
This can be as simple as building hype around brand or product news, even if it’s small, to give Millennials something to be excited about. Stay up to date on the pop culture trends Millennials are into so you can connect with them on topics they’re passionate about. And finally, repackage your content in multiple formats, like shows, podcasts, memes, and social media posts to reach Millennials through the multitude of channels they use to stay in-the-know.
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