New research from Boston Consulting Group separates the GenY population of 79 million people in the U.S. into six distinct and new groups. A key focus of the research was to determine how behaviors and attitudes differ between Millennials and non-Millennials and to identify differences that are truly generational and therefore characteristic of Millennials (not simply related to their age or relatively early life stage). The research was done via a survey with 4,000 Millennials (aged 16 to 34) and 1,000 non-Millennials (aged 35 to 74). “To a surprising degree,” they conclude at BCG, U.S. Millennials are a generation actively engaged in consuming and influencing. Here are some of the key take-aways, and a reflection on the research findings by Joeri Van den Bergh.
Some of the key findings as found in the recent press release:
- Millennials and non-Millennials spend roughly the same amount of time online, but millennials are more likely to use the Internet as a platform to broadcast their thoughts and experiences and to contribute user-generated content.
- Millennials are far more engaged in activities such as rating products and services (60 percent versus 46 percent of non-Millennials) and uploading videos, images, and blog entries to the Web (60 percent versus 29 percent).
- Millennials put a premium on speed, ease, efficiency, and convenience in all their transactions. For example, they shop for groceries at convenience stores twice as often as non-Millennials.
- They are receptive to cause marketing and are more likely to choose products whose purchase supports a cause (37 percent versus 30 percent).
- Of Millennials who make direct donations (34 percent), almost half donate through their mobile devices (15 percent), compared with only 5 percent of non-Millennials.
- When it comes to making purchases, Millennials are far more likely to favor brands that have Facebook pages and mobile websites (33 percent versus 17 percent). They overwhelmingly agree (47 percent versus 28 percent) that their lives feel richer when they’re connected to people through social media.
- Millennials are far more likely than non-Millennials to be the very first or among the first to try a new technology, and they tend to own multiple devices such as smartphones, tablets, and gaming systems.
- More U.S. Millennials than non-Millennials reported using MP3 players (72 percent versus 44 percent), gaming platforms (67 percent versus 41 percent), and smartphones (59 percent versus 33 percent), while more non-Millennials reported using desktop computers at home (80 percent versus 63 percent) and basic cellphones (66 percent versus 46 percent).
- As a result, U.S. Millennials are also much more likely to multitask while online, constantly moving across platforms — mobile, social, PC, and gaming.
- More Millennials than non-Millennials reported using a mobile device to read user reviews and to research products while shopping (50 percent versus 21 percent).
- “Crowd sourcing” — tapping into the collective intelligence of the public or one’s peer group — has become particularly popular among Millennials.
- Millennials are much more likely than non-Millennials to explore brands on social networks (53 percent versus 37 percent).
The research also found that allthough Millennials’ perceptions of themselves are generally favorable, non-Millennials tend to view them more negatively. These perceptions may be coloring how executives view the Millennial consumer, preventing companies from understanding and fully addressing the product and service needs of this generation, and establishing strong brand relationships.
Six Distinct Consumer Millenial segments
The research identified six distinct segments of U.S. Millennials that could help companies improve the ways they develop their marketing, brands, and business models to reach this increasingly important audience.
- Hip-ennials (29 percent) -“I can make the world a better place.”
- Millennial Moms (22 percent) – “I love to work out, travel, and pamper my baby.
- Anti-Millennials (16 percent) – “I’m too busy taking care of my business and my family to worry about much else.”
- Gadget Gurus (13 percent) – “It’s a great day to be me.”
- Clean and Green Millennials (10 percent) – “I take care of myself and the world around me.”
- Old School Millennials (10 percent) – “Connecting on Facebook is too impersonal, let’s meet up for coffee instead!”
So what does all this mean to companies and their brands? According to BCG, it’s this:
“For some, a fundamental reinvention may be in order. For instance, brands that target teenagers, college students, or young adults may have to be rethought for each successive generation. In other cases, companies may need to figure out how to introduce their brands to Millennials at the appropriate life stage. And for others still, reaching Millennials may simply require more relevant and resonant marketing messages. Some brands — such as Nike and Sony — are favorites among U.S. Millennials and non-Millennials alike, and must try to remain so. Others, such as Target and Apple, appear to have an edge with Millennials.”
Joeri Van den Bergh, reflecting on the research findings:
“These recent results of the BCG Millennials study confirm many of the points I have described in our book How Cool Brands Stay Hot. Millennials are more individually empowered to voice their opinion as a combined result of a school system putting more emphasis on extravert behavior as well as parents supporting their children in defending their own thoughts since the days they were able to voice them. Parents of Millennials involved their children more into the family (purchase) decisions and this has affected the way they are dealing with brands and marketing today. It is a generation of stimulation junkies, eager for instant gratification with a documented lower span of attention. Millennials have seen it all. They have been bombarded with commercial messages since childhood and are hard to ‘wow’, which also means more demand on the quality and services aspects of brands. Millennials are fond of their tools. It’s a technology generation: they have many more chats with friends (offline and through social media) about devices such as tablets, smart phones and gaming tools. And they are of course often the first to adapt innovations. Many societal evolutions or consumer trends were born in this Millennial generation: think of mobile texting, green behavior, sharing music, files/flats/cars/…, iTunes, social media, watching TV content online et cetera. When looking closely to evolutions among Millennials, you will discover the consumer trends of the next 10 years. Not just because they ARE the most influential consumer target group for the next 3 decades bit also because they INFLUENCE their parents, the large cohort of Baby Boomers. Together with their Millennials, the latter are good for more than 50% of the total demographics. Time to make your brand Gen Y proof! Friends and the immediate social circle (including mom and dad) are the most important role models to them which explains why social media became popular thanks to the Millennial generation. It’s the perfect tool to stay 24/24 7/7 in touch with many more friends. They have a stronger belief in peers’ opinions than in institutions or corporates. Millennials are a very positive and optimist generation, especially when compared to the previous X generation. Brands should emphasize their role in creating happiness.”
More about this last reflection by Joeri about happiness, brands and millennials and generation Y can be found in a recent research project he’s done, check out the presentation on SlideShare here: “Don’t worry be happy“.
Christine Barton, a partner at the Boston Consulting Group in Dallas and an author this recent report about the study:
“Don’t believe the hype that Millennials consume less than previous generations. On average, U.S. Millennials already shell out and influence the spending of hundreds of billions of dollars annually — an amount that will only increase as they mature into their peak earning and spending years. Those companies that truly ‘get’ this generation will have an opportunity to differentiate themselves and forge profitable long-term relationships with Millennial consumers.”